Inbound marketing is a technique that is designed to attract potential customers. Your potential customers are looking for you on the internet — through search engines, social media, discussion forums, and a host of other channels. How are you going to grab their attention? It all depends on how well you utilize inbound marketing strategies like search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing and other techniques that are designed to draw people in.
At the heart of inbound marketing is the idea that you provide your customers with the solution they need to address specific problems. According to a HubSpot study, 92.7% of businesses increase their leads by using inbound marketing strategies. That’s quite a number!
For those of you who are unsure where the concept “inbound marketing” came from, it was coined by Brian Halligan, the co-founder and CEO of HubSpot.
So, who can provide a better model of inbound marketing than HubSpot? Here’s how they define the inbound marketing process (in four major steps):
First, you attract customers by creating compelling content to invite them to your website. In the next stage, you turn visitors into leads and those leads, by the end of the process, become your customer. These customers trust you enough to promote your brand in their circle which, in turn, leads to more potential customers — and the cycle goes on.
Inbound marketing strategies involve advertising that does not follow the conventional methods of creating newspaper ads, brochures, pamphlets, billboards, etc. It revolves around the cost-effective and time-saving methods of email marketing, social media marketing, content marketing, and many more.
So, before you move on and start experimenting with inbound marketing strategies, you should have some first-hand knowledge of the tactics used in inbound marketing.
Set Specific Inbound Marketing Goals
This may seem like an obvious approach but it’s missed quite often by quite a number of people. Goals are the driving fuel that assists you in developing strategies for your users. Be very specific about them, write them down, and quantify them in ways that make sense — such as number of leads, amount of organic page views, number of downloads, click-to-open rate, and so on.
Your goals should be according to the size of your business. If you’re a startup or a small organization, beginning with developing SMART inbound goals should make all the more sense.
Once you’ve established your goals, don’t shy away from reviewing, revising, and building upon them. Set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound) goals and then follow the steps covered below.
Create Personas to Know Your Audience
Before you can attract or convert your visitors, you need to know about them. And to learn about your audience, you can create targeted personas. Personas are personalized characterizations of your target audience, complete with likes/dislikes and actions.
In order to create the best relevant persona, you’ll need to get your hands on all the customer data available out there. It may be social insights, analytics, or direct customer feedback (gathered from surveys or questionnaires).
Optimize Content With Target Keywords
Keyword research is essential for a strong SEO as it helps bring relevant people to your website. Uncover and utilize the search terms or queries you’ve learned from the personas and optimize your website accordingly. This will have a positive impact on the marketing strategy you use.
To know the topics your customers are searching for is essential but to know exactly what they are searching for (or what their search intent is) is critical for effective keyword optimization. For the process to run smoothly, you need to speak the same language as your target audience or you could run the risk of losing a potential lead.
Following these steps will guide you toward building a stronger inbound marketing strategy as you’ll have a better understanding of who your customers are and how you may effectively communicate with them.
Now, what is it you should do to attract leads? While there are no set-in-stone techniques, you may begin the process with the following.
Write Quality Blog Posts
Create non-salesy and informative content for your website that will provide value to your audience. When your target audience visits your website and finds your blogs, they should become convinced that you know what you are talking about. That is the goal of the blog posts for inbound marketing.
The content or types of blogs for effective inbound strategy can be either short-form articles, detailed long-form articles or guest blog posts on websites that are relevant to your niche. Adapting guest blogging can lead you to reach new users and the backlinks you’ll generate can help you improve your SEO.
Infographic is an image, chart, or graph that gives an easy and simple overview of a certain topic. Including infographics in your content can give an informative summary, making it digestible for users. Creating a well-crafted infographic can also increase the chances of it being shared across other platforms. Users tend to share infographics more than any other type of content which naturally leads to an increased flow of traffic.
PPC Search Ads
PPC (pay-per-click) search ads let you meet your audience where they search. If used correctly, PPC ads can help with inbound leads to a great extent. When users search for something, you can easily appear at the top to address their queries with paid ads.
Keep in mind that your ads should not be focused solely on sales. Ultimately, the user is interested in information and if your ad can’t provide that, chances are that you’re not going to get them to click on it. Try to keep it value-oriented and ensure that your ad copy relates to what the users are interested to find.
Use Remarketing Ads
Remarketing ads are a way to remind your target audience about your products, services, or business. They are used when a potential user leaves your site without taking any action like signing up for updates or buying any products.
These ads can remind users of the products/services you provide or any additional information that might be useful for them (and that they can find on your website).
Enhance Your Landing Page
Your landing page experience is one of the key factors in inbound marketing. It’ll also determine whether or not you’re able to get the most out of the traffic your site attracts. Blogs, videos, graphics, ads, etc. can all be included in a landing page to make it diverse, informative, visually appealing, and relevant. Optimize it in a way it relates to your audience’s needs and naturally leads them through the sales funnel.
Make sure that your landing page is effective by staying relevant to the topic and on point. Always add a call-to-action on this page — features like subscribing, downloading a PDF, or linking to other useful content. Your leads are here for a solution, so avoid clutter and don’t overlink, oversell, and overdo. Take the soft-sell approach and build your relationship with users
Engage Users with Opt-Ins
Opt-ins are the way to encourage sign-ups to your email list. If a user is attracted to your content or interested in finding more about your company, opt-ins are the way for them to reach back to you.
Don’t go overboard in asking for information at the beginning. This is just a preliminary phase and, as such, you shouldn’t make it look like a survey or questionnaire.
Once your potential leads have opted in, it is now up to the emails they’ll receive to make their signups worthwhile. Inbound marketers have an opportunity to provide these users with useful content that is specifically optimized for their needs and that encourages a meaningful action on the user’s end.
This may be an email sequence where you send three, five, or ten emails, each after a gap of a few days. The number of emails depends on your sales cycle as well as the nature of your business and products/services. According to a report by Annuitas Group, using email marketing for inbound strategy can increase leads by 451%.
All of these platforms come with a variety of automation options to trigger actions and customize workflows for your business.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is an approach to build brand awareness, showcase valuable content to a large audience, and convert leads. With inbound marketing, your strategy depends on attracting and converting users. To that end, social media platforms are the best option to consider. According to Adobe, social media platforms are the most effective marketing channel for 42% of Millennials and 50% of Gen Z.
The most prominent social media platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn and it’s a good idea to stay laser-focused on them. Post informative content on these platforms often and link blog posts, infographics, videos and other forms of content that relate to your business. If you don’t already have an account on these platforms, you are seriously behind the eight ball.
Other social media platforms you can use to your advantage in inbound marketing are Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr and Quora. These platforms are the best way to engage with your users and talk about your products, services, or brands.
Keeping in mind the process of inbound strategy, when you convert your leads and close those deals, you enter the “delight phase”. The delight phase in inbound marketing is all about building relationships with your clients.
When you come this far, it’s time you worked on transforming your client into your brand ambassadors.
What we discussed in this post is a basic rundown on how to effectively implement inbound marketing strategies for your business. Is inbound marketing as simple as it sounds? Hell no! Will it be useful? Indeed. Like any other marketing strategy, it all comes down to your ability to understand and implement the process.
Take your time to research and listen to your customer’s needs, pain points, and expectations carefully. If executed well, the inbound marketing strategy will help you start building trustworthy relationships with the customers you value.