Hello and welcome! You might have found yourself here for a number of reasons. Maybe you’re wondering what inbound marketing is, or maybe you’re worried you’re wasting your time on something that doesn’t deliver. Perhaps thirteen is your lucky number.
Whatever the reason, I’m glad you’re here. We have a journey to go on, and it has the potential to transform your business for the better. That’s right, it’s a journey through inbound marketing.
But first, let’s understand the difference between inbound and outbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and more. You essentially create free things people like to draw them in (lead generation) and then use the good will to promote your paid products (conversion).
Outbound marketing refers to things like cold emails, cold calls, billboards, print ads, radio ads etc. These are traditional methods that, thanks to increased saturation and changing consumer habits, are not as effective as they used to be.
Inbound marketing, when done well, is now the most successful means of marketing in a modern context. It’s not about reaching out, it’s about drawing in.
To achieve this, you need a well-planned, strategic campaign that will enable you to work smarter and maximize your ROI.
With inbound marketing, you are already being more targeted. You are addressing people who are already qualified and have some knowledge of your topic area. What’s more, those same people are already actively looking for answers in your product or service area.
This alone allows inbound marketing to be more effective.
Equally, when it comes to converting leads into sales, inbound marketing has shown to be 10x more effective. As such, it really is the King of marketing strategies.
This is true for many reasons, and those reasons are the topic of today’s post. Still not convinced? Read on to discover why, and how inbound marketing can be so much more effective.
A competent inbound marketing strategy works so well because it’s a potent cocktail of several different elements, all of which work together to create a preferable experience for customers.
So what is the alchemy that goes into an intoxicating marketing elixir?
If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? If you have a great product and no one knows about it, does it make money? Hint: No. No it doesn’t.
For almost every business, it’s true to say that the majority of the population are blissfully unaware you exist. Harsh at that may seem, your bank balance will thank you if you take efforts to change that. You have to attract customers to your business.
People may be a stranger to your brand. So you have to build awareness, reach new audiences, and draw new traffic to the website.
How do I attract people?
I’m not a pick-up artist, that’s a different conversation. You can attract customers, however, through blogging, SEO, social media. Creating content creates opportunities for people to discover you. What’s more, these people will already have a vested interest in your sphere of operation (provided your content is relevant, which it should be).
So you create your content and lo! Visitors start to arrive. Job done? Well, not exactly. Once you have visitors, the goal then becomes transforming them into customers. This can be immediate, like a sale then and there, or indirect, such as sharing contact information for future marketing. This is called conversion. “convert” or share their contact information with you for future marketing.
How do I convert people?
Through religious experiences I guess? You convert customers through lead generation, content offers, conversion rate optimization.
Once you have leads, you need to close. This means making the sale you always intended to make when you started them down this road. Think of your marketing as a corridor, and your product is behind the final door. Leads may not be ready to walk through that door, and you need to give them the support and guidance they need to feel confident to grab the handle.
How do I close customers?
Aha! Now you’ve got it. You can convert customers in a number of ways, but some of the most effective are:
If you want people to drink this magic marketing potion, you’d better make it taste nice. In real terms, that means making all your communication an enjoyable experience for readers. By doing this, you’ll encourage repeat business and establish long-term loyalty from your customers, converting them once again into your most powerful weapon: promoters.
Keep the relationship alive and well to encourage repeat business, referrals and positive reviews. This is how you earn loyal customers and promoters.
How do I delight customers?
You can delight your customers through personalization – making your messaging speak directly to them as individuals and spending time responding to their unique concerns. This can be achieved through community engagement, either through social media comments sections or forums. You can even use surveys to discover what your audience wants more of.
So, now we’ve discussed how inbound marketing works, let’s look at what inbound marketing enables you to do. After all, a methodology is only as useful as the advantages it gives you, and that’s what I promised you at the top of this post. Fortunately for me, the importance of inbound marketing comes from its advantages, so it’s an easy sell.
A few years ago, it was easy to create a piece of content or an outbound message and grab the attention of your target audience. Both online and offline, the density of messaging was much more sparse, which meant you could easily stand out in the ‘whitespace’ of life.
In 2017, that whitespace is GONE. People are bombarded with advertising everywhere, on every device, at home, and at work.
Now that consumers are confronted by outbound strategies constantly, people have become incredibly skilled at narrowing their attention to focus only on what they want to see. Outbound did that, and we’ll be living with that legacy for a long time to come.
People, which lest we forget includes marketers and salesmen, are sick and tired of “Buy! Buy! Buy!” ads. Traditional TV advertising has changed, most notably through the use of what I call the ‘viral non-sequitor’.
They try and get ‘virality’ by juxtaposing unrelated elements together to try and surprise people, shocking them out of their practiced and automatic ad-filtering. Virgin’s Sofa Bear is one example, but there are thousands.
It comes off as shallow attention seeking, because it doesn’t actually change anything that matters to an audience. It doesn’t solve a problem and it doesn’t connect to their lives.
The problem is this: no one cares that you want to make money. So don’t be a salesman who just wants to make a buck.
Inbound marketing inverts this relationship. It puts the customer first, and makes you work hard to give them what they really need.
Take time to listen to your target market. The simplest form of content marketing is this: give a name to their problem, give them a list of solutions, and then introduce yourself. This is how to gain respect.
Think of inbound marketing like a friendship. What are the qualities you want in a friend? Trustworthiness, reliability, a sense of humor, basic competence, and a unique perspective.
When customers see that you are creating useful content, that you’re professional, that you’re knowledgeable in your field, they can’t help but have more respect for you. Respect multiplies in time and becomes trust.
If someone trusts you, of course, they are more likely to buy from you. If you have educated people as to their problems, and your products equip to tackle the challenges in their lives, however abstract, people are exponentially more likely to purchase.
This is the essence of inbound marketing. If you remember nothing else from this article, remember this.
A quick thought experiment:
You are walking down the street desperate to sneeze. Seeing your plight, a passing pharmacist produces a handkerchief and some anti-histamines and offers them to you, explaining his shop is just around the corner.
The next day, you are feeling better. All of a sudden, someone thrusts a handkerchief at you and explains the thread count, who made it, what it can do, and that you can get it today only, for a price, in a shop around the corner.
The first is a warm lead, the second a cold. If the customer is in need and has reached out to you, you know they are interested. As such, a lead created through inbound marketers is much more likely to close than someone who might feel pressganged or pressured into entertaining a pointless conversation a little longer, wasting their time and yours.
With outbound, as soon as you stop paying, you stop seeing results. With inbound, your content is always there and if you’re in the right business, so is the need. Leads are drawn over time, and the longer your article gets traffic, the higher it will rank, making it even more likely to gain traffic. That’s why blog content creation is the number 1 priority for a majority of marketers.
This, in turn, will lead to increased recognition among people searching for solutions, and make them more likely to share your articles with people in a similar position. Put simply, it’s a gift that keeps on giving.
Inbound marketing is all about communication and dialogue. By engaging in this, you can learn useful things about your audience that will help you convert. You can create more accurate buyer personas, which will help you speak their language. This will enable you to ask the right questions on your landing page forms. Social listening will enable you to pick up trends and anticipate what content you should be producing.
Actively listening to your customers is a huge key to success in inbound marketing and importantly, in PR.
Marketers struggle with metrics. Unlike outbound marketing, where tracking the impact of actions taken can be described as ambiguous at best, inbound marketing is supported by a wide range of software designed to make metrics as revealing and detailed as possible.
With tools like Hubspot, SEOPressor, and RankReveal, you can have all your analytics plugged into your WordPress website, not only reporting on how your published material is doing, but actively making your new content better.
Use SEOPressor to optimize your on-page SEO to be ranked on Google.
Use RankReveal to discover what keywords you’re ranking for.
With these reports, you’ll be able to refine your marketing process.
Time spent on inbound is time spent on strong leads. Time spent spamming emails to hundreds of people who don’t know or care what you offer is time wasted.
Inbound allows you to focus your time effectively, which means less time on marketing and more on building your business infrastructure to cope with the influx of traffic you’re building.
Sales reps, paid advertising, PR. All these things come at a cost, and their ROI is dubious at best. You can track and optimize the investment you make in content, which itself requires a fraction of the workforce. It creates 10x as many leads, meaning your money is working harder, allowing you to achieve more on a smaller budget.
An important thing for marketers to recognize is that people aren’t just looking for a product anymore. They are looking for a local business to buy from. The business they choose may be based on convenience, user ratings, trust, reputation and more. All these factors are actively managed by inbound.
In order to secure these potential customers, businesses need to make sure they provide the information customers are searching for. They may not know when they start their journey into Google that it will end in a purchase, but your job is to reveal this as the best possible solution.
That’s a vast majority, which means if you aren’t using inbound marketing, you’re in trouble. Your competitors have you at a disadvantage and will hoover up traffic that may have once gone to your website. Inbound is the future of your marketing, and for your competitors, it is their present.
We’ve talked about the momentum inbound content creates already, but we haven’t discussed the amplification that comes with an accumulation of content.
One piece will grow more powerful over time, but every time you add a new piece into the mix, it will compound and add value to previous and future content.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the importance of a first impression. Inbound makes that first impression helpful, informative and actionable. Outbound techniques are more likely to make it easily ignorable or annoying. As such, they can’t help but have less effect.
If you are building your business, build it on something that can last forever, not as long as you keep pay. Think of it like building your offices as opposed to renting – it may take longer to start with, but it’ll be yours forever at the end.
As I’ve just pointed out, inbound marketing takes time. But that also allows you to pace yourself. You can grow sustainably, instead of perpetuating the boom and bust culture that has caused so many problems in the world economy.
You can carefully select the employees you need to continue to grow as the inbound marketing snowball gets bigger, in turn bringing in more leads. It should pay for itself, and always deliver more than it costs.
The snowball effect is precisely why it is so important: after a small initial push, it will gather momentum with less and less energy required from you for it to grow. It will grow itself.
Let’s recap. Inbound marketing describes a mix of website optimization, content creation, search engine optimization, email marketing, lead generation, and social media marketing.
That’s a diverse array of approaches, but there are tools and resources that can help you master each affordably. Taken together, they can act cohesively to produce extraordinary results.
So don’t find yourself stuck in the noughties. We are closer to 2020 than 2010, and existing marketing has shown very clearly what the future holds. Inbound means going onward and upward.
Next week, we’ll talk about the inbound marketing techniques that you can try for your businesses.
If you have any inbound marketing tips and tricks, feel free to share them in the comments below! Were you sceptical about inbound marketing only to realise the keys to success – your story could inspire others to make the change, so share it with us!
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