by James Anderson | 31 Aug 2017
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound Marketing, or Content Marketing as it is also known, contrasts with traditional marketing methods in that it is focused on earning an audience instead of interrupting them.
This is done by creating content which is of value to your audience, which entices them to your product/service. Content produced in this way is not advertorial, but instead gives the audience something useful for free – this could be information, advice, resources, captivating content, or most effectively, a combination of these factors. Inbound Marketing is about getting customers and prospective customers to return to your content time and time again because they genuinely value it. An important point here is that, as opposed to traditional interruption based marketing, this is likely to begin your relationship with your audience in a much more positive way, which immediately increases your chances of converting them into customers.
Hubspot describes effective Inbound Marketing as four steps: Attract, Convert, Close and Delight.
It’s important you create content which is compelling and useful to your target audience – it’s not helpful having huge volumes of traffic to your
website if the visitors are unlikely to want or need your product/service. So before you start creating content, make sure you know exactly who you want to be attracting.
One of the most effective ways of Inbound Marketing is to maintain a blog for your website. You can use this as a platform for most of your compelling content. This has the great advantage of getting people looking at your website and consuming content which they find useful or enjoy – but preferably both!
Having great content is the first step to attracting visitors, but they also need to be able to find you! Making sure your SEO is well handled is an crucial part of this, as it is easy to get lost in the crowd in the online world. In the same vein, it’s important to make sure your user experience is good onsite – your website needs to look great and be intuitive to use, otherwise visitors may be put-off.
Drawing people to your website is the first step, but what next?
In order to take the next step, you will need to get some information from your audience. Often, this is simply acquiring their email address, but it is certainly not limited to that – it just depends on what you’re selling and what you think is the most effective way to generate leads for your business. There are a number of ways to do this, but one of the best ways is to give your visitors something for free in exchange for their details. This could be in the form of a newsletter, a once-off informational resource, a useful tool or even a demo of your product/service if applicable. This can and should be optimised by ensuring you have clear calls-to-action and/or relevant landing pages (which would also include clear calls-to-action).
Once you’ve got leads flowing in, make sure you keep all their details in a database for your use. It’s important that these are all kept on record so that you can chase up leads as necessary.
Once you’re generating leads, how do you convert them into customers? There are many answers to that question, but utilising marketing tools like CRM systems, email marketing and automation are some of the big ones. It’s critical that you use and respond to the analytics embedded in many of these tools in order to better target your audience. This allows you to see what people respond well to, and what they don’t. In this way you can adjust your approach in order to optimise your contact with the customer as you funnel them towards being a paying customer.
The best way to create and maintain customers is to impress them! This starts with creating excellent, relevant content, but it doesn’t stop there. In order to continue gaining new customers and maintain the ones you have, you need to constantly be looking for ways to improve their experience.
Even simply asking customers for feedback on their experience in a thoughtful way is an effective way of delighting your audience. Effectively monitoring and responding to customers on social media in a timely and approachable way is also a relatively easy way of keeping your customers impressed. Other methods include using tools to create experiences tailored to specific customer groups in order to give them the best, most personally relevant experiences possible. Remember, if you really impress your customers, they are likely to become promoters for your business and that is truly invaluable!
If you follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to effectively using Inbound Marketing to grow your business and cultivate positive, productive relationships with your audience.
James Anderson – Digital Marketer and former student at NZIE