When most people talk about inbound marketing, the primary emphasis is either on SEO keywords which are very customer-centered or on thought-leadership which is very content-centered. These are both important aspects of inbound marketing, it's true. Of course you want your content to both organically generate helpful SEO and provide a real thought-provoking and educating service to your leads but in the dozens of inbound marketing articles we've read (and written) in the past several months, it should be noted that a single key element is hardly ever mentioned - Consistency.
What is Consistency in Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is an incredibly solid strategy based on the customs of our current society. Absolutely everyone from third-graders to grandmas use search engines to answer questions and solve their problems. Therefore, if your business is the answer to any common problem (and most businesses are), then writing articles and social media content about how to solve these problems will naturally bring search engine seekers to your content, websites, and eventually to your services.
But the first article isn't always the one that achieves conversion. Often people with, say, old plumbing will research plumbing solutions several times before they realize they are always taking advice from your site and have begun to instinctually seek you out for plumbing advice. They are now much more likely to call up your professionals for plumbing service because you have already effectively helped them. Why did this habit and positive association form? Because your articles were consistently and then predictably useful.
Consistency and Lead Nurturing
As you can see, many of the things that people simply assume as benefits of inbound marketing like building a following of people who look forward to your content is based on consistency. It is the soul of inbound marketing. So why is it forgotten? For the same reason lead nurturing is often left out of a lead increasing strategy. It's stage 2, and everyone is always looking to write and read about stage 1.
Despite the tendency to forget the follow-up steps, the only way to maximize both leads and conversions is to engage in lead nurturing. Those first clicks are meaningless unless they come back, learn to trust your brand, and actually decide to make a purchase. This means that you want people to come to rely on you, to stay hooked once they find your content the first time, and know that they can count on your content to provide the same quality and format of service every time. Combined with the necessity to stay interesting, you face a necessary challenge to both innovate and maintain consistency at the same time.
Building Consistency In Your Blog
The first and easiest asset to work within the suite if inbound marketing tools is a blog. Static, simple to write, and elementary to maintain as far as web administration goes, any startup with an online presence can start a blog and most of them have. Blogging is also one of the easiest ways to create a consistent and reliable service for your online community. First, choose a few themes that will guide your blog series. By having a variety of categories, you can keep your content lively while still creating predictable formats. Many businesses go with a combination of DIY how-to guides, industry news, human interest updates from inside the company, and educational pieces for customers and colleagues.
Where does the consistency come in? For each theme you chose, build a format. Decide on font style, size, and the layout that each blog will take. If you use how-to's, choose whether or not you'll use bulleted or numbered lists, how the information will be spaced, and so on. If you write news articles, decide how the headings will be prioritized and your style of highlighting key information. Between all your blogs, keep a subtle uniformity of appearance so that they appear to all be made by the same unified designer.
Shooting Consistent Web Videos
Another fun way to create consistency for your inbound marketing content is with web and social videos. These are not only incredibly popular in the social media circles, videos are also a great way to spice up your website and add flavor to your online listings. The best part about web videos is that consistency is easy to understand and create while still mixing up the actual content. Think of your videos as episodes in a series, or perhaps even a set of different series like your blog themes.
For each video series, design the episode format within your time restrictions. These can include segments like host greetings, interviews, reading audience comments, and a call to action at the end. Of course, format consistency for video can also be a lot of other things like shooting style, overlaid UI elements, and sound effects. The key is to create an experience that can be repeated over and over with new and interesting content sandwiched in the middle.
The Importance of Predictability
So why is consistency so powerful from a marketing standpoint, especially in a world where innovation is almost always the right answer? People may want to be entertained, but they also have structured lives that run on routine. When a professional has a fifteen-minute break to relax, catch up on some industry news, and check their email, they don't want a new experience. They want to go to a trusted news source, read an article of a predictable length and content quality, and finish their snack in the same amount of time every day. When people need to look something up fast, they go to a source they know has information that is easily understood and translated into actions.
This means that the best way to turn your inbound marketing leads into loyal customers who will come back time and time again is to provide not just high quality, thought-leadership content, but to make sure that both your format and quality are so predictable that your customers can count on them on a tight schedule and in emergencies as well as idle internet research time.
To learn more about how to improve your marketing strategies, give us a call at 661-702-1310!