What is Inbound Marketing?
Since 2006, inbound marketing, a term coined by Hubspot, has been the most effective way of marketing for businesses. Inbound marketing is creating great content to draw in your customers rather than buying email lists and not getting a response from many. The four actions Inbound Marketing companies take are Attract, Convert, Close, Delight. These represent what a company should be doing to bring in more customers.
To attract customers you need something to entice them in, which is where a lot of companies struggle. Blogs are a great way to get started, however just blogging about yourself and your company isn’t what people are going to spend their time reading. Try creating content that your customers will enjoy, make it related to what you’re doing but make sure it’s not all me, me, me. For instance, a makeup company should not just put their products out on show, but also create useful content i.e. tutorial videos and vLog’s. The easiest way to attract customers is to help them rather than sell at them.
Has your website got relevant keywords? Search Engine Optimization is something that is needed by all business to help boost leads. As much as many people think it isn’t, Google is your friend! With SEO done properly, doubled with great content there is a high chance you’ll be up on the first page. However, Google changes it’s algorithms regularly and you need a company who are at the top of their game.
Social Media plays a big role in attracting people, as most people use some form of it. You need to relate to your potential customers and add a human face to your brand. The content you have created should be posted on Social Media to make people aware of your company, as it can be easily shared and your reach is a lot higher than it would have been with just a website. Engaging posts can help with the sharing, so ask questions in your posts, get feedback, start a conversation! It is a social network after all.
Converting visitors into leads is a vital part of the cycle. Forms are needed to gather your potential customers information, and you can then reach out to them over email. Although, spamming them with unwanted emails will not help you at all. Why did the customers sign up to your newsletter? Not to get useless emails fill up their inbox. Landing pages also play a vital role in converting visitors, as they can’t go anywhere else apart from to the page and do the intended action. Call to action buttons like ‘Download our eBook’ should always be directed to a specific page to fill out a form so your sales team can gather information. However, a lot of people don’t like filling out forms so using Social Sign In can a great way to help generate more leads.
Keep track all of the contacts you have made in a CRM programme, so you can keep in contact with them and hopefully eventually convert them into paying customers. These can be from over Social Media, via email or through a form, and there is a lot of potential here.
Close the deal with the lead and change them into a paying customer. Keep track of all communications with customers in a CRM programme as this makes it much easier and quicker to find the correct information. You can keep track of all communications and make sure you meet your deadlines.
Has your visitor signed up and still not become a paying customer? If so, email and social media are your best forms of communication. Share your content, pop in a video, tell people what you’ve been up to but keep it brief. Don’t put too much text in emails, instead, create buttons or use pictures that direct to your website when clicked or to a specific landing page.
Make your customers happy and encourage them to promote your company. Send out surveys to your customers and get their feedback and improve where needed. See what they think could be improved and when you make that improvement, let everyone know!
Monitor your social media carefully and see what customers are saying about you. Persuade them to rate your company and share your content (however, do not beg for shares or retweets as this just gets ignored) Have a look into your analytics and see what your best performing posts are and at what time of they are. Schedule your posts at certain times so you know people actually see your content. If one type of content gets more engagements, then create more like that! On Facebook, you can see when your audience is online through the “insights” tab on your Facebook Page. A great tool for Twitter is SocialBro, they give you a handy graph to show you when your audience is online throughout the week.
Inbound marketing is never about pestering people to buy your product or service, it’s about creative exceptional content for your visitors and to relate to them too. Creating conversations is the best way to get your name out there. With Inbound Marketing, it’s about raising awareness of your company to bring potential customers in, convert them into leads, convincing them to become a paying customer and then keeping the customers happy.
Inbound uses interactive tools like landing pages, call-to-action and SEO which makes a large impact on leads. In short, you want your customers to become brand ambassadors as essentially this is free marketing.
So are content marketing and inbound marketing the same?
Content Marketing is the creation and distribution of quality content that relates to your product or service. To be a great content marketer you need a clear understanding of your audiences interests. It’s all about engaging with the audience and getting replies or shares from your content. You can tell the difference between general content and the content in a marketing campaign, because the content will be relevant and not something that people are trying to avoid.
Research is a large part of the buying process today. If people are impressed with the content that a company produces then they could be convinced they want your product or service before they have already spoken to you. This means less sales efforts need to be put in as the customers are coming to you. Good content raises awareness of your brand as people are more likely to share and it helps with SEO. Content marketing is free and only takes up a few hours a week.
The difference between the two is that content marketing is a part of inbound marketing. By attracting and converting customers, you are using content marketing. The end of the cycle is close and delight, which is where you can see inbound marketing is more extensive.
Overall I believe that content marketing is the better option for smaller businesses as you can do it free and there is a lot of proof out there that it works. Inbound Marketing requires a bit of a spend if you aren’t 100% tech savvy but it does get good results. Where possible, Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing should be considered as one.