If you’ve ever worked in digital marketing or have had your hand in driving success for a small business, you’ve probably heard the phrase “inbound marketing” a few times here or there. Plenty of marketers emphasize the importance of inbound marketing in their digital strategy. While inbound marketing can be a bit tricky, it can be incredibly cost-effective, letting you convert customers organically without breaking the bank. Below, you’ll be able to find inbound marketing explained so that you can not only use it, but reap its rewards!
Unlike outbound marketing, inbound is designed to draw potential customers in, rather than pushing a brand, product or service onto prospects in the hope of purchase.
But how is this naturally accomplished? This is handled through a combination of marketing channels leveraged in creative ways all along the sales funnel to attract prospect’s attention. The aim of a successful inbound marketing campaign is to increase reach and drive quality traffic, engagement and conversions using earned media, not bought.
Software provider HubSpot coined the phrase ‘inbound marketing’ back in 2006 and defines inbound marketing as the process of “attracting, converting, closing and delighting customers.” Through using various types of content at different stages of the buying cycle, the ‘inbound methodology’ is “the best way to turn strangers into customers and promoters of your business.”
Many marketers tout the importance and benefits of inbound marketing due to the following results:
These numbers not only shed light on the benefits available to you as a small business owner, it proves it is a cost-effective tool that can boost profits and ensure your advertising budget is well-spent.
Before implementing a long-term strategy, we need to first ask, what goals or solutions are we trying to achieve? Below are the biggest problems that inbound marketing seeks to address:
Up to 93% of buying cycles start with an online search. If your business is at the top of search results, or is active on a social network, you can organically increase your brand awareness (and by default, customer preference) by having the right content and messaging in place to show up in these key channels. By engaging with potential customers before they are thinking about making a purchase, you build trust and increase the likelihood that they will choose you when they are ready to buy.
Inbound marketing is a long-term investment that builds on itself over time. Your results will multiply many times over as you become more savvy at creating and curating content that naturally attracts organic leads.
The more you put into inbound efforts, the more you’ll get out of it. But, if you have a good strategy in place that outlines key themes, content, and distribution to the right personas, you can make sure to avoid wasted efforts.
Creating revenue-generating content at every step in the sales cycle is about regular, quality information rather than a huge budget. You can’t throw money at content and make it effective, you have to put thought and audience-intent into it. Here’s how to get started:
Identify your target audience and learn all you can about them. You can’t write content to inform your customers until you know how they behave in each phase of the funnel. Do they click immediately when receiving an email? Do they enjoy chatting in the comments of social posts? Do they perform in-depth research before buying? Understand their intent. Understand their behaviors. Build their persona.
Preemptively answer and equip your customers at each stage of their buying journey. Determine your unique, compelling story. Why should your audience listen to you? Successful inbound marketing goes beyond traditional techniques. Inbound leverages valuable content to attract and retain customers throughout their entire lifecycle, not just before they are a customer, but after as well. It places heavy emphasis on personalization and relevance, showing you care about customers, no matter what.
Notice, we did not say choose every delivery platform. Too many small businesses and marketers make the mistake of trying to hit everyone, everywhere. This will not only waste resources, but valuable time. Seek to use the platforms that make sense for your buyer personas. The more valuable the content you create for your audience, the more likely you are to win them as customers. Determine the best way to reach them, whether it’s through Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, your blog, or elsewhere.
In order to hit the right audience at the right time in the customer journey, it’s important to create a schedule that will consistently turn out fresh, valuable, and relevant content to continue to engage your audience. By keeping a constant stream of content that addresses your audiences questions, issues, and pain points, you’ll maintain relevance and build your brand as a trusted thought leader. See how to establish a regular content calendar.
There’s a variety of metrics to choose from when measuring the success of your inbound marketing efforts. Whether you decide to analyze SEO rankings, inbound links, or the number of blogs published, these resources will provide valuable insight into how your campaigns are performing. Set aside time for analysis on a weekly and monthly basis. This step will help in understanding how effective your inbound marketing efforts have been and how they can improve. Be sure to also analyze reviews and responses on your engagement channels. Which posts got the most reponses? Which got the most likes/downloads? Were there more links clicked on this than that? Understand and then change to meet the need.
Successful inbound marketing doesn’t happen overnight. It is a long-term investment, intent on nurturing a relationship with your customers and prospects. It takes time to plan, implement and optimize. It can be labor-intensive, but if you put your time and effort into the right evergreen content that meets your key persona’s needs, you should have something that provides value for the foreseeable future. If you’re looking to optimize your content strategy through inbound marketing, we would love to sit down and talk with you about your goals.