29 Epic Inbound Content Marketing Ideas
Getting your head around inbound marketing can be really tricky. If you use HubSpot especially, you'll know that content creation is the cornerstone of inbound, but sometimes those epic content ideas just don't come fast enough! Help is at hand though. In this post you'll find a list of conversion-led content ideas that'll generate you some smokin' hot leads.
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You've probably heard the term “content is king” but - frankly speaking - content for content’s sake is never a good idea. If you want my advice, when you’re struggling to think of inbound content ideas you should just STOP. Take a step back and remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing and really think about what it is you want to achieve.
The first thing you should do is re-acquaint yourself with the inbound flywheel. The inbound flywheel is a way of marketing coined by the folks over at HubSpot. It's focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content and adding value at every stage in your customer's journey. Noisy Little Monkey has been implementing HubSpot's inbound marketing flywheel for its clients for three years now - and it really works effectively for B2B companies.
Inbound is about being in the right place at the right time, sharing useful content and increasing your visibility. Inbound content doesn’t just mean do some blogs, Different types of content are needed to nurture and guide your prospects, to convert them from visitors, into leads, and finally into paying customers. Figuring out what content fits your prospect all comes down to which stage of the buyers journey they’re in - Awareness, Consideration or Decision.
If you’re not sure who your customers really are and what their buyer journey actually looks like… maybe it’s time to create some personas.
Awareness Stage Content
Awareness content is all about educating your audience. More often than not your content or blog titles will be asking the same questions that your prospects are frantically searching for the answer to.
In this stage, the educational and fact-filled blogs and content offers you need to consider are:
- Editorial blogs
- Research /Analyst reports
Consideration Stage Content
Consideration content still needs to educate, but should really focus more on practical advice and the different avenues your prospect could go down to help solve their irksome issue or problem. The key here is to be as helpful as possible, and demonstrate your knowledge in an authoritative manner to build some much needed trust in your brand, business or organisation.
The Consideration stage should focus on the following types of content:
- Expert guides
- Comparison Whitepapers
- 'How To' blogs
Decision Stage Content
Decision stage content (the clue is in the name) should provide the right type of information to help your prospect decide to use your service/product and push them to purchase. Typically this info consists of cost breakdowns, service benefits or supplier comparisons.
In the decision stage the types of content you need to create are:
- Case studies
- Free Product trials
- Vendor comparisons
- Live demos
Now this is the tough bit. You can know the inbound flywheel inside and out, but sometimes you need a little kick-start to get those creative juices flowing.
So, here are 29 epic inbound content marketing ideas to get your creative juices flowing...
1. Educational Blogs
If you know a lot about a subject and think you could shine a light for all the lay-folk out there then do it! Demonstrate the depth of your knowledge and expertise and at the same time ensure your audience is kept up to date with best practice and the latest industry trends.
2. Testimonial Videos
An awesome way to boost the credibility of your business - a humble brag from a trusted client will speak volumes about your business and potentially push a prospect to get in touch. It’s also a great excuse to get back in touch with ex-customers and build some loyalty with your existing client base.
3. Event Write-Ups
Show buyers that your brand or business is up to date with all the latest industry news, trends and opinions by publishing and sharing write-ups of the cool industry events you go along to. Even better, host your own cool events in your area and write about them for some local SEO goodness and meet some prospects face to face in the process. Win Win!
4. Meet The Team Vids
If you’re a service based business and you don’t have a team page or individual staff bios, make some! People buy from people after all. If you do have team pages, make them that much more personal by recording some brief videos. They don’t have to be flashy, just a talking head that helps showcase your employees personality and your company’s culture.
5. Product Screencasts
If you’ve got a complex product, app or piece of software, a screencast will help you showcase the ins-and-outs of your product in exquisite detail. Software like QuickTime will record your screen and show how your product looks, works and feels. If you don’t have a Mac, try a paid tool like Camtasia or a less flashy free tool like Open Broadcaster Software.
6. Free Trials and Consultations
The best way to help a prospect decide if they want to use your product or service is to actually let them get their hands on it. If what you offer as a service doesn’t quite fit the free trial model, i.e. you don’t make online tools or software, why not offer a prospect a free hour long consultation instead. You can do this face to face or even via Skype, the phone or facetime.
7. Step by Step Guides and How To’s
Tutoring your audience on how to fix an issue is a sure fire way to make your brand or business the de facto source of tips and advice. It doesn’t have to be a video tutorial either, sometimes a simple blog with screenshots or images is all you need.
8. Team Interviews, Vlogs or Podcasts
Getting your team members to write content can be a hard task, especially if they’re unbelievably busy doing deliverable work or they don’t really fancy themselves as writers. A great work around is to interview them yourself and either write it up or record their opinions, tips or advice as a video or just a voice recording. Why not make it a weekly or monthly blog feature?
9. Case studies
Case studies might sound a bit duff and archaic but they’re still immensely valuable weapons in your inbound arsenal. A sincere and humble brag about how you’ve transformed a client’s business thanks to your expert efforts is a tried and tested method of pushing a prospect from Consideration to Decision.
Let’s face the facts, pie charts and line graphs are boring as sin. Conveying data and complex information in a manner that’s not dull or dreary can only really be achieved by an ace looking infographic. Not only do infographics help convey tips or data in pleasing manner, they’re über shareable and much more likely to get in front of some potential prospects.
11. Expert Interviews
Use expert interviews as an opportunity to fill gaps in your own knowledge and at the same time still answer questions that your prospects desperately want answers to. It's aslo a great way to make new contacts and partner with other experts in your industry.
12. Opinion pieces
You don’t win hearts and minds by sitting on the fence. Showing your audience that you care about a subject or are able to offer an insightful expert opinion on current industry events, trends or news will help build trust and demonstrate knowledge.
13. Data Insights
As industries of all shapes and sizes become more and more data driven, insights into data, measures and metrics is increasingly sought after. You don’t need to spend ages gathering data from a survey, but you might want to showcase your own original analytics data or curate and reference external research to build trust and authority with your audience in a simple and scalable way.
Cheap to do but fairly time intensive compared to just pulling data from your own analytics - polling leads, clients or audience members for data is an easy win. You’ll generate interest during the initial research phase but see even more engagement when you publish your survey findings, be it in a formal report or something more sharable like an infographic.
15. Competitor / Service Comparisons
Directly comparing service offerings, prices and specifications might seem underhanded but your prospects are actively seeking that information. Make sure you’re the one that answers their comparison queries and push them from consideration to decision.
16. ROI Calculators
If your service or offering is a “considered purchase” (potentially a large portion of a prospect's budget) alleviate your prospect's concerns by putting together an online ROI calculator. This way they can easily visualise the financial benefits behind their potential investment. If you don’t have the capacity to develop an online tool, try boning up on your excel skills and offer a downloadable formula-laden spreadsheet instead.
Who doesn’t love a listicle? You clearly do as you’re reading one right now! Giving your audience an über clickable list of helpful tips, insightful advice or comic musings is a top tactic for attracting eyeballs. PRO TIP: Odd numbered lists perform better than even numbered ones.
When it comes to inbound offers it’s all about “give and get”. If you’ve put a lot of time into creating a guide or resource it makes sense to gate that content behind a form so you can capture some info and at least see who is trying to make use of your offer. If you want to make your own offer but are struggling for inspiration, here are my ideas for some top information-capturing inbound content:
Turn a slide deck, or word press doc into a pdf and hey presto, you’ve got yourself an eBook. A longish guide that helps solve a specific problem is an ideal way to educate your audience in a more in-depth fashion than you ever could with just a blog post.
Lightweight and easy to produce, a checklist that your audience can bookmark or print off and include in their day to day for streamlining processes, highlighting essential tasks or help keep track of to do's is an ace idea. It’s a great starter offer if you’ve never put together a large resource before and it’s not too time intensive if you’re just testing the waters of inbound.
A lot larger than and not as pretty as an eBook, whitepapers need to be research focused and chock full o’ evidence and statistics that you’ve backed up with numerous trustworthy references. While whitepapers might sound duller than dishwater, but it’s a guaranteed tactic to build credibility in your organisation.
If you’re out and about delivering talks or training, why not repurpose them and hold an interactive webinar for people who can’t attend IRL? Get your prospects to register before you hold the class, seminar or presentation and for double bubble, record it for folks to download at a later date.
22. Slide decks
If you don’t have access to webinar software or you’re just not that comfortable with public speaking, a slide deck is just as effective a way of getting information across to your audience members. Use something like SlideShare to host your preso but make sure you embed the slide deck on a landing page on your own website.
Contests and competitions offer up the fiendishly simple way to hit 2 birds with one stone:
- Generate leads – make sure one of the requirements of the contest is that you need the contestants contact info
- Generate engagement – include a social sharing mechanic in your contest and make it necessary for them to follow your social channels to be in with a chance of winning.
24. Stock Photo Galleries
Decent stock photography is really hard to come by, especially if you’re in a niche industry. Help out peeps looking for quality images by creating your own stock photo library with actual real human beings (as opposed to soulless, pearly-white-teeth-toting stock photo models) for folks to download. All you need is a decent camera (an iPhone will do) and some willing participants.
People are always looking for ready-made, out of the box templates to alter and make their own. You can keep it simple if needs be and put together an Excel spreadsheet already filled with useful formulas or just a simple word doc or spreadsheet calendar.
26. Strategy Guides
Your prospects and subscribers are constantly trying to learn new things and improve existing tactics and actions. The most important thing they’ll want to work on are internal strategies and processes. Put together your own expert guide to help them refine or develop their own plans.
Toolkits are a bunch of different resources melded together into one complete offering. It might be a collection of useful how to blogs that you’ve written yourself or curated, or it might actually be a group of content offers that you’ve amalgamated into one download. It’s a great way for you to repurpose content and at the same time spark your audience’s interest.
28. Industry Reports
An Industry Report does exactly what it says on the tin, reports on the state of your industry. Use it as an opportunity to survey like for like organisations and business in your sector for useful information and at the same time improve your presence as an industry thought leader.
29. Tools or Resources
A web based tool or resource can help you capture some really useful information from prospects that are actively seeking assistance online. While potentially a large investment of time and resource there’s no better way to put your business head and shoulders above your competition by creating a free to use tool.
Hopefully by scrolling through this list you've found at least one or two ideas you can implement as part of your inbound content marketing strategy. If you’re struggling to manage your social, let alone come up with inbound ideas, maybe you could use our lean in 15 social media guide?