Inbound marketing is all about attracting customers to your business through relevant and meaningful content. In our previous blog post we discussed the difference between inbound marketing and the more traditional outbound marketing and how to begin to make the transition into implementing inbound marketing for your business. In this post, we will dive deeper into how to develop your inbound marketing strategy for success!
The Phases of Inbound Marketing
In the attract phase you want to focus on creating content that will catch your target audience’s attention. The goal in this phase is not to get them to purchase anything, but rather to get them interested in your business and what you have to offer.
You don’t just want to attract everyone to your website, but to focus on attracting those that are more likely to become customers. In this phase, you want to use your content strategy and social media to build authority and awareness of your business. Creating relevant content for your ideal customer will help to attract the right people to your website.
The engage phase is where you begin to create and develop a lasting relationship with any leads you have. This can be done through emails and automated workflows, personalized messaging and targeted ads on social media platforms. In this phase your goal is to connect with your target customer, build trust with them, and have them engage with your brand. You’ll utilize calls to action to shift the customer through this phase to, ideally, a quality interaction with your business or a purchase. At the end of the engage phase, you want your prospective customer to convert to an actual customer.
The delight phase is all about providing content that will make that person happy and for the customer to be delighted with the product or service you provided them. You want to be sure to give the right message to the right person at the right time. In this phase your goal is to build customer loyalty. You want to continue your conversation with your customers, so your business remains top-of-mind and relevant for the next time they need a product or service that your business can offer. You also want to continue to develop your relationship with your customers so they will become advocates for your brand, helping to bring you more potential customers.
Types of Inbound Marketing Tactics
Website and SEO
Your website will be a key tool in engaging with and converting leads into customers. This is where potential customers will learn more about your business, see what you have to offer, and learn more about why your product or service will help them with their current need or challenge. Your website is your 24/7 salesman and you want it to make a good impression for all who visit.
While having a website is essential in today’s digital driven world, it’s not helpful if it can’t be found. This is where search engine optimization, or SEO, comes into play. When people search for a solution to a current challenge, research for a particular product or service, or are seeking information on the best option for what they need, you want your site to be on the first page of results for any searches related to your products or services. Optimizing the content on your website is how you get there. Moz provides a thorough guide to SEO to help you learn all about what it is and how to optimize your site for search engines like Google and Bing.
PPC and Landing pages
Pay per click, or PPC, is another inbound marketing tactic. Pay per click is the advertisements you see in search results – you know, those first few results that have a small “ad” symbol next to them. While it is advertising, this still falls into the realm of inbound marketing because the user must search a term relevant to your website and the keywords you are targeting for your ad to appear. PPC can be a great way to drive high value traffic to your website. If you’re interested in learning more, Wordstream provides a great overview of the basics of PPC.
When someone clicks on your ad, they will be directed to either a page on your website or a dedicated landing page on your site depending on how you choose to set up your ads. Utilizing landing pages is a great way to drive conversions and to move the user through the funnel. A landing page is a simplified page on your site that only has content relevant to what your advertisement is about, be it a particular product, service, or content giveaway like an eBook. On a landing page, you’ll have a clear call to action, or CTA, placed at the top of the page. This could be a form fill, download link, or other actions you want the user to take.
Content – Blogging, eBooks, White papers, Infographics, Videos, Podcasts, and more
Content is a big part of inbound marketing. You’ll want to incorporate some form of content strategy within your inbound marketing strategy. Learn what type of content your target audience prefers and use that. This could be blogging; creating occasional eBooks or white papers; using infographics on your website, blog, or social media; having a channel on YouTube or posting videos directly to your site or social media; podcasts and more. There are so many forms of content. You just need find what works best for your business and your target audience.
Utilizing social media platforms is a great way to create relevant and interesting content for your audience and to engage with your audience on a regular basis. Businesses use social media as a way to build brand awareness, develop trust with customers, show transparency, engage with their audience, and direct traffic to their website. As various social media platforms have evolved over the years, they can even be used further along the buyer journey to develop leads and to convert potential customers to customers. You can now have lead forms on your posts and social media ads and even show your products right in the platforms where people can purchase your product without having to leave the social media app they are on.
Email nurturing is a powerful piece of an inbound marketing strategy. The average ROI from email marketing far exceeds that of any other type of marketing. You can include an email submission form on your website for people to subscribe to your newsletter, product updates, blog, or whatever else you’d like to provide them. Once they’ve opted in to receiving emails from your business, you can send them through an email nurturing workflow. This consists of sending the right messages at the right time. You want to send emails relevant to what they were agreeing to when they provided the email to you, and you want to provide them the information or content they need to make a purchase decision.
Your email workflows somewhat fall into the marketing automation category because you can set them up and let the user follow the workflow automatically. However, there is much more to marketing automation than just emails.
Marketing automation is the use of various software and online tools to automate certain marketing processes. This can include emails, social media management, what happens after a user completes certain actions on your website, and more. The use of marketing automation can make the experiences for your audience more consistent and make certain marketing tasks for you less time consuming and easier to manage.
Develop Your Inbound Marketing Strategy
When creating and developing your inbound marketing strategy, you want it to guide a potential customer through each phase of inbound marketing – you want to be a map through their buyer’s journey. The goal is to interact with them each step of the way and have content that falls in line with each step of the process.
Create Your Buyer Personas
To ensure the content you are creating is relevant and useful to your ideal customer, you should first create buyer personas. These are an extremely useful tool in guiding your marketing efforts and understanding more about who you are trying to attract to your business and engage with. We’ve outlined how to create buyer personas here.
Set SMART Goals
You want to always set SMART goals for your inbound marketing strategy. This means you want all of your goals to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. Being specific in your goals eliminates any grey area or space for misunderstanding of what the actual goal is, and making it measurable means you have a way to see how much progress you’ve made towards your goal and you have a way to determine if the goal has been reached or not. You want to challenge yourself, but you don’t want to set a goal you’ll never be able to achieve; that’s why you want to create a goal that is attainable. You’ll also want to be realistic in your goal setting. Be honest with yourself on what resources you have to put towards achieving the goal and what your team is capable of. Lastly, you want to place a time restraint on your goals – you want a deadline. This gives you accountability and pushes you to achieve your goal by a certain date rather than just saying you hope to reach it someday.
Conduct a Website Audit
After setting your goals, you’ll want to conduct, or have someone conduct, a website audit. In this audit you want to discover if your website is set up well for search engines, if the content on your site is relevant and well written for SEO, if your site is lacking content that would be helpful for potential visitors to learn more about your business, and if your website provides a good user-experience. The results of this audit can show you areas of your website that need improvement and guide your focus for the first bit of your inbound marketing efforts. If you find that your website’s content needs further development, then your focus will go there to ensure your content is helpful to the user and able to be found in search results.
On-page SEO consists of optimizing content on each page of your website for search engines. You want this content to be crawlable by search engines and provide the information needed to your site visitors. On-page SEO greatly affects your site’s ranking in search results. Moz provides great information on the factors that go into on-page SEO. This consists of the keywords used on the page, internal and external links, page structure such as the use of titles, the URL for the page, and so much more.
Digital Advertising or PPC
Implementing digital advertising or PPC into your inbound marketing strategy can be a useful tool to get your business’ name out there and visible to potential customers. You can do digital advertising on search engines like Google and Bing as well as on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, LinkedIn, and more.
When setting up a digital advertising campaign, you’ll want to make a list of all relevant keywords, outline your target audience’s characteristics, and determine which page on your site you want them directed to or if a dedicated landing page should be created. You’ll create an ad group for all keywords that are related, create ads that are intriguing and will catch someone’s attention, and set up the parameters for your campaign. You can target people based on gender, age, geographical location, and even their interests. The landing page the ad will send someone to when they click on your ad should have a clear call-to-action at the top of the landing page, to guide the user into the next step of action you want them to take.
Social Media Marketing
Social media is a strong tool for engaging with your audience and building relationships with them. Create a strategy around how you want to utilize social media for your inbound marketing. What type of content do you want to post on your social media accounts? What platforms will your business be active on? How frequent will you post? And so on. Be sure that all content posted accurately reflects your brand and what you want people to know about your brand.
Build Your Content Strategy
As you build your content strategy, you’ll want to be specific in outlining what types of content you want to do, what types of content will be most helpful for your audience in each stage of the buyer journey, and be organized in planning out a content calendar. One key to a content calendar is to have a plan but to be flexible. Events and current news will come up that provides your business a great opportunity to create timely and relevant content and you want to be ready and flexible enough to grasp that opportunity.
Blogging and Guest Blogging
One great form of content is a blog. Many businesses have found success in blogging consistently on their website and promoting those posts on social media and through email. Blogs can be great for the attract phase of inbound marketing and to guide the buyer further along their journey. On a blog, you want to provide the reader content that will inform them and that they can interact with and engage with. You want your blog to be helpful to your target audience in their journey to purchasing a product or service.
eBooks and White Papers
eBooks and white papers are another form of content that can be very useful and informational for your audience. Oftentimes this form of content fits best a little further down the funnel when they are closer to making a purchase decision. The content you’ll put in an eBook or white paper will be much more in-depth and specific to the user’s need. For an eBook or white paper, you will usually want to require the user to complete a form to be able to download it – often simply requiring their name and email address. This is helpful in your business acquiring new leads and being able to follow up with those interested in your eBooks so you can nurture those leads.
Acquire Leads with Content Offers
Like mentioned above with acquiring leads from an eBook or white paper offer, you can create many other free content offers that require the person interested to provide you with basic contact information.
You want your content strategy to have content that will attract your target audience, and you want that content to be easily assessible with nothing required on their part, like your blog. But it is also important to incorporate content offerings in your content strategy that are of higher value and can require the user to provide their email or phone number to receive it. This is a great way to acquire leads and be able to build a relationship with them and aid them in moving through your sales funnel.
Offer a Webinar or Online Course
Many people today enjoy webinars and short online courses. If it makes sense for your business and what you do, like if you provide a service, then a webinar may be a great addition to your content strategy. This is another piece of content that fits in well further down the sales funnel. The content provided in a webinar or online course will be more in-depth and require much more of your time and your audience’s time.
Interactive content is key to engaging with your audience. We use interactive content each day without even realizing it. How many times have you been on a site or social media and completed a short quiz, played a small game, or used a handy calculator for something like figuring out how much your car payment may be for your dream car? We can’t help but interact with content like this when we see it and it can be a strong tool for your content strategy too.
Many studies have proven the effectiveness of video. Video can seem intimidating or more time consuming than creating content for social media or writing a blog post, but it doesn’t have to. The professional high-end videos you see created by large corporations take a big time investment and a large budget, but your business can make effective and interesting videos without that. You can make brief videos about your products to show how to use it or to showcase a new product release. You can also utilize Facebook Live and Instagram Stories to interact with your audience. This can be simple videos done in your place of business or at an event your business is attending or sponsoring. Think of what works for your business and get creative!
Effective Email Marketing
When developing your inbound strategy, outline to what extent you want to use email. Decide how you will acquire email addresses of those interested in your business, how often you plan to send out emails, and if you will utilize emails to promote special events, sales, or product releases.
You can also plan out if you want to utilize automated email workflows. These can be handy for instances like when someone submits their email on your website form. You can create an automated workflow that will send them a “thank you for subscribing” email, then a follow up email welcoming them to your business, and so on.
Utilize Marketing Automation Where It Makes Sense
Marketing automation can save you a lot of time with smaller marketing tasks. It’s worth it to look into different marketing automation software to see what may work for you and how you want to manage it. While automated processes are nice, not everything should be automated. Think through the type of experience you want your audience to have and see where it makes sense to implement automated processes versus you doing it manually.
Test, Track, and Improve Your Strategy
As always, you don’t want to create a marketing strategy and implement it without tracking your efforts and seeing what’s working and what’s not. Consistent tracking and reporting on your inbound marketing efforts will help you to see areas needing improvement and things that may not be working at all. If your blog and eBooks are doing great, but no one really shows interest in your online course, maybe it’s time to consider if you should even do the online course or if the course just doesn’t cover a topic your audience is interested in. Your strategy will always have room for improvement and modifications as your audience’s preferences change over time.
As you work on developing your inbound marketing strategy, if you find you want more guidance or help creating it contact us and we’d be happy to help your business create a successful strategy.