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How to Develop an Inbound Content Marketing Plan That Works

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inbound content marketing

Inbound content marketing is often separated into inbound marketing and content marketing. When you look at a successful content marketing strategy, however, you see the two are combined into a single, consistent strategy that moves the needle.

Inbound marketing is defined as “a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have.”

An inbound marketing plan is all about figuring out how you can provide the greatest value with each piece of content you create, from social media posts to blog content. This is inherently the goal with content marketing—but that doesn’t mean it’s always done successfully or with intention. 

Stop checking the boxes and creating content just to do it. Develop an inbound content marketing plan that moves the needle and drives ROI with these strategies.

Keep Reading: The 5-Step Brand Analysis to Refresh Your Content Marketing

Identify Your Inbound Channels 

Inbound marketing is all about providing the right content, at the right time, in the right place. Your first step is to determine your inbound channels; spaces where your audience can discover and enjoy your content. 

Use the list of following inbound content marketing channels to uncover the best mix for your brand. 

SEO-Optimized Website 

Use SEO techniques to ensure that all your on-site content is geared towards the latest ranking factors. Everything from blog posts and landing pages to lead forms should follow SEO best practices to increase your chance of ranking for the right keywords that match your target audience’s search inquiries. Use our SEO checklist to understand the most critical factors for optimizing your content. 

Break this channel down into the various sub-channels, since each might have a different goal or outcome. Some sub-channels might include:

  • Ebooks
  • Blog posts
  • Case studies
  • White papers
  • Landing pages
  • Free downloads
  • Calculators/free tools

Podcasts 

More than one-third of American adults (104 million) regularly consume podcasts, according to recent reports. Use this space to create an industry-relevant podcast adjacent to your brand messaging. As consumers evolve, so must our content, and this form of content is in high demand, making it an important inbound content marketing channel. 

Video  

There’s no denying the popularity and effectiveness of video. According to Wyzowl, 93 percent of marketers say video is an important part of their strategy and 94 percent agree video increased user understanding of their product or service. On the consumer side, 96 percent of users watched an explainer video for a product or service and 84 percent were convinced to purchase from that video. 

Social Media

Social media is an external space, but you still completely control the content, promotion, and messaging. This is a channel where your audience chooses to follow and accept updates from your business—but that doesn’t mean they’ll always stick around. Create authentic, value-driven content that your audience wants to see. 

Use the metrics on your social media pages to understand which types of content get the most shares, likes, and comments. Don’t forget to align your content marketing and social media marketing strategies too.

Understand Each Channel’s Audience

You need to know both where your audience lives and also understand how they consume content there and what kind of content they like.

Identify the Right Channels

For example, if you’re a B2B SaaS company, your target audience likely spends more time on LinkedIn than they do TikTok, so your strategy should reflect that. Here are some ways to choose your best channels:

  • Is our audience active here?
  • Will it allow us to move the needle?
  • Can we create content that’s authentic and relevant to our brand?

Identify the Right Content

Secondly, your content needs to match the specific audience’s intent and behavior. Some audiences want different content in their email newsletters than social media. In the LinkedIn example, it may be that your how-to videos don’t get as much engagement as case studies.

A basic understanding of a content marketing sales funnel will help you fine-tune the type of content you create and promote on each channel. Take a look at Single Grain’s example below. TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU stand for top, middle, and bottom of the funnel. These stages are also referred to as discovery, consideration, and purchase. 

Your inbound content marketing efforts will almost entirely be focused on TOFU and MOFU content. BOFU content and strategies are generally considered outbound. 

Marketing Funnel - 3 stages
Image source: Single Grain

Take the course: Increase Your Marketing ROI with Content Repurposing 

Audit Your Current Plan and Refine or Create a New One

Do you have an inbound content marketing plan in place? According to CMI, 79 percent of marketers have a content marketing strategy. Many of those marketers also plan to ramp up their inbound strategies via content marketing in 2021. Note how several of the top areas that marketers plan to invest in are related to content marketing.

Image source: CMI

Now is the time to take your inbound content marketing efforts seriously. Your audience can get valuable content from anyone, your job is to make sure they get that content they need or want from you. More importantly, they want to get that content where they spend their time. Think: via relevant Google searches when typing in a query, through their inbox on Monday mornings, on their social media feeds when they’re scrolling.

Before starting, audit your current plan by asking yourself: how do we brainstorm, develop, and promote content that provides value to our audience? Look for these five signs that your content development process needs an update

Next, refine or create your process, which should include audience research, a well-staffed team, and proper resources. The focus of your inbound content marketing plan is to solve problems of or provide value to your targeted and engaged audience. This should be the central tenet of the plan you develop.

Use Inbound Content Marketing to Move the Needle

Your inbound strategy and content marketing strategy should no longer be separate entities. When you combine these two essential pieces, you’ll see more cohesion within your content and better ROI. Develop an inbound content marketing plan to provide value and turn your audience members into clients and customers. 

Jessica Thiefels is the author of, 10 Questions That Answer Life’s Biggest Questions, podcast host of Mindset Reset Radio and founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, an organic content marketing agency. She's been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications including Forbes and Entrepreneur. She also contributes to Glassdoor, Fast Company, Outbrain, Score.org and more. Follow her on Twitter, connect on LinkedIn and join her community of intention-getters on Instagram.

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How to Develop an Inbound Content Marketing Plan That Works

By: Jessica Thiefels Time to Read: 4 min