As we’ve noted before, inbound marketing is all about getting the right content to the right people at the right time. But what is the right content? Who are the right people? And what, exactly, is the right time? As a content writer and business owner, I’m always on the lookout for tools that will help me answer these questions, both for my own business and my clients’ businesses. One tool I’ve had a lot of success with lately has been the popular question and answer site, Quora.
According to the site’s “About” page, “Quora is a collection of questions and answers that is created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it. The main goal is to be the best possible resource for someone who wants to know about each question.”
Quora is a Wikipedia-like resource that allows users to ask and get answers to any question they can think of. It stands out amongst competitors like Yahoo! Answers and Wiki Answers by requiring users to use their real names when answering questions and, as a result, the site’s content quality is extremely high.
Publishers like Forbes and Slate have started using Quora content on their own news sites, and other media outlets have begun experimenting with the best ways to leverage the site’s potential. I’ve used Quora in several different ways in my own business, and I’ve found it to be an excellent tool for a lot of the activities central to inbound marketing.
I own a small, young content development agency that targets marketing managers at medium-to-large-sized SaaS companies. To get some insight into what my target buyers are talking about online, I follow Quora’s SaaS-related topics.
I also use Quora to ask my buyers specific questions. Recently, I was interested in targeting marketing professionals at large nonprofits to find out how they work with freelance writers and content development companies. To get more insight into their operations, I asked things like:
We got some great responses and now have more insight into the ways our target buyers think about their relationships with outsourced content creators. We also have an entirely new buyer persona - “The Small Hospital Marketing Director” – which we didn’t even realize existed before we started our research.
Mid-to-large-sized companies that use inbound marketing for lead generation and revenue growth can get the most out of Quora if they use it to develop buyer personas, source ideas for new content, and maintain a competitive advantage. Here’s a breakdown of some Quora inbound marketing strategies for enterprise organizations:
Optimize Your Buyer Personas
Refine your existing buyer personas. Buyer persona development isn’t a one-time activity. Your ideal customers are constantly changing, using new technologies, and facing new challenges. Following topics that your buyer personas follow will help you stay current on your customers’ top-of-mind concerns, and your personas will stay fresh and accurate.
Develop new buyer personas. When you follow topics that are relevant to your industry, you find out who is actually researching your product. Listen to user’s questions and concerns to get a sense of what they want out of your product, and turn to their user profiles for instant demographic data about their job titles, geographic locations, gender, and age.
Source Ideas for New Content
Get ideas for your blog. By following topics relevant to your industry, you can generate new ideas for blog posts, FAQ’s and whitepapers. Tip: Pay close attention to Quora’s “Most Followed” and “Most Viewed” question lists.
Perform keyword research. Using Quora to find out how potential leads word their questions about your product can lead to new insights into which keywords will have the most impact on your SEO.
Perform a Competitive Analysis
Keep your finger on the pulse of your industry. There’s no shame in following your competitors on Quora. According to John Paul Titlow of ReadWriteWeb, “Checking up on what kinds of questions a competitor is following, or better, the answers they’re giving, can tip you off to what they might have in the pipeline.”
Don’t Try to Market Your Business. The Quora community values transparency, and outright sales pitches aren’t generally well received.
Don’t Put Your Foot in Your Mouth. Journalists and bloggers regularly mine Quora for story sources, so if you’re going to publicly answer a question on behalf of your company, make sure your response is well-thought-out and well-written.
Using Quora for business development is a relatively new idea, but a number of companies have already begun to take advantage of the platform. As marketers continue to search for new and innovative tools to augment their inbound marketing efforts, I think they’ll definitely find Quora to be worth looking into.
Do you use Quora for business development or marketing research? Has it been an effective tool?
Stephanie Kapera is a freelance writer and the co-founder of Up All Night Creative, a Raleigh-based content marketing agency that helps B2B and B2C companies develop magazine-quality web content. Connect with Up All Night on LinkedIn and Twitter to find out more!