You’ve been advertising your product on radio, TV, and posters. Your sales team has been scouring LinkedIn and making cold-calls in an attempt to get some leads. Yet, the sales records don’t reflect your efforts.
What could you be doing wrong?
Everything, to be honest!
Today’s marketers need to understand that outbound marketing methods such as radio and TV advertising are no longer effective. People want to discover your products and services on their own without being bombarded with intrusive adverts. They want you to educate them about your service/product before they buy.
Inbound marketing allows you to do just that.
But what is inbound marketing?
How is it any different from traditional marketing methods?
More importantly, what do you need to do to build a successful inbound marketing campaign?
Here’s everything you need to know.
Inbound Marketing in SEO
Have you ever read a helpful guide or article about a product or service you’re interested in from a website?
Did you receive a free reward for signing up for an email list through that website?
Later on, did you come across ads from the same company on social media?
If your answer to the above questions is yes, chances are you weren’t too opposed to clicking on the ad because you were already familiar with the brand. At some point, you might find yourself purchasing a product from that brand.
That’s inbound marketing in action.
The strategy seeks to attract consumers to your website through content that addresses their pain points. It utilizes various forms of pull marketing—blogs, events, content marketing, social media, SEO and more—to increase brand awareness and nurture new leads.
Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing
While outbound marketing tactics focus on finding customers, inbound makes it easier for customers to find you when they need your services or products. Instead of spending hefty sums on advertisements that blast your brand message to people who might not even be interested in your products, inbound marketing allows you to advertise only to people who’ve expressed interest in what you’re selling.
But why is outbound marketing no longer effective?
Here are a few stats to explain:
- 90% of consumers aren’t sure whether or not to buy from a particular brand. They base their decision on the kind of brand information they find online.
- Content marketing is three times more effective in lead generation than paid search advertising.
- 96% of consumers prefer content created with input from industry thought leaders.
- 47% of consumers view three to five pieces of content before they engage with a sales rep.
One key takeaway from these stats is that inbound marketing is the future of digital marketing. This can be attributed to the fact that today’s consumers are more empowered. The internet provides them with virtually limitless choices. Meanwhile, stronger filters help them prevent brands from trying to force their message on them through intrusive ads.
Rather than making buying decisions based on advertisements, they search for what they want on the internet, when they want. Modern consumers value reputation, which is why brand and product reviews are so popular. They also want to be entertained with stories about your brand and educated with insightful content so they can make informed buying decisions.
How to Launch an Inbound Marketing Campaign
It’s clear that inbound marketing is more effective than traditional methods. What’s not so clear, however, is how to create and launch a winning inbound marketing strategy. It’s a long process with lots of moving parts.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you:
1. Define Your Objectives
What do you wish to achieve with your inbound marketing plan?
The answer to this question represents your objective and should guide all your marketing efforts.
Your objectives should include growing your audience, especially when you’re starting up. You need to create brand awareness before you even think of website conversions and lead nurturing.
Once you’ve established an online presence, you can narrow down on your objectives and define some of the key metrics you’ll be tracking.
And since metric tracking requires measurement, you’ll want your objectives to be quantifiable. Some of the most measurable metrics include; blog subscribers, website traffic, subscribers to your YouTube channels, social media followers, and the number of people filling your lead forms.
Ideally, you’ll want all your metrics to grow with every campaign.
2. Clearly Define Your Buyer Personas
Creating buyer personas lays a strong foundation for your inbound marketing campaign. It helps you understand the type of audience you’re marketing to, how they communicate, and what makes them tick. Such information enables you to craft brand messages that truly resonate with your customers.
In case you’re new to the concept, buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal clients. Your target market might consist of different types of buyers. You need to know each type’s characteristics and buying behavior to effectively target them.
For instance, you may notice that your products and services are purchased by a diverse client base that includes different age groups. Buyers in each of these segments have different preferences, priorities, and goals. It’s up to you to understand the characteristics and traits of each segment so you can create marketing messages that resonate with each group.
At the bare minimum, your buyer profiles should include the following elements:
- Stage in the buyer’s journey
- Biggest pain points and challenges
- How you can address those pain points and challenges
- Current attitudes towards your brand and products
- Common objections
Of course, you can add to more elements to your buyer personas depending on the consumer pool you’re dealing with. The more detailed your buyer personas, the better.
3. Identify your Marketing Triggers
With a clear idea of your ideal customer’s characteristics and buying behaviors, the next step in developing an inbound marketing strategy is to identify your market triggers. Basically, marketing triggers are the pain points and events that cause your customers to begin researching about your products or services.
Trigger-based marketing is the core of inbound marketing. Instead of arbitrarily pushing out advertising messages to a large pool of prospective customers, it meets them at their point of need through a reactive, targeted approach.
For instance, consider a company that specializes in selling office furniture. The most frequent shoppers of office furniture are companies experiencing rapid growth, renovating their offices, going through geographic expansion, or simply looking to update their office interior décor to keep up with new trends.
Any company that’s going through any of those events will begin their buying journey by conducting an online search. For the trigger-based marketer, this is would be the perfect point in the buyer’s journey to provide a top-of-funnel offer to the prospective client. The offer should resonate with the client’s specific needs and tell them how the marketer’s product can be of value to them.
4. Develop a Content Marketing Strategy
Creating a content marketing plan is one of the most important parts of inbound marketing. It provides a framework for the type of content you’ll be publishing on your content marketing blog, the formats you’ll use, and the frequency of publishing and promoting campaigns.
Your content marketing strategy should be built around the information needs of your audience. This means that you should have your audience personas in mind when creating a plan of action. And since you’ll want your audience to find you, you should never overlook the value of SEO. You need to optimize your whole website, as well as keywords.
To optimize your keywords, you’ll need to conduct keyword research. There are several inbound marketing tools you can use for this purpose. Some of the free options include Google Keyword Planner, Wordstream, and AdWord & SEO Keyword Permutation Generator.
Performing keyword research will help you identify and enlist the most sought-after queries. It’ll also help you rank higher on search engines so your target audience can find you when they enter their queries.
In addition to website and keyword optimization, your content strategy should include an editorial outline and content calendar. These will show your content creation team when to publish, and what type of content they need to publish at a particular period.
Lastly, your content strategy should prioritize crafting story-driven and educational content. This will allow you to achieve two important elements of content marketing— educating and entertaining.
5. Choose an Inbound Marketing Platform
While most of the work of creating an inbound marketing plan is centered on content creation and strategy formulation, the infrastructure that facilitates its implementation should never be overlooked.
When choosing an inbound marketing platform, you’ll want to prioritize options that offer a one-stop solution for multiple marketing needs.
The Hubspot inbound marketing platform is a perfect example of such options. It integrates social media monitoring, email marketing, blogging, analytics, and marketing automation in one tool. It also has an option that helps digital marketers create optimized landing pages, as well as a content management system that helps you optimize all your content. Additionally, there’s a free inbound marketing certification course that helps online entrepreneurs keep up with industry trends.
6. Create a Lead Nurturing Process
With everything in place, it’s time to lay down a roadmap to help you convert leads into sales.
When doing this, keep in mind that some leads may make a purchase faster than others. There are several explanations for this, but the leading cause of stalling is the lack of enough information. If your leads have unanswered questions, chances are they’ll stall their movement down the marketing funnel.
One way to solve this problem is through email automation, which you can achieve by choosing a good marketing platform. Automated emails remind your leads that you still have valuable content to offer. This encourages them to engage with your latest content, which moves them further down the inbound funnel.
To make email automation work for you, you’ll need to ensure that the emails your top-of-the-funnel leads receive address questions that are frequently asked during the sales process. This proactive approach will ensure that your leads are better informed and open to the idea of seeking more information about your products or services.
As your leads reach the middle of the marketing funnel, begin positioning your service or product by offering brand-specific information. This should include several emails addressing common concerns and questions about your brand.
When the lead acts on a bottom-of-the-funnel offer, it indicates that they’re sales qualified. At this point, you’ll want to hand them over to the sales team so they can be contacted and converted into buying customers.
Grow Your Business with Inbound Marketing
Considering the immense investment required, switching from outbound to inbound marketing might seem like a leap of faith, but the benefits are worth it. The sooner you can implement this inbound marketing plan, the sooner you’ll be enjoying its rewards—more leads and website conversions, all generated by a fully scalable strategy.
For more tips on how to grow your business through digital marketing, check out our strategy and planning page.
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