What is Inbound Marketing? Well if you are already blogging then you are already doing inbound marketing. Congratulations, you are focusing on attracting the right customers by providing useful information and educating them. But are you doing it effectively and in-line with best practice inbound marketing tactics? It’s not about talking about your product/service all the time, you need to go deeper…
Inbound marketing (also called pull marketing) is: “A customer-centric process to attract customers into your business earning their attention via blogging and SEO to provide valuable, educational content to solve their problems” and “Content is the message your inbound strategy delivers.”
The Hubspot definition of Inbound Marketing is… “a holistic, data-driven approach to marketing that attracts individuals to your brand and converts them into lasting customers”
Why do Inbound you ask? Well marketing has been disrupted, previously or pre-internet era when you wanted to market your product/service finding and paying for Space was the issue (small/large ads). Now post-internet it’s our customers Attention we seek in the form of visitors to our sites.
But it’s harder to get to get attention, everyone is so busy and with so many different websites you really have to work to find out where they spend their time & what they are interested in.
Now if you are serious about reaching your target customer, you have to put in the work up front to find out their problems in order to educate them on how to make the best decision. The goal is that they will then turn to you as they trust your advice and education (but this may not 100% of the time).
With traditional marketing such as cold-calling, ads, SPAM people are not answering, blocking and unsubscribing respectively. So the key is not to not Broadcast but Attract.
Strangers > Visitors > Leads > Customers > Promoters
The marketing industry has always been Marketer focused and it’s taking time (& lost earnings) for that mindset to adjust. The customer today has plenty of options to block, switch off or ignore so you need to get behind that wall of criticism and connect with your customers before you have really loyal brand advocates that don’t think twice about recommending you.
Look at Apple, they communicate the benefits to the customer e.g.1,000 songs in your pocket. Whereas the closest competitor at the time kept talking in terms of GB or MB of space, which was the feature that the customer didn’t now know how (or want to) translate into the benefit for them.
Inbound best practice:
- Use Buyer personas
- Use the Buyers Journey
- Create remarkable content
- Leverage your content
1. Buyer personas
In order to understand what your customer needs, you need to do some research & create an ideal buyer persona. What is a buyer persona you ask, it’s a:
“Semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on real data and some select educated speculation about customer demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations, and goals.”
2. Buyers Journey (stages)
This buyer journey helps illustrate the different stage a customer goes through, showing how you need to alter you communication to adapt to each stage. They are looking for something different at each stage e.g they have a problem, that needs solving, then they decide what product or service to use.
Awareness > Consideration > Decision
So by looking at the buyer’s journey (image courtesy of Hubspot), you can start to get a better understanding of what type of content you should be producing at particular stages. In Awareness instead of just talking about your brand and what it can offer you need to talk about your industry and help the consumer solve the problem they have, you are putting it in their terms e.g. what’s in it for them.
3. Creating valuable content
When creating your content you need it to have:
- Purpose – falls under the stage of the buyers journey and which stage you need to target e.g. the awareness, consideration or decision stage.
- Format – this is what format your content will take, whether it’s an infographic, video, ebook or research reports, choosing the best format is all about your personas.
- Topic – You need to identify topics that matter to your customer, what are their goals or challenges, industry news or keywords you want to rank for. To do this you need to do keyword research, Buzzsumo is a great tool along with Google keyword planner.
It’s important to create and give valuable content, Gary Vaynerchuck talks about this in terms of Give, Give, Give then Ask. By providing value each time you give, when you go to ask your customer to buy they know you share valuable content tailored to them and they will convert (the reciprocity social principle is also coming into play here too).
The key to best practice in inbound marketing is to make sure your content is easily consumed & mapped it to your buyer persona and the stage they are in the buyers journey. Remember customers don’t want to be sold to they want to educated, so no promotional material.
4. Leverage your content
A lot of marketers do the right thing and create valuable content but then lose out by not spending enough time distributing it. As a rule of thumb, you should spend the same amount of time distributing your content as you do creating it.
Then this where most stop, but take time once a month/quarter and analyse your content see what was the most successful (site visits, social shares etc.) and then rinse and repeat (so to speak).
I hope you found this blog post informative about the-the differences between Inbound and Outbound Marketing & the best practices to help you improve. There are actionable steps to improve your content, but keeping your customer front and centre to your marketing strategy and you will have happy customers and a thriving business.
I used resources from Hubspot’s Inbound Certification in this blog post to give an overview Inbound Marketing. But if you would like a more in-depth view of Inbound Marketing I highly recommend the Hubspot Inbound Marketing Certification . I found it highly informative & useful.