The central question about inbound marketing isn’t about whether you’re doing it. Just by virtue of having a website, you’re inherently soliciting some amount of inbound marketing. The crucial question about inbound marketing is how to maximize its potential.
One of the great things about inbound marketing is that it’s a perfect marketing strategy for companies of every size and in every stage of development. Unlike outbound marketing, where you’re creating ads and trying to capture your audience’s attention, inbound marketing is a strategy that identifies customers who are noodling around the internet in search of what your company offers and highlighting a visible path right to the doorstep of your website. The idea behind inbound marketing is to draw your prospects into your brand experience by creating content that they just don’t want to miss.
By implementing a few new tools and watching your analytics carefully, you’ll learn quickly how to generate qualified leads and convert them to customers, which is the goal of successful inbound marketing.
A successful inbound marketing strategy requires narrowing your target customer profile.
I’m sometimes surprised about how little marketers know about their target customers. I advise marketers to narrow down the demographics of their target customer as closely as possible. Ask yourself the following:
• Are they primarily male or female?
• What age bracket do they fall into?
• What is the average income level of your customer?
• What are their general occupations?
• Is your target customer likely to be married or single?
• Are they a homeowner or more likely to rent?
• How do they spend their leisure time?
• What specific problem can you solve for them?
Keep brainstorming and ask as many questions about your customer as possible. By narrowly defining your target customer, it will be easier to develop content that will draw them to you organically.
Be aware of your buyers and how they search.
Not too long ago, I’d get frustrated if I went to a store and couldn’t find a salesperson to help me quickly. Today, I know that I can get what I need online, without anyone’s help. There are times when I need the assistance of a knowledgeable salesperson. For most purchases, I prefer to do my own research without the influence of a salesperson who’s looking to make a commission based on my purchase.
I find that online buyers shop in much the same way as brick-and-mortar retail shoppers. And there are four stages in every buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, decision, experience.
Use your target customer’s profile as a basis to create various inbound marketing strategies that will keep them tuned in at every stage of the buying experience. Inbound marketing gives your customers the right content at the right time to take them to the next step in the sales funnel.
Awareness: Create content for the awareness stage that outlines the problem in a straightforward way and leads customers to additional content that offers intriguing solutions. Tip sheets, blogs, overviews and other short, factual content drive this stage.
Consideration: This stage calls for explanatory pieces that line up sensical solutions, such as e-books, whitepapers and informative videos.
Decision: Focus on value when customers enter the decision stage. This is the time to present case studies, offer free assessments, highlight features and show your product or service in the best possible light.
Experience: Deliver content in the final stage that helps customers have a good experience with your product or service. I find that this is a good place to post how-to formatted articles, briefs and guides.
A great inbound marketing strategy answers the clients’ questions in every stage.
Consider using various elements of inbound marketing.
In creating content, think about the types of inbound marketing that will generate qualified leads which you can convert into customers. Successful inbound marketing requires you to manage your data well, accurately analyze your return on investment and implement the best tools.
Here are some elements of inbound marketing to get you thinking of how to create conversions:
• Media and public relations
• Building an online community
• Utilizing influencers
• Thought leadership
• Public speaking
• Social media
• Video content
• Word of mouth
Inbound marketing can get Google’s attention, too.
Time and again, Google calls for quality content, but what does that really mean? Quality content is not just what you know about a topic, but how well you write about it. For example, if you’re selling plant seeds, you can certainly write about topics for beginning gardeners. But think beyond the basic soil, sun and water topics to other things gardeners want to know, such as:
• How do I start container gardening?
• Tips on preventing garden pests.
• Which plants require little watering?
• Which plants attract butterflies?
• Which plants are safe around pets?
• Which plants are edible?
• Which plants are easy to grow in certain climates?
• What are the gardening tools every gardener should own?
Quality content means that you’re sharing your expertise on not only the plant seeds that your company sells but on all things gardening and plants. When you blog, produce videos or present other such content on a regular basis, your audience can begin to trust you as an expert in your field. Google recognizes that visitors are flocking to your site on a regular basis because they can’t wait to get the next valuable nugget of information, and this boosts your site ranking.
In my opinion, inbound marketing should be an essential component of every marketing plan. According to HubSpot’s 2018 “State of Inbound” report, which surveyed more than 6,200 respondents from a mix of industries, 55% of marketers consider creating quality content as one of their top inbound marketing priorities. To improve your inbound marketing strategy, narrow your target customer even more, add a few more outlets for content and demonstrate that you’re an industry expert in every aspect of your product or service.
Feature Image Credit: Getty
Karina Tama-Rutigliano is a Digital Marketing Strategist. She shares her skills in karinatama.com. She works at Thomas in NYC.