Marketing has changed. The old forms of outbound marketing have lost their effectiveness, and a new breed has taken over. Inbound marketing is the process of offering value to a target audience and letting them come to you.
If you plan on staying alive in the modern business environment, you need to start implementing inbound marketing strategies. Because they are almost 5x as effective as outbound strategies per dollar spent, you’d be a fool to ignore them. In fact, if your company is like most, you can’t afford not to.
Starting An Inbound Marketing Campaign Is Essential
Every industry is saturated. It’s the way of the modern economy. There’s always a new angle and a new take worth exploring, and many entrepreneurs realize the barrier to entry in nearly every business has been lowered because of the internet and mobile-device based options. That means it’s more important than ever to differentiate your business.
Inbound marketing strategies are the key to that. They allow you to share your expertise and personality while focusing on a niche within your industry. By building your online presence in a way that engages your target audience, you create a level of visibility that you otherwise couldn’t in today’s economy.
Inbound Marketing Doesn’t Work Like Outbound
Traditional outbound marketing requires you to spend money to gain a certain number of leads. You find people and force your way into their lives, all so you can pitch them. The goal is to get an immediate sale. When you think about it, it’s kind of a rude way to do business, and most people don’t like it.
Inbound marketing is quite the opposite. As a passive form of marketing, your content naturally finds its way into your audience’s lives and nurtures their buying process. It builds trust, authority, and loyalty before it asks for a sale. In a way, it’s a little like courtship. It takes time and patience, but usually returns results that make outbound campaigns pale in comparison.
For Your Inbound Marketing To Work, You’ve Got To Remember The Basics
Before you take of on an inbound marketing campaign, you’ve got to understand what it’s going to take to make it work. There are a few important details that, if ignored, will render your strategy useless. Some of it is common sense stuff.
I have outlined the most important things to remember below, as well as what to do with them. By studying them and focusing on them first, you’ll improve your odds of having success with your campaigns. Plus, they’re simple enough to figure out that anyone who can write can handle it.
You Have To Know Your Audience
Before you get started with any content-related strategy, especially when it focuses on inbound marketing, you need to know your audience. After all, these are the people you’ll be creating your content for. You need to know enough about them that you know how to engage them, capture their attention, and motivate them to continue communication with you.
Study who your ideal customers are and create a customer profile around them. A customer profile is a complete, thorough, and detailed description of all the data you have about that customer archetype. The more information you have on each of your customer archetypes, the better you can tailor your content to them.
Find out and include as much as possible. Where do they like to eat? How old are they? What leisure activities do they participate it? What career are they in? Do they have children? The more you can cover and the more specific you can be, the easier your job will be.
Consistently Post New Content For Your Audience
Once you know who you’re creating content for you need to move on to deciding when to produce it. Keeping a consistent schedule will help keep your audience engaged, which usually results in a greater loyalty down the line. Ultimately, loyalty is the most valuable thing you’ll build with a great inbound marketing strategy.
Determine how much time and resources you have to dedicate to your inbound marketing efforts. Because content creation requires time and often requires spending on media elements (like imagery and video), you have to make sure you don’t overcommit yourself.
Set a budget of both time and money. Then figure out what you can create with that time and money every week. Maybe you can only produce content once a week. Maybe you can produce four times a week. Maybe every day. Regardless, commit to a frequency of no less than once a week. But be careful not to overcommit. Inbound marketing shouldn’t cost sales by draining your time and money from other areas of business.
The Quality Of Your Content Will Determine Your Results
You know who you’re creating for and when you’re creating. Now it’s time to decide what to create. This is an important part of the process because poor content will kill you. If you decide to take the fast and easy road with content creation, your audience will simply ignore you.
Choose topics that your audience cares about when planning your subjects. From them, select those topics related to your industry that you have expertise in. The idea behind a great inbound marketing effort is to prove yourself as an authority in your industry.
Once you have your topics chosen, you’re going to want to write about them in a way that’s entertaining and engaging. Don’t be afraid to show a little personality when you write. Also, try to write like you’re giving a speech. When you engage directly with your audience, they’ll connect to your content better.
Your Content Needs To Be Easy To Share
Once you have fantastic content that your audience loves, you need to make it simple to share. Understand that most people who find your content aren’t going to do it through social media. Search engines are still the primary source of traffic for most websites. That means there’s no convenient share button unless you put one there.
Be sure that every piece of content on your website has a quick link to share it. Something at the bottom of the article is good, but it’s better if you can have something on the side of the page that generally stays in view. By adding share buttons where they’re easy to find, people can in one quick click share the content they enjoyed with their friends.
It’s important to include the right networks, too. If your audience primarily uses a social network that you haven’t included, they’re not going to share it. The big three – Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn – are most important, but including Pinterest, Reddit, or Google Plus might benefit your target audience as well. Try to use your customer profiles to really understand which social networks you should include.
Deliver Value Before You Ask For Anything
Any inbound marketing strategy should be driving new leads. That’s the entire point of marketing. That means, at some point, your content should include something asking for their contact information. If your content provided value, asking for their email address shouldn’t be that big an issue. Provided they give you a correct one, that is.
If you want more than your visitor’s email address, and you want to validate the contact information, you’ve got to offer more value. Lead magnets – eBooks, white papers, and other downloadable content – are a great way to do that. By offering more information than they initially came for and offering access in exchange for their information, they’re more likely to give you more.
77% of B2B buyers will exchange more than just their email address for a great piece of downloadable content. By offering an eBook or white paper, you can ask for names, company info, and even contact numbers. Just be careful to only ask for the information relevant to what you’re offering. If you ask for too much, they’ll be put off.
Have Patience With Your Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing strategies aren’t fast. They take time, patience, and consistency before you see them pay off. However, by putting in the effort and offering the best value possible, you’ll begin to see leads driven to your site before you know it.