Consumers are more time short than ever before and the continual bombardment of marketing messages – from the moment we wake until the time we go to bed, has created consumers that are overloaded with advertisements. In response consumers have developed an uncanny ability to be immune to the marketing placed before them – ‘snowblind’ is a word I’ve heard on a few occasions.
Consumers simply aren’t listening like they used to – and it seems that the challenge for businesses has never been tougher.
Adding further to the average SME’s woes is a marketing landscape that has been revolutionised by technology; the rise and rise of social media and the adaptation of SmartPhones are but two leading examples of the ways in which consumer communication has changed irrevocably.
For the thought leaders in business this has presented only opportunity, where marketing has transitioned to something a whole lot more personal.
However for the business that lags behind the times there has been only wasted budgets on mass marketing channels that are simply no longer effective, such as radio, TV and print. And even the savviest, most forward thinking of companies have struggled to engage upon social media. It seems for many, the challenge of crafting a business message that breaks through a feed of cat memes, Saturday night’s collection of duck pout photos and the latest internet crazes is nigh on impossible.
It’s time for a fresh approach – and handily enough, this is exactly where inbound marketing comes in.
Just what is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is often thought of as the ‘Holy Grail’ of marketing within what is now a truly digital world. In short, it’s a method that has taken a massive stride away from a one-sided, single minded message that simply shouts “Buy Me”, and transformed into a two-way discussion where brands add value to their consumers’ lives.
Inbound marketing consists of numerous tools that effectively work in harmony to move a cold lead through a sales funnel – from stranger to fully fledged and paid up customer.
Image via HubSpot
Getting to the good stuff: How inbound marketing skyrockets lead generation
Core to the inbound marketing ethos are five major themes, here’s a brief overview of each:
- Content creation and Distribution
Content creation is about creating the perfect balance between your target markets interests and the pain point that you solve for your customer. Let’s take a look at a few examples:
|Industry||Bad Content Idea||Effective Content Idea|
|Party Supplies||Sale on all Halloween outfits||Ten ideas for awesome Halloween outfits|
|Marketing||Introducing our new service||How inbound marketing boosts business|
|Web design||Why are websites are effective||Five web design flaws that are losing you customers|
The distribution element comes into play once the content is created (be it video, a blog or newsletter) and relates to the channels through which you’ll promote it.
Of courses the most obvious choice is social media for posts that may ultimately lead back to your website, and before you’re able to build an email list, this is primarily where you may want to focus your efforts. Yet you need first to:
- Find out where your target market are spending their time (this research from PewReseacrh should help you with that);
- Tailor a unique strategy that harnesses the typical behaviours of users on each of the networks you’re targeting – don’t merely adopt a blanket approach, tap into the features that individual social platforms provide.
Pro Tip #1: Ensure that you have Google Analytics installed on your website to provide analysis into where your traffic is coming from, and how effective your content creation has been.
Metrics such as average time spent on a page can help give you an idea of how interested your target market are in what you have to say.
- Lifecycle marketing
Lifecycle marketing is exactly that: a strategy defined by a cycle where various tools are used to move a consumer through the stages from cold lead to customer.
Your content should be built around the target market and their needs, wants and interests. As you build a steady stream of useful content you should begin to gain feedback to help you develop this – in the form of blog comments, social media comments and those handy Google Analytics metrics we talked about earlier.
We’ve already touched upon content creation and the role social media has to play, yet inbound marketing is very much defined by adopting a multi-thronged approach.
Ultimately you should be aiming to progress cold leads onwards, and steps such as landing pages which capture an email address in return for some piece of invaluable content (which is the exact reason you’re here, reading this) can be invaluable for progressing the relationship and opening up another channel for communication.
Creating the right content, at the right time and publishing it to the right places all serve to create the perfect equilibrium – this produces content that is both relevant to those you are targeting, as well as showing up at a time and place where it doesn’t interrupt your consumer in the way traditional marketing mediums used to.
Inbound marketing: Your 4 Week challenge
Setting up your Inbound Marketing campaign
Week 1: Set yourself up for success with the right strategy
- Work out what your strategy will involve
Key questions to ask include who your target market are and how their behaviours should shape the tools that you use and the content that you create (our blog article ‘Strategy: It’s not optional, it’s an essential’ can really help you in identifying your target market, defining your message and becoming remarkable when compared to the competition).
Tools such as landing pages, blogs, emails and educational videos will then form the tactics that draw upon this strategy and the research you’ve undertaken.
- Define your sales funnel
Work out what the steps are that need to be taken to create an effective sales funnel; key to this is delivering the right content that fits with each stage. From this you should create a content calendar to move your target market seamlessly from one level of the sales funnel, to the next.
Image via Inside eBiz
Take a look at this example to guide your efforts.
Image via Root Marketing
Core blog features
Quick fire tips for a blog that people love include the use of strong imagery, content broken down by headlines and to-the-point sentences and the addition of social share buttons.
Don’t neglect to check in regularly for social media interaction
You should always respond to any social media interaction emerging from your updates – it’s vital for building relationships and creating a social profile that buzzes.
Week 2: Implement
Begin to implement your content strategy – alongside this you should create a landing page to capture emails. A landing page’s success relies upon a successful trade of information – where your visitor receives something useful (again, such as this guide) and you receive their email.
Of equal importance, and in order to drive people to your landing page, you need to feature a strong visual call-to-action – such as a banner on your website, a status update or even an infographic that summarises certain parts of the content.
Image via Scalable Social Media
Week 3: Promote
Whilst continuing your content efforts to continue attracting fresh leads, by now you should be already building an email list. This is an invaluable tool for sales funnel progression as you can control what is sent, when it is sent and who it is sent to.
As well as being part of a considered content strategy, your emails should also be personalised and both social share and SEO-friendly.
Week 4: Take a step back and measure your results
After all of that hard work it’s vital that you gauge your success. This should include using Google Analytics to weigh up the worth of your content and performance of your landing page design.
Here’s some guidance onwards:
If your landing page has a low total view number…
You need to promote it more – consider creating more content, more often, and try experimenting with social media PPC. One of the most effective ways to utilise this is through video.
If your landing page total view count is respectable but the email addresses receives are low…
Then you need to reconsider the landing page design, the content offer, or both.
If you’re not reaping any sales from those marketed to via email…
Then it may mean that you’re targeting the wrong people, or that your content is unsuccessfully moving potential customers through the sales funnel. Re-visit your sales funnel design and evaluate which of the two it may be.
All of this should contribute to an inbound marketing strategy that only ever improves over time, and whilst you continually craft your content to increasingly address your target market’s pain points, you’ll become more successful at driving more ready-to-purchase customers to your door.
I hope this article has explained the concept of Inbound Marketing and how it can help your business generate leads and improve your customer engagement. If you wish to receive more marketing goodness like this, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter – below.
If you need ‘a fresh pair of eyes and ears’ to have a closer look at how your business markets itself, let’s meet for a coffee and an informal chat – there’s no charge.
Plus, if based in the North East, you may also be eligible for funding to help with the cost of almost any type of marketing support that will help your business to grow – from strategic marketing planning and web design through to social media management.