You’ve placed ads all over the Internet and generated significant awareness of your brand among a large pool of consumers. Now you want to take the next step, and convert them into happy, paying customers. But how do you capture their attention and retain it through inbound marketing? How do you convince them that your brand is worth the price? And most importantly, how can you cultivate a positive relationship with them to keep them coming back?
Luckily, the answer to all of your questions lies in a simple strategy. In this post, we’ll explore what it is, what it does, and how you can employ it most effectively to increase your customer base and word of mouth.
What is Inbound Marketing?
As its name suggests, inbound marketing (also known as pull marketing) is a marketing technique used to draw your audience in and convert them into paying customers. The approach is simple: reel them in with engaging content that meets your audience’s needs and is aligned with your business goals, and let the work speak for itself.
This stands in contrast to outbound marketing, which focuses on pushing your content outwards to generate brand awareness and widen your audience. Outbound marketing is most commonly associated with paid avenues, such as online advertising or traditional print media.
Inbound marketing is one of the most organic ways to attract loyal customers, as it relies on your audience’s own receptiveness to your message. Though it may seem straightforward, effective inbound marketing requires a deft hand and a good deal of skill—which is why we’re here to explain the ins and outs of this dynamic marketing strategy.
Why is it Important?
Inbound marketing is an essential part of many businesses’ marketing strategies, as it has the rare benefit of allowing you to reach potential customers right as they’re searching for products and services. For example, if you’re a travel agency, imagine someone entering “best Europe travel packages into Google”—and seeing your website appear at the very top.
Without spending a single cent, you can rein audiences in and show what makes your business unique, armed with just a few simple techniques to boost your standing. And with shorter attention spans and an increased need for speed among consumers, it’s never been more important to be in the right place at the right time.
What Kinds of Inbound Marketing Can I Use?
Inbound marketing is a broad category that includes several marketing strategies, many of which can enhance the effectiveness of your campaign. As its basic aim is to entice potential customers, the term may apply to a number of marketing techniques that fit this criterion.
While inbound marketing can be carried out in several ways on many different platforms, successful inbound marketing campaigns generally have two phases:
Everybody has to start somewhere, and your business is no exception. Owned media refers to channels and platforms (most often those on social media) where your business has an active, consistent presence, and where you control the content you create and publish. This may include your Facebook page, Instagram profile or official blog.
Cultivating a distinctive, engaging presence on your owned media platforms is a crucial first step in establishing a unique identity for your business. To carve out a place for yourself in the hearts of your audience, you need to be able to show exactly what makes your business special—and the only way to do that is by putting out exclusive content that only you can create.
Once you’ve gained a sizable following on your owned media platforms, you can expect to see your brand popping up in external media outlets, a phenomenon known as “earned media”. This occurs when your brand gains popularity and awareness, and may be in the form of social media mentions, online reviews or even coverage in traditional print media. As opposed to owned media, which requires consistent effort on your part to maintain, you should think of earned media as a return on your original investment, and treat it as an indicator of the success of your inbound marketing campaign.
You can also make use of several marketing strategies in your quest to attract customers, the most effective of which is search engine optimisation (SEO). When done well, this technique will get your website to the top of that coveted front page of search results. SEO involves improving the layout of your landing page and including relevant keywords in your content, among other things. This will help search engines determine whether your site deserves users’ utmost attention.
Which Platforms are Most Suitable?
Picking the platform that will best help you to get your message out is one of the most important aspects of any marketing strategy—especially so for inbound marketing, which relies on audience receptivity to be effective. Unlike outbound marketing, whose goal is simply to raise awareness of your brand, inbound marketing requires careful targeting of your audience, which means you need to choose the platform whose main demographic is most in line with the type of customers you would like to reach.
An official blog for your business is one of the most effective (and easiest) ways to attract potential audiences. By simply creating and posting content that is relevant to their interests and your business, you’ll enjoy a higher chance of converting them into loyal customers. The good news is, today’s most popular blog hosting sites (like WordPress or Wix) offer support for a variety of media types, so you can combine your social media presence with your blog to create a truly outstanding reading experience.
The many channels that make up today’s social media landscape have rapidly established themselves as an exciting new avenue for all kinds of marketing strategies. Depending on the goals of your brand and business, you may choose to set up profiles on different social networks or platforms. For example, Facebook is best for longer text posts (though photos and videos are also supported) and is well-known for its easy accessibility, while more visual mediums like Instagram and YouTube may be better for businesses looking to show off their inventory.
Last but not least, don’t knock print sources like newspapers and magazines: while it is true that they have ceded their place at the top of the media food chain to online sources, they remain a staple of many consumers’ daily reading diets, and any opportunity to be featured as part of your earned media strategy is not to be passed up. Traditional media is particularly useful for targeting consumers with a specific set of interests, and for reaching audiences outside the web: for example, featuring a new beauty brand in a women’s style magazine may give it a much-needed boost from offline consumers.
How Can I Make My Business Stand Out?
Employ a Consistent Strategy
Inbound marketing isn’t just about reaching out to your audience; it’s about keeping their attention once you’ve already captured it, to sell your business as effectively as you can. Thus, maintaining a consistent and regularly updated online presence is essential to any inbound marketing campaign. After all, starting a blog but leaving it to gather dust for six months between posts probably isn’t going to work out the way you want it to.
Invest in Good Content
As mentioned previously, content marketing goes hand in hand with successful inbound marketing, and releasing quality content for consumers is the cornerstone of your campaign. Ensuring that the content you’re releasing is relevant and engaging should be your top priority, after which you’ll be able to sit back and reap the rewards as it begins to organically draw in potential customers.
Learn from the Pros
Of course, nobody can become an expert on inbound marketing overnight, which is why it’s always a good idea to do some research before embarking on your own strategy. Besides figuring out what works for you and your brand, another way to make sure you’re fully prepared is to take a leaf out of professionals’ books, and pick up some of their key techniques and top tips. Luckily, learning how to do this doesn’t need to be an expensive process: with free courses on HubSpot, which coined the term way back in 2006, you’ll be putting your own strategies in motion in no time.
How Do I Measure the Success of My Campaign?
While there are a variety of metrics available for you to quantify the effectiveness of your inbound marketing strategy, which one to use depends on the goals of your business. For example, if your main aim is simply to get as many people to visit your website as possible, you may choose to monitor the total number of clicks and impressions you receive. But if you’re looking to take it one step further and increase sales or profits, the overall conversion rate (which measures the percentage of visitors that completed desired actions on your website) may be more useful. By studying your metrics carefully, you’ll be able to identify any inadequacies or areas for improvement in your inbound marketing campaign.