It is highly likely that you are familiar with or have perhaps unknowingly launched an inbound marketing campaign for your business. This not surprising given the ever increasing importance of this marketing strategy. So what is inbound marketing and how can I use it to help my business grow online, I hear you ask. In my article, I’m going to explain exactly that.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is a strategy involving a broad range of marketing mediums that aims to attract potential customers to your business. This is indirect contrast to some of the more established forms of marketing including email marketing and direct mail where you seek to find potential customers. From this perspective alone, it is an incredibly attractive marketing option as it tends to appeal to customers that already have an interest in your product/service. This often results in higher quality leads that are more likely to convert into sales.
The inbound marketing methodology boasts several respected advocates, including HubSpot, Marketing Land and Marketo. So why are more businesses not using it? In part, this is because a false air of complexity surrounds it. Fortunately, getting started is easier than may people think.
How To Get Started
1) Identify And Understand Your Ideal Customers
If you are going to invest time and money in attracting customers to your business, it is important that they are the right customers. This stage is critical to the eventual outcome of the inbound process. To identify your ideal customer, think about the best possible customer for business and prepare a profile of them. Think about what they might wear, what they look like, their level of income, things they like and things they dislike, problems they are likely to have and areas of interest that they may have. Once you have created a strong and fairly detailed profile, you will be in a great position to proceed to the next step. It is worth remembering that your ideal customer may change over time as your business grows, so it is good practice to regularly review your customer profile and update it accordingly.
2) Choose Your Inbound Marketing Channels
Your choice of inbound marketing channels will depend on your ideal customer profile. Choose channels that appeal to what they like, solve their problems and correlate to their areas of interest. Common inbound marketing channels include Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Blogging and Social Media. Generally, the most powerful results are achieved with a combination of these three channels, particularly as SEO and blogging efforts should be part of an integrated search strategy. To create a great search strategy start with some keyword research, look for keywords that relate to your product/service that have a reasonable search volume. I use the Google Keyword Planner to do this. Once you have identified between five and ten keywords, try to match the keywords to the areas of interest and problems identified within your customer profile. These matches should be a significant part of your SEO and inbound effort. They will also determine the content that you create during the next step.
3) Create Compelling Content
Creating compelling content is far from easy, but hopefully the previous two steps have helped you to ascertain some focus areas. Your content could take many forms, from a blog article or landing page to a live event or webinar. The important point here is that your content should be original and valuable. If you can provide something that is not available elsewhere you will have created truly compelling content. To help you create compelling content, I will share one of my own examples. I identified that attaining a good Google ranking was a problem for many of my ideal customers, so I decided to write a blog article to help my ideal customers with SEO called Spring SEO Tips. While there are a plethora of SEO articles around, I wanted to make my article fundamentally different. Instead of the usual and often unnecessarily complicated articles, I wrote an article that outlined concise and easy to understand tips that my customers could use to improve their SEO efforts. So, what compelling content will you create?
4) Collect Potential Customer Data
Collecting data from potential customers is absolutely critical. If you create compelling content without doing this you will not generate any leads for your business. There are many ways to collect this data: You could offer a free guide about a topic that your business is a specialist in or perhaps a sign up option for your blog. Either way, make sure that you collect enough data to make it valuable and useful for the next step. If you choose the former data collection method, take the opportunity to collect a significant amount of data. Generally, I recommend collecting at least the following: name, email and phone number. If you operate within a B2B environment, I would advise collecting additional information including the – company name, number of employees, turnover and business sector. Collecting this additional information will help you to qualify your prospects, so you can evaluate whether they are your ideal customer or not. In order to collect this data you might need to develop a landing page. In my case I developed a page where potential customers can request a free SEO report. If you would like some ideas about how to structure a landing page take a look at my example – Request A Free SEO Report.
5) Contact And Convert
If you have reached this final stage, congratulations! You have almost completed your first planned inbound marketing campaign. To conclude the process, you need to attempt to convert your contacts into cash (sales). You may be lucky enough to have already secured sales from your efforts; some potential customers will contact you after reviewing your compelling content. This tends to happen when they have a high level of buying intent or your content has acted as a particularly strong trust signal. If this has not happened, do not worry. You can use the data collected during the previous step to re-engage with your potential customers. I would recommend either sending a follow up email or giving them a call, perhaps you could ask them if they have any questions about your free guide. If at this stage you do not make a sale, try targeting them as part of your wider email marketing effort.
Hopefully you now have a good understanding of the inbound marketing process. You may also feel ready to go out and try this in your business. However, if this process seems daunting or if you do not have the time to execute this we can help. Simply schedule a free digital marketing consultation with us and we will help you start your journey to inbound marketing success.
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