I’ve seen many definitions of inbound marketing before, but here’s the one I like best: Inbound marketing is marketing that customers don’t hate.
When prospects find you (inbound) as opposed to being targeted by you (outbound), they’re far more likely to be receptive to making a connection with your brand. They’re curious, willing to learn, and already pre-qualified as leads. After all, they came looking for you.
An inbound marketing strategy is vital because there’s a lot of noise to get through if you’re going to attract prospects’ attention in the first place. It is too easy to waste your time and efforts on campaigns that disappear into the void, never to be seen again.
Following are eight tips for a better inbound strategy that can help you avoid rookie mistakes and build a campaign that hits with your very first efforts.
At the core of an inbound marketing strategy is an ability to provide customers with the information and resources they want and need at the right time.
Nobody knows this information better than your sales team, who regularly field questions and concerns from customers and prospects. Collect feedback
about the most common questions asked, and when in the buying cycle they’re asked.
Once you’ve gathered the feedback, plot it out visually to help you craft a strategy to get the information customers and prospects want in front of them
before they even realize they need it. An accurate “buyer’s timeline” will be useful to you for years to come for both sales and marketing.
Too many companies try to be all things to all people, and in the process they manage to miss their targets with wasted effort. Instead, build profiles for your
ideal prospects and customers, and build your inbound campaign around those personas.
Armed with your buyer persona, you can map their typical daily digital journeys. Talk to some existing customers for clues to their preferred digital media
and environments and build an active presence for your brand in those places.
Fresh content is critical for an inbound campaign. While your content will take many forms, informative and entertaining blog posts should be at the
You can write this blog content in-house, but for many businesses it makes more sense to hire a professional writer for the work; far too many SMBs have
tried to write regular content themselves only to find that their effort trails off after a few months and leads to an abandoned blog that becomes a marketing
Look for a freelancer who can write regularly for your blog and bring content consistency, or consider a content marketing firm such as EdChief or Contently
that can deliver content on time and with the polish that will help you get the most out of your blogging effort.
Keep in mind that blog posts shouldn’t be a hard sell. You’re trying to attract readers, so include news and observations about your industry, relevant
scientific research or even observations on a trade event. Use marketing automation analytics to keep track of what content gets the most attention so you
know where to focus efforts in the future.
While it’s tempting to focus your content creation efforts on prospects standing at the edge of making a purchase, remember that the goal of inbound
marketing is to engage people at every stage of the customer lifecycle. Vary your content by stage in the sales pipeline: informative, industry-specific
tutorials to generate interest with people new to your company or industry, all the way to rewards and perks for your most loyal customers.
It can’t be stressed enough that content needs to be high quality. The point is to attract buyers to your biz, so rewriting your company’s 14-year-old mission
statement in a blog post isn’t going to get you very far. You’re looking for unique, creative and engaging ways to interact with customers.
Also, ensure the landing page of the content “matches” the lure that led the customer there (social media post, for example) so link-clickers know they’re
in the right place. Dumping interested web surfers onto your homepage is like inviting someone over for supper and serving crackers.
While written materials will make up a majority of your content, remember that people are visual, and you’re hoping to snag prospects’ attention in the short
few seconds you have with their eyeballs. Use photos, infographics, cartoons, animations or video. If you don’t have a designer on staff, engage a
freelancer or use a service such as Canva. With Agile CRM, you can even create your own video emails in an easy, automated way.
“Creating remarkable visual content is a great way to cut through content clutter and stand out from the pack,” wrote Murray Newland for Entrepreneur.
“When it comes to content, a photo (or video) really is worth 1,000 words.”
The goal of inbound marketing is to generate leads, of course, and you don’t want to spend so much time creating content you forget to manage your leads,
something a robust marketing automation solution can do for you. Sixty-seven percent of marketers say they see at least a 10 percent increase in sales
opportunities through lead nurturing, with 15 percent seeing opportunities increase by 30 percent or more, according to Demand Gen’s 2014 Lead
Nurturing Benchmarking Study.
Agile CRM makes it easy to develop lead nurturing best practices, including automating email responses to trigger events (and templates to develop those
emails), lead scoring to help you prioritize, and real-time notification of events. Integration with social media such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook
brings prospect activity in those channels to your desktop.
Today, about 93 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine. So if it’s your goal to ensure that customers and prospects can find your content,
you first need to make sure that search engines can find it. This may require a redesign of your web site’s landing pages (it’s not as much of a hassle as
it sounds with good templates) and some tweaking of your content so it’s more attractive to a search engine.
It’s also worthwhile to examine the keywords you’re currently focusing on and see if you can do better. You may be able to find a good niche that you can
stand out in. Google’s Keyword Planner can help you figure it out.
It’s great that you’re sold on the idea of inbound, but don’t neglect your outbound marketing. Often the ideal inbound marketing campaign is blended with
outbound. Once you’ve got great content in place, link to it in your outbound efforts and make it part of your sales enablement materials.
Paid social promotion is a prospect worth considering, and it’s one of the best ways to use your newly created inbound content. Facebook or LinkedIn
promoted posts and promoted Tweets can help get your message out to a bigger audience and give organic net-promoter activity the nudge that it needs to
Launching an inbound campaign may seem like a scary prospect, but some creative brainstorming sessions can help get your efforts moving. Collect
feedback from everyone in the company and make an effort to get out of your standard marketing echo-chamber. Talk to some customers and look for some
examples of great inbound marketing campaigns online.
Ultimately, use your own experiences as we’re all digital customers today. Always ask yourself, what makes you click link v/s the other.