Inbound Marketing Works And You Can Start Today
Let's Talk Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Blunt, in-your-face, marketing (known as outbound marketing) as being the best way to reach consumers is changing. Outbound marketing often implies, if not subtly, that you are putting your business’ needs before the consumers’ needs. Inbound marketing takes a much smarter and subtler approach — one that is informative, value-focused, and highly effective.
I’m going to provide some inbound marketing examples and introduce you to a few tools that can change the way you reach your audience of prospects and customers.
First Things First — What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is the practice of engaging an audience through content that adds value and motivates that audience to keep coming back to you to learn more about a given topic or what your business has to offer.
There are three primary facets of inbound marketing — attraction, engagement, delight. That is to say, we want to attract consumers who are interested in the subject matter (product, service, etc), engage them with useful information (not a sales pitch or your life story), and then delight them when they decide to become a customer. You may think it ends here, but it does not.
If you create informative content that speaks to your audience, you will be one step closer to building a relationship with that audience, and that will keep them coming back over and over again. The key is to find out what your audience needs and what they consider useful information. How do you find out what they need? Lots of research.
Creating and understanding customer personas that profile each of your customer types is key. You’ll inevitably have multiple personas as a part of your strategy, each describing different needs. This means you’ll need to create content that caters to each of these different personas.
This may seem complicated, but as a business owner, you probably already know what these are. A persona is just a profile of a type of customer that already buys from you.
Now that you’ve attracted your ideal audience with something useful, you want them to stick around for a while, and ultimately you want them to convert (aka buy or take a significant step towards becoming a customer).
Sometimes conversion is as simple as asking. The way you ask online is by using what is known as a Call-To-Action or CTA. This can be as simple as a “Download Our eBook” button at the end of a blog post a button linking to a free in-store offer. This is known as lead generation, and it’s a central element of inbound marketing. It is also the first tangible step in getting prospects into your sales funnel with hopes of moving them down the funnel over time.
When your ideal customer takes this action, you will have their contact information and will be able to nurture them through your buy cycle using email marketing. The idea is that they will be ushered through the funnel and ultimately convert to a paying customer.
At this point, you’ve delivered useful, relevant content that encourages your audience to want to know more. You have also gotten their contact information and they’ve become a customer.
DO NOT RELAX because the process doesn’t end here, by a long stretch.
As we tell our clients, great inbound (and outbound) marketing can get your audience to the door, but you have to wow them when they walk through it. That’s all customer service.
Moving back to the online world: you must keep your new customers happy and engaged, and continue to deliver useful informative content. After they have experienced your business first-hand, offer them a feedback survey so that you know exactly why the customer is (or isn’t) happy. Set up a referral program to make it easy for them to refer you to their friends. To encourage these referrals, make sure to offer something of value!
Creating habits that delight your customers will not only keep them coming back, but they will bring friends.
Inbound Marketing In Practice
Now that you know the reasoning behind inbound marketing, here are some examples of inbound marketing that you can start using today.
Inbound Marketing Tools
As you may suspect, this is a highly competitive space and there are far too many great tools to list here. Everyone has their favorites including this writer. I will name a few so you can get the flavor of the types of tools that are required.
If you want to know exactly what visitors to your site are doing when they get there and how they actually use the site, Lucky Orange is a great tool. It supports heat-maps, scrolling and navigation logs, session tracking, and several other analysis related to user experience (UX).
They also have tight integration with CRM tools like Hubspot so you can track your customers’ behavior when they come to your site. This may seem a little creepy or big brother-ish, but it is happening on every major website you visit and is the new online world-order.
To be successful with an inbound marketing campaign, you need to target the right audience and provide them with the relevant content. BuzzSumo helps you find topics that work — ones that resonate with your audience.
When you enter a topic you will get a report on how that topic performs online and how many times the topic has been shared on social media. You can also get an idea of how well your competitors’ content performs in relation to that topic. This is very helpful in knowing how to leapfrog them in search engine ranking.
Hubspot isn’t for everyone, but their marketing automation tools are solid and they enable you to create a complete inbound marketing experience that includes content optimization and promotion, lead nurturing, and reporting. This can be incredibly useful in understanding your customers’ journey through the funnel and engaging them over the long term.
Hubspot helps manage the relationships you form with website visitors, leads, and clients. It tracks all interactions with customers so you can better understand them and continue to meet their needs, even as those needs change over time. It’s not magic and requires a little work and management, but it usually pays high dividends to those who go all-in.
Hubspot is not the only CRM for online automation, but it is proven and works well for those who want to manage their customer experience by understanding the data that drives it.
Now You Know
Integrating strong, consistent inbound marketing principles, like the ones we’ve covered here, into your own marketing efforts will certainly establish your business as an authority and keep your audience coming back. These principles put into practice are cost-effective, stand the test of time, and will help you build brand awareness.
If you are interested in learning more about how inbound marketing could work for your business, contact us and we’ll show you how to take the first steps toward success.