By now you’ve seen all the people writing all the blogs and all the posts about marketing’s latest buzzword: inbound marketing. And when you read those blogs and those posts, you realize all the tactics and ideas seem a bit familiar. Inbound marketing, or at least the term “Inbound marketing,” in simplest form is social media marketing, blog posts, videos, podcasts, whitepapers, SEO, physical products and/or different types of content designed to attract and engage the prospect and help pull them through the customer life cycle. In fact, it’s pretty similar to another marketing buzzword you’ve probably seen time and time again in recent years, content marketing. But Inbound marketing is a bit more than that.
Content marketing is driven by the idea of customers' control — that people need to find value in your brand outside of the product or service itself to become loyal brand advocates. Inbound marketing marries this driving force behind content marketing with the context and distribution necessary to truly deliver value to prospects and customers at every touchpoint. From there, your content and message can provide the information and insights needed to build valuable and lasting relationships.
So maybe the term “Inbound marketing” will stick around forever. Maybe it won’t. But either way, the purpose and strategy behind it aren’t going anywhere. Here are four key ways to harness the power of Inbound marketing for your brand:
- Define Your Audience.
If your audience is too broad your content may be too vague and generic to make an impact. Do your research. What makes your audience or customer tick? Using statistics, free online tools, customer surveys or focus groups to determine what they want. What are they consuming online? What would make their lives easier? Tap into free resources like Nielson Scarborough and Google Analytics to glean valuable insights on your audience.
- Then listen to them.
Have you ever been to a cocktail party and ended up in the conversation with the ego maniac who can’t seem to get enough of themselves? You try to get a word in but they are still relating everything back to them and selling themselves… don’t be that guy. Take GENUINE interest in your audience. Mix and mingle with them through social media and your online content and newsletters just like you would at a party.
- Only ask for what you need.
Time and time again people are deterred by information gates or requests often used in inbound. And the longer the form, the less likely the conversion. Your sales team says they need 15 fields filled out? Ask them what they could do if they had X% more leads. After all, it’s possible you’ll only get one chance to gain a lead. Better to get it while you can and use follow up methods (either automated or with a personal phone call) to gather the rest. Wouldn’t it be worth it?
- And finally, remember a tool is not a strategy.
Using HubSpot or another automated tool or CRM to manage the process is NOT a strategy. The inbound buzz may have started with the proliferation of software applications that simplify the execution of inbound marketing strategies. But while buying software might help you to simplify the challenge, make no mistake there is work to be done. Heavy lifting comes in the form of identifying your content strategy: objectives, your audiences, the channels where you will reach them and the content you will share with them.
So, whether you just heard the term for the first time or you are finally coming to terms with the fact that this idea, however new or old, has huge validity, Inbound marketing is here to stay. In a day and age where discussions of millennials and their self-centric mentality are everywhere, inbound marketing highlights the worth in voluntarily giving away value in the hopes to build meaningful relationships. And I, sap that I am, think that is a beautiful thing.
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