From outbound to inbound marketing, from interruption to experience
Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy focused on attracting, educating and empowering consumers with relevant content that actually helps and guides them until they are ready to purchase products or services. The outbound marketing tactics that interrupt people’s daily lives do not work anymore. Rather than grasping for buyer’s attention with expensive ad campaigns, now we can publish engaging and useful information on the web and deliver it exactly when people are interested.
Inbound marketing: a methodology about content within context
With this intention, the concept of buyer’s journey is crucial to understand inbound marketing. The buyer’s journey is an active exploration or research process that a buyer goes through prior to and leading up to the actual purchase. It is made up of three stages; awareness, consideration and decision. When a person feels those first symptoms of a problem, also called pain points, they are in the awareness stage. They will tend to do some high level research to understand or identify whatever it is they need or what they are going through. Then the research bug really kicks in after this stage. They will find that they are now researching options, discovering various solutions and analysing all these simultaneously, this is called the consideration stage. Then finally when they have “Googled” and racked brains enough, they will reach the decision stage. This is when they have decided on a solution and now they can compare vendors to make a final choice.
Inbound marketing is all about creating relevant and remarkable content tailored to the audience at each stage of the buyer’s journey. This means that marketers will be helping the buyer by understanding their problems and figuring out how the brand can truly fit their needs.
Therefore, it has given digital marketing agencies the power to differentiate by doing. Content can take many forms such as a blog, eBooks, infographics, landing pages, whitepapers, online videos to connect with prospects and clients in more meaningful and effective ways. They are creating value, while demonstrating their expertise and growing their businesses.
By combining an entire suite of online marketing campaign elements to the bottom line, inbound marketing makes a considerable impact on brand awareness, lead generation and nurturing, and cost-reduction. It also educates prospects on products or services and speeds up the sales process overall.
The most important way to attract strangers to your content is to understand them. In order to attract potential customers and engage with those that already know the brand, businesses need to switch from a push strategy (outbound marketing) to an attraction strategy (inbound marketing).
How do you do Inbound Marketing?
There are a number of best practices and great suggestions to consider, which is evident with a cursory Google search. Here are 4 of the most important to keep in mind:
- Create good, original content. You’ll see it over and over again, “content is king!” This includes: webinars, ebooks, worksheets, check lists, calculators, blog posts, and white papers to name a few. By providing resources rich with tips, expert advice, and support, you can really position yourself as an industry thought-leader. In addition to promoting the human element of your brand, original content can increase your digital visibility and overall website traffic with strong SEO performance.
- Build strong calls-to-action and solid landing pages. Once you’ve got great content to offer your target personas, you’ll need to create compelling CTAs. In order to download the content you’ve produced, they’ll have to give up some of their contact information so you’ve got to convince them it’ll be worth it. The more perceived value your content has, the more information the user will be willing to exchange when prompted.
- Structure lead-nurturing funnel campaigns intelligently. Whatever your end goal might be, you’ve got to work backwards to string together pieces of premium content that will pull your personas through the buyer’s journey. With a more targeted approach, you’ll help eliminate the clutter that ultimately turns consumers off.
- Set up metrics to track your results and analyze them carefully. While it can be difficult to determine the exact ROI of your inbound efforts, it is significantly less difficult to track how consumers are engaging with your brand. Are you drawing more visitors to your website? Are those visitors converting into leads through one piece of content over another? Are they more receptive to your blog posts or your social media engagement? Take a look at what is working and replicate those efforts across elements that may not be performing as well.
If you’re not sure how to get started or if you don’t have enough time to implement a full strategy, an inbound agency can serve as your strategy and execution arm. To better determine if this is the right approach for your organization, check out our eBook, The ABC’s of Inbound Marketing.