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September 26, 2017

Understanding Inbound Marketing

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Inbound Marketing is one of the most powerful forms of digital content marketing.

It’s the key pillar that when used correctly will reduce your advertising expense to a bare minimum.

With inbound marketing, you attract more qualified leads, more business, more clients and gain more exposure than any other form of marketing.

The usual strategy most companies use is to put aside a multi-million dollar budget for use in radio and TV advertising.

There are two problems with that.

First, radio advertising is at best throwing money to the wind and hoping it pays off.
Second, in the case of TV it’s also a 50:50 preposition. You have to book the right spot at the right time in the middle of the right program when most of your target audience are tuned in.

The challenge is, in this day of cable TV and TV-On-Demand, you’re not even sure if they are tuned to the channel in the first place.

Inbound marketing is different. You only attract qualified buyers to your doorstep. They find you. You don’t find them.

How do you do this? Let’s answer that question by defining what inbound marketing is in the first place.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound Marketing is the process of attracting the attention of prospects, via content creation, before they are even ready to buy.

It’s one of the best and most cost-effective ways to convert strangers into customers and promoters of your business.

Dozens of people browse the internet every day searching for information. That information may or may not be necessary to them.

However, the one thing you are absolutely sure of is in every case, they are sourcing information about something that satisfies a query.

Where Does Inbound Marketing Come In?

Like we mentioned, everyone on the internet is searching for something that fulfill a certain need at that time.

In every one of these cases, they probably use a search engine to lead them to their potential prospect.

Or they could use a marketplace. An online marketplace is a platform that brings together creators and curators of products, services and solutions.

Amazon is an example of a marketplace. It can also serve as a search engine as it houses everything under one roof.

Returning to Google, a web browser would type in a key phrase and that phrase shoots up some listings on the first page of Google. Scouring though these leads, they then click on the best listing.

This whole process I’ve described is part of inbound marketing.

With inbound marketing, you concentrate on creating the right kind of content that your prospective client is searching for and use that to draw them into your sales funnel on your website.

Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be.

Therefore, your best efforts are to develop an Inbound marketing strategy that brings visitors to your online doorstep, rather than marketers having to go out to get prospects’ attention or you spending exorbitant amounts of cash on traditional radio and TV advertising.

For inbound marketing to work, it’s essential that you prioritize the buyer’s needs before your own.

Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found, and draws customers to the website by producing interesting content.

Let’s show you how to do that.

Step 1: Define Your Strategy

We first take time to understand your brand, who you are, what you do, what you want to achieve.

We then analyze your business context, goals, current marketing approach, and the critical behaviors that will be necessary for success.

This information lays the foundation for a detailed inbound marketing plan that is in line with your goals and budget.

The landscape of your business is something that you know well. You live it every day. You know your business, the value you provide to the market, who your target customers are and who you are competing against.

Clearly defining these aspects of your organization, will give us the necessary understanding to develop an impactful inbound marketing strategy capable of producing ROI.

Step 2: Get Your Inbound Marketing Tools Ready

To tell your brand story in the best way possible, you need the best website content possible that convinces and converts potential customers.

The most crucial inbound marketing tool at this point is your website. It serves as the foundation for all your inbound marketing efforts. There are a couple of questions to ask yourself:

Does my website convince anyone to do business with me?

Is it clear from the minute a customer lands on the website what they are supposed to do

Do they find the content they are looking for quickly?

Do they have a guide around the website leading them to the best answer for their query?

Is it attractive?

Is it mobile friendly?

Do you have clear prominent call to action banners and email opt in boxes

Do all your blog posts feature attractive bold headlines and engaging content?

Does my website have engaging pictures, images and data relevant to my buyer?

All these questions, and their answers, will determine how long a visitor stays on your page. If your site is up to speed on all these questions, then the next thing is to calculate our conversion offers.

Step 3: Design Your Conversion Offers

These include webinars, whitepapers, case studies, videos and blog posts.

This is where you ask yourself, “Do I have enough content?”

Because if you don’t, then your inbound marketing strategy will fail before it even begins.

Webinars, whitepapers, guides, videos and other conversion offers provide a value-based method to generate leads and provides a tool to provide value until prospects are ready to buy.

That means you need to develop a content funnel and feed your prospects valuable content until the minute they are ready to buy.

The content must be readily available on your site so your prospect has enough time to study all of it, and a reason to come back.

Get Your Email Marketing Funnels Up And Running

The first thing you do is design your email response funnel.

If you’re just starting out, you can use Mailchimp that offers free email marketing services upto 2000 subscribers. The service helps you send better emails, connect your e-commerce store, and sell more stuff.

MailChimp provides email marketing for more than 15 million people globally. It integrates with all the major e-commerce providers so you can use your purchase data to send better email and grow your business.

If you already have a substantial email database, you could opt for GetResponse, which in my opinion is the best automated email provider in the market. With GetResponse, you get everything from marketing automation, landing pages, email drip funnels and more for only $15 per month.

You will need to design a series of different email funnels because people are at different stages in the conversion journey. With a different set of content baits, you need to loop them in and usher them down your sales funnel.

Automated email is a great tool to meaningfully engage your growing database of potential customers and lay a path from interest to purchase.

Step 4: Creating The Best Content

Attracting prospective customers is the name of the game. If you can get the right people to view your offering, you’re already winning.

To attract targeted traffic, you will need to create engaging and relevant blog articles, videos, social media posts, and media placements.

This can be a daunting task.

In fact, according to the 2015 B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report,

  • 54% of B2B companies struggle with producing engaging content,
  • 50% struggle with producing content consistently and
  • 42% of B2B brands struggle with producing a variety of content.

Yes, it can be tough to consistently create good content, but it’s not impossible. It really boils down to one thing: good ideas.

When the creativity is flowing, it is easier to create a range of engaging content consistently. It takes a great deal of research and time to invest in this, so either you can hire a great content creation team or you can outsource your content creation efforts.

Outsourcing is definitely cheaper, because you only pay for the content you want. Once you have your ideas mapped out, you need to concentrate on your headline. Up to 78% of people will decide whether to read your article based on your headline. Check out these headlines:

  • Using Facebook Videos to Increase Conversions: 13 Examples from Top Fortune 100 Brands (And How You Can Do it Too!)
  • 13 Words that Enhance Trust in a Blog Post
  • Four Hacks for Writing an Article that Sounds Genius (And Actually Is)

I would click on any one of those headlines. They are compelling. They tell me exactly what to expect and what the topic is all about. Your headline is the most important part of your narrative. Get it right and 80% of your work is done.

What Kind Of Content Should You Spin Out?

There are obviously various types of content we produce and the impact of each type really depends on the nature of the brand we are working for.

For example, we regularly develop the following content forms for clients across all sectors.

  • List articles
  • Case Studies
  • Infograhics
  • Facebook videos
  • Contests and Promotions
  • Sponsorships
  • Long form blog posts
  • Magazine Articles

For B2C clients, we’ve found Facebook videos do really well with a conversion rate of over 74%.

For B2B clients, we’ve found that case studies have a conversion rate of 82%.

List articles are peoples’ favorite choice of content because it’s concise, straight-to-the-point and direct.

Once you have the content, you need to promote them in the places your target audience consumes information.

I’d suggest you focus on these three channels:

  • Hubspot
  • LinkedIn Pulse
  • Medium

For each of these channels you need to create an account and pick the most relevant category to place your content. Then write your content, and hit publish.

Step 5: Social Media Set Up

Having the best content makes social media promotion a breeze.

You have all the content you need to pump up your social media channels three months in advance.

You are constantly feeding your audiences a steady flow of case studies highlights, competitions, success stories, data, interesting social news highlights, special offers and incentives.

Social media is the perfect medium to position your organization as a thought leader by increasing the reach of your marketing messages.

To maximize your success, we will claim any necessary profiles, secure vanity URLs and design all profile graphics to match your online presence.

Step 5: Unifying The Sales And Marketing Process

At this point, your prospective customer is ready to convert. At this point you know:

  • Who they are
  • What they do
  • What content interest them the most
  • What they want from you
  • What their budget is
  • Whether they are a short term or long term prospect

This is where you unify your marketing and sales processes.

It’s important to define your sales process so that you don’t come across as too bullish neither do you keep them swimming around in your marketing funnel for too long.

For example, you would need to standardize your presentations, sales collateral, case studies, and other informational materials to immediately show your customer value.

One of the most important things I have learnt is that customers buy value, not price. Let all your product offerings showcase the value.

The value must override the amount of money you are asking for.

That will ensure that your team is presenting pitches uniformly and that they have all necessary resources to display your company’s value before, during and after a presentation.

An Inbound Marketing Dashboard

An inbound marketing dashboard comes in handy at this point.

At a glance you can tell what type of content pulled in the most customers and use that as a pivot to determine which direction to concentration your content creation efforts.

It also gives your tech team vital information to monitor and track performance of your websites.

At a glance, you can tell where and how your customers found you. You can track activity data from your dashboard, performance of email campaigns and other marketing activities.

This will provide insight that will allow them to more quickly move a buyer through the buying process. This will also allow us to see which sales close so that you can move on to the next project.

In our case, what we do is integrate tools that will give your sales team instant knowledge about prospective companies and contacts that they are interacting with.

Additionally, they will receive notification of prospect activities like website revisits, opened emails and clicked links so your team can strike while the iron is hot.

Step 6: Tracking Sales Performance

At this stage, we track sales performance and opportunities by keeping the team on top of inbound sales activities.

This calls for a seamless integration of phone and email communications with prospects so that marketing, sales and management can keep track of your pipeline and measure effectiveness in real-time.

In Summary

Inbound marketing is the top form of marketing in 2017.

It’s more powerful and more relevant that traditional forms of advertising.

89% of people refer to the internet to get information about prospective customers, latest news, insights and general information.

Your website needs to be one of the top 10 must-read channels in your niche.

In addition, you need to position various exciting and engaging content forms on content channels where your prospective audience hangs out.

That’s when inbound marketing really kicks in and pulls a steady stream of qualified prospects back to your site where you can lead them down your sales funnels.

Inbound marketing is definitely cheaper, accurate and allows detailed tracking of potential leads.

To get it working in your favor, you need a well optimized website, great call to action banners, a functional lead generation system and a well thought out offer.

The fuel for inbound marketing is a steady stream of good quality content in various forms, ranging from long form articles to videos, list articles, whitepaper, infographics and contests.

If you are able to create the content on your own, well and good. If not, the best option is to outsource it to a reputable company.

It’s definitely cheaper because you only pay for the content you need.

 

 

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