Inbound marketing consists of a mid to long-term methodology to attract, educate and convert marketing and sales opportunities through a series of steps in the digital world. Those three words – Attract, Educate and Convert – highlight the importance and dependence of such strategy from content marketing. There’s no attraction without content, there’s no education without content and there’s no conversion without content. Content operates in all spheres of inbound marketing and, more importantly, is what makes it stand out from other methodologies. It is what makes it sustainable.

Breaking the Attraction, Education, and Conversion down

Attraction: Consists of creating offerings that go beyond your product or service. Visitors who are going to a portfolio or product’s page are mostly at the bottom of the funnel (or end of the buyer’s journey), which means they are the minority. Visitors who are going to an article, a blog post, a downloadable guide, a podcast, a case study represent 2/3 of your whole funnel. They are the majority, and there are many more topics you can approach to start a conversation or a relationship. At this phase, they are finding out about a problem, which indicates that they are not ready to buy yet (so your product page would just scare them away);

Education: It’s the act of teaching visitors about their needs and how they can overcome the challenges they are facing. By this stage, your visitors have probably recognized that they need to solve an issue. So they are probably trying to learn more about the different ways to do just that. They are in the middle of the funnel and searching for knowledge before making a decision. It’s still a lot easier to start a conversation with this visitor/lead talking about his issues, challenges, possible solutions than just telling them about your product;

Conversion: After finding out about an issue, learning about it, knowing how to solve it, it’s time to make a decision. Firstly about how to solve it (which path) and secondly, who will solve it (which provider). That’s the time where you present your product, its benefits, its features and its pricing. Note that if you haven’t connected with this visitor before and he has just found out about you, there’s a huge chance he already trusts another brand – the one who has taught him all of that – and it will be a lot harder for your brand to stand out.

This doesn’t mean you won’t make any sales if you don’t follow those steps, it just means:

(a) you are narrowing down your options and timeframe to create a relationship with a possible customer;
(b) you are decreasing the size of your sales funnel with fewer options to your sales team because you are only acting on 1/3 of the process;
(c) you are not creating a long-term machine of lead-generation that will grow and prosper regardless of future investments;
(d) you are not positioning your brand as an authority in that field where visitors can go to learn, share, discuss and buy;

What about sustainability, how does this concept fit here?

No, I won’t try to argue that once you are creating content online and not using a piece of paper you are protecting the environment – although that’s also true. Actually, when I affirm that content is a sustainable strategy, it is because differently from other strategies, such as an event, paid media or an outbound campaign, its growth is not punctual nor does it dependent of future investments. Content growth is recurring and independent of future investments – that’s why we consider that content marketing is a PG (geometric progression) not a PA (arithmetic progression), because it grows exponentially.

If you run an ad campaign, you will be paying a certain amount of money per click. If you stop paying, your ad will stop showing up.
If you run an outbound campaign, you will be reaching out to a certain amount of prospects. If you stop reaching out, they will stop showing up.
If you create an event, you will spend a certain budget on it. Once the event is done, no one will show up to watch anything.

In the opposite spectrum, let’s say you’ve invested U$100 to create and distribute an article. During the first week, you’ve got 50 visitors, which indicates a U$2 per visitor. On the second week, you’ve reached 50 new visitors, which takes your investment down to U$1 per visitor. On the third week, you’ve reached 100 extra visitors, which makes your investment drop to U$0.50 per visitor. By the end of the month, the total number of visitors went up to 1000! The result? A cost of U$0.10 per visitor.

Well, that’s just the beginning. If your content is actually adding value to the reader, it will get shared and will attract more visitors. It may also attract external links and your content can get ranked well on search engines and a well-ranked content creates a competitor barrier that regardless of their budget, won’t get surpassed. And I am not even mentioning that you may use that content on nutrition flows for your inbound strategy, on ads, on outbound email campaigns, etc…

Do you actually need a content marketing platform?

With content being the basis of it all, that’s actually where you should begin! What is the value of having landing pages, automation flows, leads management and other features if you are lacking the first step: the content to attract visitors, the content to educate visitors into leads and the content to convert leads into customers

You don’t start building a house without having a land to do so.

In the same way that you could get all functionalities of a marketing automation platform by mixing different tools that do not communicate with each other and soon become a #frankstool (impossible to explain, train new member, find information or scale), you could also find all functionalities of a content marketing tools by using a dozen non-specific platforms for it. But is it worth the effort?

Imagine these two scenarios:

Scenario #1

You use multiple tools to get through your day, other team members use yet a couple of other tools – so you have information spread all over your cloud, in e-mails, on slack, on different social media (…) That means you spend valuable time looking for information on different systems. It also means your navigator is always loaded with dozens of tabs — all of them necessary in order to accomplish every single task. Every time you finish a task or get new data, you have to manually update your beloved spreadsheet. Whenever you need to check out a piece of content, you open your drive and look through your files to find that specific piece. Also, every couple of weeks you have to meticulously check each of your spreadsheets to make sure everything is in place as you hand out your latest results and project your budget for the next weeks. And it goes on…

Scenario #2

You have one platform that centralizes, organizes and automates it all under the same roof – built, designed and constantly updated precisely to empower you.

In Conclusion

As fancy as it may sound, having a content marketing platform to manage your content in addition to your inbound marketing platform is not a luxury, it is a necessity that sooner or later will pop up. It can be later enough that you will have to triple your investments and efforts to adapt an already unproductive team (and a Frankenstein process) to it. Or it can be soon enough so that this software becomes your only necessary resource to work your magic and get your content machine to be your main (and cheaper) acquisition channel.

Would you like to check out Contentools (our Content Marketing Platform) and see if it would fit your needs? I can personally give you live demo, feel free to shoot me an e-mail and we’ll schedule the best moment for it.