By now, you may have heard about a form of internet-based marketing known as inbound marketing.
If you follow our blog, you’ve definitely heard of it.
It’s not something new.
Marketers have been using it and improving their strategies since 2006.
What you might now know is why it’s such a hot topic in the marketing world, and why it has been for so long.
Today, I want to help you understand the value of inbound marketing for your business.
I also want to make sure you know what you’re getting into.
You Ought To Start By Understanding What Inbound Marketing Is
Inbound marketing is the process of bringing in leads through your website.
It’s a passive form of marketing that works over time.
The idea is simple; instead of forcing your way into the customer’s life through paid advertising, you earn the right to market to them by delivering value.
In a way, it reverses the role of company and client, creating an awareness that intrigues the customer into seeking out the company.
Unlike traditional outbound marketing where the company seeks the client.Inbound marketing doesn't impose itself on the consumer. Click To Tweet
It is primarily data driven, with every company needing to constantly improve their tactics.
Using blogs, SEO, SEM, and social media, content is delivered to a targeted market, offering information designed to help a potential client.
Through that information, those potential clients eventually convert to leads.
It’s a great system, incredibly cost-effective, and tends to grow its own results over time.
Inbound Marketing Requires You To Shift Your Perspective
Before you get started on your inbound marketing strategies, you’re going to want to correct some ways of thinking.
Many people feel that, to make a sale, you have to push the sale all the time.
They also feel that you can’t give the “secret sauce” away for free.
But in reality, that’s playing defense in marketing.
And when you play defense, you’re reacting instead of controlling.
Inbound marketing is playing offense.
You are taking control of the situation by making the market aware of your business, then letting the market react.
You become obsessively focused on delivering value.
You stop selling and start educating.
That’s the way your perspective has to change.
And until your perspective changes, it’s not going to feel like you’re in control.
Today, my goal is to help shift your perspective so you can get off of defense and start playing offense.
People Research For Months Before They Buy
Nobody buys right away.
Most people like to do research, especially with all the information on the web.
It’s common for a consumer to want to know as much as possible about what they’re about to get into.
That’s one of the reasons inbound marketing works so well.
According to Marketing Donut, 63% of your leads aren’t going to be ready to buy for another 3 months minimum.
A whole 20% aren’t even going to be ready for another year.
So what exactly does that mean?
It means communication is super important.
For at least the next three months you need to stay fresh in their minds.
So, what do you suppose those leads are doing for those three months?
They’re getting educated.People extensively educate themselves about a product or service before they spend money on it. Click To Tweet
What a great opportunity to help yourself get back in front of them so they keep thinking of you!
You have got to put some great communication tactics in place, making sure you’re reaching out to your leads often.
Email, in this case, is your best friend.
Remember that 72% of consumers would rather be contacted by a company via email than any other form of communication.
If you want to earn those leads as customers when they’re ready to buy, provide them value through your emails.
Send them whitepapers, ebooks, case studies, and blog articles.
With emails like that coming through, you’re going to earn their trust and stay in their brain.
When they’re ready to buy, guess who they’re gonna call.
Whatever you do, you can’t devalue the leads that aren’t ready now.
After all, they’re interested in what you do. That’s why they gave you their email address.
Chances are, they’ll eventually buy. You need to make sure it’s from you.
That’s why it’s so important you nurture them through their buying journey.
Lead Nurturing Is Way More Effective
Speaking of which, did you know that lead nurturing is a way more effective way to make sales?
I know what you’re thinking.
Nurturing takes time. How can it be more effective?
Well, it’s about cost-to-benefit in this case.
See, unless you’re dying to make a sale today to stay afloat (which means you have bigger problems than marketing), you probably want to earn more while spending less.
Am I right?
So, what if you were getting 50% more leads who were ready to buy while spending 33% less money?
According to a report from Forrester Research, that’s what’s going to happen when you nurture your leads.
Caution, Forrester charges a fee to read that report.
But remember, inbound marketing isn’t just about making content.
Your company’s ability to nurture your leads through the sales process is going to be a huge factor in how fast and how big it grows.Like any relationship, you've got to nurture the one between your company and your potential customers. Click To Tweet
You’ve got to plan out every phase of your leads’ buyer journeys to be an incredible experience.
You want to think about:
- How are you going to communicate with them?
- What are you going to share with them?
- How often will you send correspondence?
- What kind of tone are you going to use?
- What kind of guidance will you offer?
- How are you reflecting your company’s persona?
Do it right, they’ll familiarize themselves with your company, grow to like it, and develop trust in.
They’ll start to think of you first in your industry.
Do it wrong… well, don’t do it wrong.
That’s going to create a huge negative brand perception that you’re going to have to overcome.
Nobody wants that.
Just remember that the time you spend nurturing leads is worth it.
It can be really easy to dismiss it in favor of spending the time with the leads who are ready to buy right now.
But that means ignoring a ton of leads who will be buying soon.
Most Of Your Market Will Not Buy Right Away
Imagine ignoring 97% of your market.
That’d be stupid, right?
But according to Vorsight, only 3% of your market is ready to buy right now.
40% are almost ready to buy, but still need a little time, and 56% aren’t ready.
If you’re only spending time with the leads who are ready to buy right now, you’re alienating a ton of leads.
This is where inbound marketing takes over.
You’re not creating content for the 3%. The content is for everyone else.
Your content should be hitting people in the awareness stage of their buying journey.
That means you’ll be trying to attract that 40% of your market who is just getting ready to buy.
Side note: pay attention to the number of “bottom-of-the-funnel” leads you have.
3% is the mark. If you have more, congratulations.
If you have less, change something.
Your content should focus on the things that will turn the 40% who are getting ready to buy into the 3% who are actively buying.You can't grow your business by focusing only on the 3% of your market that's ready to buy. Click To Tweet
It should also prime them to buy from you.
By taking advantage of some excellent content strategies, you can produce the content that will move them through their buying journey.
Execute those strategies truly well and they’ll become your clients.
You Can Get Way More Leads For Way Less Money
Yes, I’m absolutely serious.
Traditional outbound marketing tends to cost quite a bit of money.
It makes sense when you think about it.
A lot of outbound marketing requires printed materials, postage, and sometimes ad placement.
It can also include a lot of frustrating cold-calls (which are bad for your company’s reputation).
Postage, especially for a mailing service, costs a fortune.There is nothing I hate more than cold-calls, no matter which end of the phone I'm on. Click To Tweet
Cold-calling eats up time you could spend more effectively.
Like creating content for your inbound marketing strategy.
See, according to The Content Marketing Institute, content marketing creates 300% more leads than outbound marketing.
It costs 62% less.
You’re not going to scoff that off, are you? Because that would be dumb.
But if you want to get numbers like that, you have to become a lead funnel pro.
But on top of understanding what goes into a proper lead funnel, you have to know how to optimize it.
You also have to realize it includes:
- Long-form blog content
- Website page content
- Paid ad content
- Email content
- Social media content
and, if you’re smart
- Video content
- Audio content
Notice how many times I repeated the word “content”?
That’s because content sits at the core of all marketing.
You’ve got to consider all these content channels when you plan and execute your strategy.
More Content Is More Valuable, Which Ranks Better
This is going to be a little tough to swallow.
Writing long-form content is going to make a big difference in your results.
I know. Nobody liked to write long papers in high school or college (except me, but I’m weird).
Now that we’re all out of school, we really don’t want to.
But believe it or not, that 16-page final you did for your English Lit class taught you a valuable marketing skill.
Long-form content holds huge value.
In school, it was your ability to pass. In marketing, it’s your ability to get good SERP rankings from Google.
What the hell am I talking about?
Ok, Quick Sprout tells us that the average length of a top 10 SERP result for damn near anything is 2,000 to 2,500 words long.
You understand that’s the length of a good college paper, right?
It’s interesting to note why that happens.Believe it or not, people are more drawn to longer articles than they are shorter ones. Click To Tweet
Data shows that the average person prefers long-form content when they’re looking for answers.
I’d guess it’s because the answer is more complete.
Google is totally data-driven, so when it can determine that people like something, it’s going to serve up more of it.
Note the data:
- Longer content gets more backlinks
- People tend to share longer content on social more often
- Search query length is statistically increasing
- Conversion rates tend to be higher on long-form content
I want to point out that your content can’t only have length. Crappy content doesn’t do any of that.
That means you need a plan.
You need to research what your audience wants to know, then figure out how you’re going to educate them.
You need to tighten your strategies and get them working together.
That’s got the added benefit of making content creation easier.
And if it’s easier, you can do more of it.
Greater Frequency Is Tied To Better Results
So, at this point, you’re probably not excited to have to start writing college papers again.
If that’s true, I have bad news.
It’s better if you can do it more often. Like, minimum once per week.
Ideally, you’ll do it daily.
You’re probably not thrilled by that, so let me help you understand why you should be.
I’ll let you think about that for a minute.
I don’t know what your current site traffic is, but 500% of that is an improvement, isn’t it?
I’m not sure what you could do with that much more traffic based on your current conversion rate, but it suddenly makes writing that many words that often worth it.Even if you can't blog daily, you should still be blogging at least weekly. Click To Tweet
By this point, if you’re not excited about the possibilities, you need to check your pulse.
Aside from that benefit, there are a ton of other benefits you’re missing out on because you don’t blog.
- Blogs show thought leadership
- You can communicate better with your prospects
- Content improves your odds of getting found in search
Don’t feel pressured to blog daily.
You may not have the manpower or creativity to produce content that often.
Every couple of days is still fine.
No matter what, never drop below once per week. That’s the line where effectiveness seems to go away.
Also, remember that every audience is different.
You may need to mix up your content quite a bit to find the content that works best for your business.
Video Will Change Your Search Results
Video is definitely one of those content types you want to check out.
People love to watch video.
In fact, about 5 billion videos get watched on YouTube every single day.
That’s a ton. No, more than a ton. I can’t even process that.
Look, the point is that people like to watch video. Often more than they like reading.
That’s why you need to make it a part of your content strategy.
There are tons of stats that back video as a great medium, too.
- Video helps grow revenue 49% faster
- 64% of people purchase a produce after watching a branded social video
- 59% of executives will watch the video instead of reading the text
- Video increases traffic from SERPs by 157%
- Landing page videos can increase conversions by 80% or more
- Having a video on a landing page makes it 53% more likely to hit page 1
- Blogs with video get 3x as many backlinks
Have I convinced you yet?
That’s really just the tip of the iceberg.
The second biggest search engine on the internet (we all know #1 is Google) is YouTube.
They get more searches than Bing, Yahoo!, AOL, and Ask.com combined, totaling about 3 billion per month.
Plus, it being owned by Google, the videos there are going to see a little favor.
If you’ve ever noticed, relevant videos show closer to the top of a search engine results page.
At this point you ought to understand how badly you need to include video in your content strategy.
If you add video that has some personality, you’re going to see that traffic spend more time on the site, and eventually convert.
That brings you that much closer to earning a new client.
Leads From Search Close Way More Often
How would you like your job to be significantly less difficult?
Specifically, in the category of closing sales.
That would be magnificent, wouldn’t it?
There’s a better way to make sure your leads are going to close than any other marketing you could be doing.
You guessed it. Make content.
But hold on, because I don’t think it’s the same reason you think it is.
I mean, content certainly helps nurture leads towards a close.
But it’s the SEO it provides that really gets the job done.
Leads that come as a result of SEO have a 14.6% close rate. That’s kind of a big function of inbound.
Outbound marketing, on the other hand, have about a 1.7% close rate.
That’s a big difference.
That’s why it’s really important to focus on making sure your content is totally optimized for search.
That’s the only way you’re going to catch the people who are out looking for you.How is the internet going to find you if Google doesn't serve up your website? Click To Tweet
By the way, that’s why they close more often when they come from inbound marketing.
Inbound looks to catch the attention of people searching for you, while outbound goes out to find leads who might be interested.
Inbound takes a little longer to start working, but the results are disproportionately bigger.
Search optimization is a big reason for that.
But SEO can be very confusing. After all, there’s a lot of BS out there.
You can’t afford to be fooled by it, because there’s no way you’re going to survive being penalized by Google.
You need to know the secrets to effective SEO.
If you have to, you’re going to need to shift some of your outbound resources over to make sure you get found.
Local Search Comes From Mobile And Results In A Purchase
We’re all aware that Google made mobile optimization mandatory, right?
Ok, that’s not exactly it.
Back in 2015, Google decided that mobile optimization was going to be required for SEO, at least on mobile searches.
This call was made because people are using mobile to find things on the internet.
Back then, it was a high percentage already, running about 50% of searches.
Now, it makes up 60%, and nearly 100% of “nearby” searches are mobile, according to a report from Hitwise (which you’ll have to register to download).
All that being said, I shouldn’t have to tell you that you need to be ready for mobile customers, right?
But here I am, saying it anyway.
That’s because I still run into business owners who think their sites don’t need to be mobile ready.
Especially considering that three-quarters of the time the local search will lead to an in-store visit within 24 hours.
And two-thirds result in a purchase.
You need to be ready for mobile, local searches too.
And, before you say your customers aren’t using their phone to find you, you might want to look up from your phone and watch the people around you.Everyone is using their phone for search because it's always with them. Easier and faster always wins. Click To Tweet
Mobile devices are used for search more often than computers nowadays.
Sure, we might get on the laptop later to do some follow-up research.
But we use our devices to make the initial search while the idea is still fresh in our minds.
That means your site can’t just be structured to fit on a mobile screen anymore.
You need to optimize it for speed, user experience, and most importantly, usability.
I mean, how quick do you drop a site that doesn’t work on your phone?
It will kill your chances.
Shift To Inbound Strategies To Grow Your Goals
Obviously, you went into business to hit certain goals.
By switching to an inbound marketing strategy, you can grow towards those goals and begin to see bigger ones.
You’ll start to build brand awareness, fuel SEO, create more social awareness, earn more backlinks, and drive more traffic for your site.
That traffic will be more targeted, and the leads you earn from it will be far more qualified.
That’s going to mean more clients choosing you.