Inbound Marketing: What is it? And How do I Excel at it?
Have you heard of inbound marketing but are not quite sure what it means?
I remember when the term came to prominence around 2006. Everyone was talking about it and quite frankly, I had no idea what it was.
After looking into it further, I realised how powerful this approach to marketing can be. Not only does it create more customers, it provides a longevity to your business that is difficult to achieve with more traditional marketing methods.
After realising this, I started to learn the ways of inbound marketing and engrained this approach into every marketing project I undertook.
In the blog post, I will breakdown what inbound marketing means and talk about the core elements that you must have in place to excel at it.
After reading this post, you will be able to develop an inbound strategy for your business.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is defined as a method to attract and convert your ideal customer by creating a valuable experience through informative content.
Unlike outbound marketing, inbound aims to delight your ideal customer by providing relevant content that will help them overcome their daily challenges.
The inbound marketing approach really puts an emphasis on the psychological sales principle of reciprocity as you want to provide value to your potential customers before they even become a customer.
The idea is that they are so happy with the content you create, that you build a high level of trust and credibility.
Instead of pushing people towards a sale it is pulling them towards your business in an automated way. If you get this right, then you can automate 99% of your sales process.
Plus, your brand is seen as a trusted authority in your niche and not an organisation that relies on pushy sales tactics.
Let's look at how to get it right.
The 4 Pillars of Inbound Marketing
In order to create a successful inbound marketing strategy, you have to consider the different stages of the customer journey.
This can be categorised into four stages.
Stage 1: Attract
Attracting your ideal customers to your website can be done through publishing content that they find useful. The simplest way to do this is through a blog.
You can also use video, infographics, quizzes, games, and other forms of engaging content.
Ask yourself what your business does for your customers or clients? What problems do you help them solve?
By asking these questions, you can uncover how you are currently providing value to your customers. Now, create content around these problems.
When you start to create your content, this will act as the mechanism to attract people to your website. You need to make sure that the content is SEO friendly in order to drive organic traffic to it.
You can also promote your content through social media channels and PPC advertising like; Facebook, Google Ads, and YouTube.
Once you drive traffic to your website and the helpful content you have created, it's time to focus on the next stage in the customer journey.
Stage 2: Convert
Now, when it comes to the convert stage, we don't necessarily mean converting website visitors into a customer.
In fact, the better conversion tactic is to convert people into a lead. This has a much lower barrier to entry than a sale and will produce much cheaper conversions.
A great way to convert people into a lead is to create something that is called a lead magnet. This is a highly valuable piece of content that is only accessible if someone provides their contact information for it.
A great example of a lead magnet is a downloadable PDF eBook that focuses on the challenge that you business helps solve.
Other examples of lead magnets include; free consultations, product discounts, content upgrades, free training, competitions, quizzes, and free tools.
When it comes to lead magnets, the more creative you are the better. Think about how you can differentiate your business from your competition that are also taking an inbound approach to marketing.
Of course, by just creating a lead magnet, it doesn't mean you are going to get a lot of leads. You have to make sure your website visitors can find them.
This can be done by simply including text or a graphic within a blog post to let people know about the lead magnet.
You can also try using a lead generation software to better promote your lead magnet to website visitors. This will allow you to use creative tactics like pop ups, welcome bars, and exit intent forms, to convert more website visitors into leads.
When it comes to adopting an inbound marketing approach, you should always do more to optimise your website for lead generation.
Once you have optimised your website for lead generation, the next stage is to...
Stage 3: Close
By taking an inbound marketing approach the closing stage is substantially easier than if you were to take an outbound marketing approach.
If you have ever tried cold calling then you will know it is not easy. Even if you can get past the gatekeeper, winning the trust of the target prospect is challenging.
Inbound marketing looks to build trust in leads before they even make it to a sales event.
Marketing automation tools such as email and chatbots can be used to engage leads and build trust. This also automates 99% of the lead nurturing process.
You should also still be using content marketing at this stage. Instead of the content being geared towards the attraction stage it is focused on providing the necessary information for leads to become customers.
Examples of this include; FAQs, case studies, testimonials, tutorials, and training.
Once you have created a customer, there is still one more step in the inbound marketing process...
Stage 4: Delight
The delight stage is something that is often overlooked by many people when adopting inbound marketing.
This is the stage where you continue to engage with your customers, providing them with helpful content.
The idea with this stage is to create advocates for your business who share your content on social media and tell their friends about you.
By delighting your customers in this way, you will create even more organic growth for your business.
How to Excel at Inbound Marketing?
So, that's the basics of what is inbound marketing covered, now let's look at how you can create an excellent inbound strategy for your business.
It start's with...
The Right Customer Persona
You likely already know how important having a customer persona is. Do you use them in your business?
The customer persona is a method used to understand more about your target audience through creating an ideal customer.
Using this method, you can develop a deep understanding about the person you are targeting with your marketing, include information on their; challenges, interests, where they hang out, income, etc.
With this information you can create campaigns that speak to this individual. This will make your campaigns much more effective.
If you have not created any customer personas for your business, you can grab our Customer Avatar Template by signing up to our free customer acquisition training here.
This will help you develop your ideal customer persona.
Create Regular Content
Now that you know who you are targeting, you can begin to create relevant and regular content for them.
As I mentioned before, this content should be aimed at helping them overcome certain problems.
The content should be aligned with your business's offerings and how they relate to helping your customers.
I suggest creating this core content at least once a week. This will allow you to engage your audience on a regular basis and show the search engines that you have an active website.
This is the content that you want to host on your website and drive targeted traffic through to. This will be your blog posts, videos, infographics, etc.
Create a content schedule that outlines the type of content that you will be creating and when. Assign people in your business to create the content make sure you have someone who proof reads it.
Here is an example of a content schedule.
Now before you create your content schedule, you need to make sure you...
Target Relevant Keywords
A good inbound marketing strategy involves Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO is the magic that get's your website found when searching on Google and other search engines.
The starting point to good SEO is keyword research. A keyword is the word or phrase people use to search for relevant content on search engines.
An example of a keyword is... 'dog training in Cambridge'.
By researching the relevant keywords in your niche, you will be able to tailor your content to what people are searching for. The idea here is to make your content visible to people searching for those keywords.
To do this, you want to include your keyword in the; title, URL, image Alt tags, meta title, and a few times throughout the body of your content.
If this sounds like a foreign language to you, here is a great blog post from Moz to help you understanding onsite SEO better.
By doing this, when search engines come to crawl your website, they will see that this piece of content is relevant for that keyword.
To find relevant keywords, use a keyword tool like Ubersuggest. This is free and one of the easiest keyword tools to use.
Google also have their own keyword tool but I personal prefer the UI of Uber Suggest and it has some pretty cool features as well.
Visit the Ubersuggest page and type in a word or phrase that you think people will search.
Uber Suggest will then pull up some information about that keyword including; the number of monthly searches and how difficult it is to rank on that search term (this is out of 100).
Scroll down the page to find a list of keywords related to that term.
This is going to pull up a bunch of relevant keywords for your business.
Another way to conduct keyword research is to look at what your competitors are doing.
Uber Suggest also offers a feature where you can type in your competitors URL and it will tell you the keywords that they rank for.
If you are just getting started with SEO, you will want to create a list of terms that are easy to rank on. I suggest starting with keywords that have a SEO difficult of less than 30.
Spend some time conducting this keyword research. Once you have your keywords, you can create more relevant content that will help drive more organic traffic to your website.
Lead Generation is Key
The next step to the inbound puzzle is to really focus on lead generation. You want to be able to convert as many website visitors into leads as possible.
You want to do as much as possible to promote your lead generation method but you also don't want to create a rubbish experience for website visitors.
This means you don't want to have a hundred different pop ups that make it difficult to consume the content. Make your lead generation method clear but don't be annoying.
Here is a great example of how to do this well by Rob Powell.
Notice the lead magnet promotion on the right of the screen? How can you miss it? It's obvious but at the same time, not intrusive.
For more ways to generate leads from your website, check out this blog post on the topic.
Use Marketing Automation
The final step to an effective inbound marketing strategy is to utilise marketing automation.
This will allow you to send automated marketing messages to new leads. You can use this to introduce new leads to your business and products/services.
The most common way to do this is to use email automation. To find an email automation tool that works for your business, read this blog post where I help you choose the best email marketing platform for your business.
By sending regular emails, you will begin to build a relationship with your leads. Some leads will interact with your emails more than others.
It is these leads that you want to focus on. Most marketing automation tools will allow you to score your leads based on how engaged they are.
You can measure their level of engagement by if they open an email or click on a link within it.
If they hit a certain score, it is time for your sales team to contact them.
This is the moment where the big picture of inbound marketing becomes clear.
Instead of your sales team calling every single lead you get, or even worse, cold calling people from a contact list your purchased, they are only contacting qualified leads.
These leads already know about your business and its product or services, and have built up a level of trust in your business through the constant interaction and relevant content.
When your sales team get on the phone with them, they are much more likely to convert into a customer.
Now it is a bit more complicated than just sending some emails. You need to create an email sequence that provides them with the information they need to trust that your business can help them solve their challenges.
You can find out how to do this by downloading our Simple Customer Acquisition Framework eBook.
This walks you through how to create leads and use marketing automation to turn them into customers.
The Inbound Marketing Approach
By creating an inbound marketing strategy for your business, you will be able to find and attract more qualified leads into your business. You can then turn more of those leads into customers in the most efficient way.
Inbound marketing is not just about creating more customers, but doing it in a way that allows you to reduce costs and scale your business faster.
If you are not using inbound marketing, use the information in this blog post to get started to day.
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