There’s a heavy gray cloud looming over the heads of Inbound Marketers these days. And no, I’m not talking about the economy. The question is at our core: Where is content going, and how will it change the business of marketing as we know it?
Today, blogging is the reality in which we live. It’s active. There’s participation, and a lot of people are putting full-force imagination into strong content creation efforts. Blogging that’s rich with content and full of visual appeal is what customers are hungry for, and that gives marketers a huge advantage.
But could something become better than blogging? Might there be a waiting consumer base that would be attracted by something else? Maybe they’re unwilling to read 800-word blogs or they think businesses’ information is unreliable. Perhaps they’re too focused on internal business operations to worry about marketing. How do we reach out to them?
Recently, I’ve seen several experiments in this area that I think are worth watching. The first was a piece of news I talked about late last year about Coca-Cola and their new attempt at building a news media site to boost content production. Now a second story has come to the forefront—and this one’s an Inbound Marketing art piece.
Earlier this week, Hilton, a leader in the hotel and leisure business, launched a new content unit that takes interactivity and sales funnel organization to a new level.
After several years of struggling to get the right visitors to the right places, Hilton is launching what it calls the Urgent Vacation Care Center—an online portal where prospects can interact with an application that makes recommendations about where they should vacation. At the same time, the Care Center is a site where Hilton can publish updates on great “leisure headline” stories, as well as post via Twitter. After customers go through the Care Center, they are urged to subscribe to the Vacation updates—an instant lead conversion tool.
To a basic user, the site looks pretty basic—a nice survey that gets you thinking about vacations, some great tools for solving “Vacationitis”—but Inbound Marketers should really take note. This isn’t just a content marketing page that offers some creative twists. This is a full-service lead conversion and nurturing machine.
Rather than having a blog, a social page, CTAs, and a landing page, Hilton’s Urgent Vacation Care Center takes a more integrated, content-oriented approach. They want you to see great vacation deals while taking the Vacationitis test. They want to offer legitimate content (i.e. actual studies on the importance of leisure) as you get updates from Twitter. The Care Center aims to tie the content draw and lead generation much more closely together.
At the end of your diagnostic test for Vacationitis, is an instant lead generation machine. The important thing here is that the entire test is full of great content, so you’re immediately reminded why you should click ‘yes’ to receiveing e-mail updates.
They don’t leave CTAs hanging out to dry either. Like other Inbound Marketing sites, Hilton has its main component plus complementary side avenues toward the sales funnel. By clicking on the clicker at the top, you’ll get high-quality, humorous illustrations of Hilton’s Vacationitis that are instantly shareable. While it doesn’t carry users straight to the landing page, they take a different approach by encouraging users to share online as much as possible—a kind of delayed benefit that I’m sure pays off later.
Obviously, not all companies can build a site that is as integrated and as well planned as Hilton's, but for many, it's not too far out either--a simple form, nice graphics, a twitter feed, etc. These are all things that you can emulate. If you have a web designer on your staff, try thinking outside the box about ways to bring in non-blog readers and how to add interactivity to your site.
Hilton has built a high-quality Inbound Marketing platform that I'm sure will bring in hundreds of leads. To get started with your sales funnel, educate yourself on the steps to implementing Inbound Marketing with our step-by-step guide.