The days of the “hard-sell” are over. Today’s marketing approach is less aggressive but highly effective. Known as inbound marketing, this strategy draws prospects to your business through the use of valuable content that encourages them to become loyal customers.
On top of the inbound methodology, marketing automation helps tie it all together, taking the repetitive tasks out of marketers’ hands and enabling them to become more efficient and productive.
If your business is new to the inbound marketing process, we’re here to guide you through it so you can start reaping the benefits of this methodology today.
Let’s start with a quick overview to get you up to date.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Since the inbound marketing methodology erupted into the business world in 2005, it’s changed the marketing landscape for good. A far cry from the traditional outbound marketing efforts, inbound focuses on attracting prospects through high-quality content and other tactics. Interruption marketing was replaced by more deliberate marketing efforts that would draw in an audience with high-quality content.
This is a less aggressive method of getting your message out to your audience, one that helps you build trust and results in loyal customers.
Success with inbound marketing starts with identifying your audience through research like competitor analysis, market analysis, and creating buyer personas. This is key to creating a strategy that is hyper-personalized toward your ideal customer.
Now that you know the “why” of inbound marketing, let’s look into how you can implement this strategy within your business.
The Components of a Winning Inbound Marketing Strategy
After you’ve done the groundwork for your buyer personas and identified your target market you’ll be in a position to create a strategy that provides real results. The inbound methodology is a journey, with a roadmap to guide you toward success.
While the tactics may vary, they all fall under the same umbrella and share the same goals—attract, engage, and delight.
Here’s a sample of an inbound marketing plan that you can start implementing within your organization today.
The first stop on the inbound journey is to attract your audience and to draw them in with engaging, compelling content.
You can do that by:
Blogging serves two important purposes for your business: it is an effective way of driving traffic to your website and it helps establish you as a thought leader in your industry.
To run a successful blog; however, you must be consistent. This doesn’t mean you have to post every day. This means that if you choose to post twice a week, do so every week. This is important because your audience will get used to a cadence and will start to expect it.
Remember, quality over quantity, always. For example, if you can publish four high-quality posts every week, then go for it. If this is unattainable, start off with a more manageable number. This will look different for everyone, so choose a number that you can remain consistent with.
You can use an editorial calendar to help you stay on track and remember to share a variety of different content on your blog. From infographics to videos and long-form content, people consume information in different ways. To resonate with a wider audience, provide a variety of information that will meet the needs of all your readers.
Staying Active on Social Media
Social media is all about sharing content–and having that content reshared. About 90 percent of businesses use social media for marketing purposes. If you don’t currently have a social media presence you’re missing out on a large number of prospects. Sharing cross-platform makes it even easier to get your message out to your audience, regardless of what social channels they’re on.
Automated tools make it easy to schedule content on social media as well as cross-promote easily from one social channel to another. Like blogging, your social posts should be consistent and regular. Keep in mind that depending on the platform, there is a certain etiquette to abide by. For instance, on Instagram and Facebook, posting once a day is typically sufficient.
Look beyond the newsfeed and don’t forget to take advantage of using stories and live video to show the human side of your brand.
Optimizing Your Content
If inbound marketing provides the hook, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the bait. SEO is the process of targeting keywords and phrases that are relevant to you and your target audience’s needs. When done right, it gets you in front of your prospects in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP).
All content on your website and blog should be optimized to bring in traffic to your site. However, the content on your site should be engaging and high-quality enough to keep them coming back.
Once you’ve gotten their attention, you want to keep it. This is where the engage stage comes in. Keep your audience enthralled by:
Email never goes out of style. It’s an effective method to stay in touch with your prospects and customers and to keep them up to date on all your company news. This can be in the form of a monthly newsletter, to announce a new product or service or an upcoming event.
This content should be segmented by persona, to result in a more personalized email. For example, if someone filled out a form and indicated that they are in a certain industry, you can send them an email announcing your latest content related to that industry.
Implementing Lead Nurturing Campaigns
When you receive a lead, whether from an email or your website, you have to nurture them a bit before expecting them to buy. Lead nurturing campaigns help guide your prospects through the buyer’s journey, closer to them becoming a customer. It does this through a series of emails, targeted toward different audience segments to provide a more personalized experience for each audience. The goal is to keep these prospects engaged by giving them the content they need to make an educated decision.
Marketing automation helps simplify this process by taking the repetitive actions out of your hands. Automated workflows help improve the efficiency and success of your lead nurturing campaigns by automatically sending the next email in your sales funnel. This brings them closer to the conversion stage, where all your hard work pays off and you gain a new customer.
Selling Value…Not Products
The inbound methodology has also led to a reimagination of the way companies market their content. Rather than focusing on the features of your product or service, the narrative has changed to focus on what challenges you can solve for your consumers.
A quick audit of your website will show you whether your content is “you” focused or value-focused. Take a look at your homepage. If the majority of your content is about your product and its features, shift it to focus on your ideal client’s challenges and how your solution can solve those challenges.
For example, say you’re a food and beverage company focused on safety.
Instead of saying:
“At XYZ company, we provide the leading product for ensuring food safety,” try “Food safety is your priority and we can help streamline that process for you while keeping your customer’s safe.”
To hone in on the core value of your product, follow Simon Sinek ‘s advice and “start with why.”
Activities like these guide clients to convert and go from educated prospects to loyal customers.
Once you’ve turned your prospects into customers, you want to keep them happy. In doing so, you’ll turn customers into advocates for your brand.
To accomplish this, consider:
Once they’ve become a customer and graduated from your lead nurturing workflow, you should still be emailing them relevant content that will continue to educate them on your products and services. A monthly newsletter targeted toward your existing clients shows that you care about keeping them up to date and keeping the lines of communication open.
Surveys to Guage Satisfaction
You won’t know your customers are happy unless you ask. Surveys are the best way to gauge the satisfaction of your existing customers. By sending out a quarterly or annual survey, you give customer’s the opportunity to address issues that may otherwise cause you to lose them. It also enables you to be proactive by providing insight into areas that need to change.
A happy customer is one that is willing to tell their friends and colleagues about you. In this way, customers are your greatest ally in helping you gain future business. To entice your clients to talk about you, consider implementing a referral program within your business. Something as simple as free passes to your upcoming event, or a percentage off of a new product can go a long way.
Automation: The Driving Force Behind an Effective Inbound Marketing Campaign
Now you know the basics of an effective inbound marketing campaign. Integrating marketing automation with this inbound strategy essentially puts some of these tasks on autopilot, making it easier to connect with your audience and get them the content they need.
Automation simplifies routine tasks that could otherwise cost you time. Rather than having to manually send out emails, an automated strategy does this for you. This means you can focus less on the repetitive processes and more on areas that require you to be hands-on.
Marketing automation is an investment, but it’s one that will provide return on investment (ROI) in terms of both time savings and an increase in qualified leads that turn into customers.
Start Reaping the Benefits of Inbound Marketing Today
Inbound marketing has changed the way businesses market for the better. By identifying your target audience and honing your messaging toward this audience (or audience segments) you’ll be in a position to deliver highly personalized content that will resonate with them. It will also help establish you as a thought leader in your niche, enabling you to extend your reach and not just sell a product or service, but to provide value.
Interested in learning how to implement these strategies in your organization? Get in touch with us today and let’s talk about what inbound marketing looks like for you