We've all been there. It is 11:57 on April 15th and you are working feverishly to complete the last part of your federal tax return. A bead of sweat is dripping down your browas you check every decimal point to ensure you did not make the fatal “audit” mistake. You finally do it; you file your tax return just under the deadline. If you are implementing an Inbound Marketing campaign, you know that in many ways, Inbound Marketing content curation is like preparing an income tax return.
1) Research: It takes countless hours to research the many deductions a taxpayer or business can take in any tax year. Each year the IRS rolls out a new set of rules further complicating the process, requiring further extensive research. The process of creating content for an Inbound Marketing campaign is similar. Once you come up with a topic idea, the content must be remarkable and insightful in order to have an impact on visitors and draw buyers to your site. The more than two million blog posts that are published on the Internet every single day directly impacts the effectiveness of your content since each piece is competing for search engine rank and readers. Research is key to content to make it effective and starting with the right content strategy is key.
2) Organizing: Content is more impactful if it is organized properly. When organizing your source information for a tax return, you sequence the information based on when the tax forms require them, starting with income, then deductions and the dreaded multi-page short and long term capital gains and losses. Organization when preparing a return helps to reduce the time it takes to prepare it, organization of content for a blog post or premium marketing piece does the same. Starting with an outline where you can insert the results of your research makes the writing process productive and fun. Well organized content provides insight to the reader because not only is the information of value, but the order of disclosure enhances the reader experience.
3) Formatting: There is nothing like an un-readable hand-written tax return to trigger an audit by the IRS. Proper formatting and completeness makes the return much less likely to be flagged. Better yet, most are filing returns electronically, the best of all formats for speedy refunds, if you are due one. Content formatting matters too for Inbound Marketing campaigns. A poorly formatted document will not draw the reader into the story, nor will it entice them to click on a well-placed call to action input form. Formatting of premium content is like dressing up for a date or a job interview. The author must toil over every detail until it is right; else you represent your business poorly to the reader.
4) Optimize: Most professional tax preparers optimize the impact of taxes in returns they prepare. They use advanced tax preparation software to find available deductions and help the tax filer avoid loosing deductions because of the dreaded Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) or other circuitous and arcane tax regulations. When preparing content for the Internet, it must also be optimized for the best results, in this case for search engines to find the content when the reader types a problem or a solution they are seeking. SEO is critical for everything that is placed on the web; after all you want the content to be found.
5) Post: Filing a tax return on the IRS website, requires attention to detail as well. Every digit of the person's social security number and numerous other factors have to be right. Once the tax return is carefully posted we wait for the “Return Accepted” notice. Posting of content on a website or blog takes the same care. The timing of blog posts can widely impact the number of readers it receives. When authoring content for another website as a guest blog post or premium content for placement on your website landing page, it may need to be formatted differently. In all cases, the place where you distribute content has a direct impact on it.
6) Distribute: When completing a federal tax return the work is not done. Next is the distribution of the data to the state and local tax authorities. In some cases, the information required can be like starting the tax return from scratch or could be as simple as merely re-distributing the same information as the federal return. Distribution of premium content for and Inbound Marketing campaign includes direct email, social media and direct website channels. There is a science to distribution on social media too, with optimal times of the day, different days where activity is higher. Direct email of content depends on the readiness of the reader to receive it, the so called Buyer’s Journey stages dictate that stage appropriate information should be sent to maximize the reception of it by the buyer.
7) Analyze: Once the tax authorities receive a return they analyze the results with computers that check for every variation and nuance. Assuming your return is prepared properly, a refund or payment is processed with high efficiency. Running an Inbound Marketing campaign is similar because analysis of each phase of the campaign must be performed to maximize the results of the campaign. Analytics enables marketers to test variations of direct emails, landing pages and offers to improve results. Given that the campaign gains enough traffic then it can be tweaked mid-campaign based on the analysis, as well. Understanding the results, including the ROI of the Inbound Marketing campaign, increase in leads, quality of leads provides the guidance for marketers to run more effective campaigns based on what's learned.
Like preparing a tax return, curating content for an Inbound Marketing campaign takes care at each step in the process to do it well. During this tax season and while preparing my own taxes, I came to see the parallels each process shares. Don’t file an extension – get your taxes and content completed on time so you can move onto the next exciting Inbound Marketing campaign.