What is inbound marketing? Think of it as a circus barker, extolling the mysteries and excitement that lie in wait just inside the tent. The barker is yesterday’s marketer whose job was to grab people’s attention. Then he created excitement and curiosity by painting verbal pictures. People would listen, drawing nearer with craning necks to see what the fuss was all about. A successful barker would convert the inquisitive looky-loos into buyers, who traded their hard-earned dimes and quarters to see the bearded lady or the two-headed calf.
Inbound marketing uses more sophisticated marketing techniques, but the goal is the same. Get people’s attention, make them curious enough to visit your site, then convert them into enthusiastic buyers.
Here are five proven inbound marketing tips that are as easy to implement as standing on a soapbox and far more effective.
1. Content Marketing Strategy
Most marketers, B2B or B2C, have a specific demographic with whom they want to target. They are people who are most likely to make a purchase and become a loyal customer.
To accomplish this, we develop a content marketing strategy that builds your authority and rank in search. The strategy will identify content that matters to your prospects. To begin the process, take an inventory of the content you already have published.
Audit Your Current Content
Have you ever cleared out your basement or attic and found interesting items you didn’t know you had? Most websites have the same buried treasures. By performing a content audit, you’ll likely find interesting posts that can be updated and repurposed. Ultimately, you’ll want content for the various customer personas for each stage of their buyer’s journey.
Pro Tip: If you have many blogs covering related topics, consider combining them into an eBook as a lead magnet.
Content marketing is much more than blog posts. It’s any content that helps your customers or promotes your products. It includes blogs, videos, podcasts, listicles, reviews, company news, white papers, or anything that will interest your target audience.
Pillar Post and Clusters of Topics
It’s pointless to attract people who will never convert. Therefore, the goal of your content is to draw your best prospects. Using the “Pillar Post and Cluster” concept is the best way to organize your topics.
The pillar post is the main topic, the Big Idea, for which people search. The clusters are related articles and other content that link back to and support the pillar content. For example, your pillar could be “Digital Marketing.” Cluster posts will cover email marketing, social media marketing, video marketing, and content marketing, each blog linking back to the pillar post about digital marketing. By organizing topics around a central theme, you capture a more comprehensive range of traffic using related keyword groups. This concept is also an SEO technique that improves the website’s ranking for those marketing terms.
Again, this could be videos or podcasts, not just blogs. The forecast for video traffic is that it will exceed 80% of consumer internet traffic by 2021. The video should be a significant part of your inbound marketing strategy.
2. Social Media Marketing
When nurtured, social media is an excellent source of targeted traffic. At least 10% to 15% of your traffic should originate from your social channels. Posting quality content on them and interacting with prospects can create 3x the leads over paid ads.
Try these techniques in your social media channels:
- Repurpose or make original content exclusively for your social channels.
- Get the conversation going by asking provocative questions that elicit a response.
- Interact with influencers to tap into their sphere of influence.
- Ask your audience to share the content.
The people on social sites hate blatant sales messages. Be sure that your posts offer something informative and add to the conversation. By being active, you’ll create credibility and interest.
For example, LinkedIn is the place for business knowledge and career advice, Facebook users enjoy personal connections, and Twitter users share thoughtful bits of information. You can capitalize on these natural conversation starters by providing answers or solutions to their problems. You become the trusted thought leader they seek during their buyer’s journey.
3. Search Engine Optimization
The term “Search Engine Optimization” became part of our vocabulary in 1997. Back then, you only needed to submit the website URL to the search engine to rank. In less than 25 years, search engines have evolved from an embryo to a gargantuan beast that controls the fortunes of every eCommerce website.
SEO still includes the basic techniques like adding your keywords in header, page text, URL, meta description, image file names, and alt tags. However, it requires more than the basics to drive quality traffic. For your pages to rank, you must write content for people, not search engines.
- Answers a buyer’s FAQs
- Is timely
- Solves the reader’s problems
Successful Inbound marketers use “high intent keywords,” or what your English teacher called action verbs. They include words like “buy,” “visit,” “purchase,” and other phrases like, “near me,” and “driving directions.” People searching for these words are ready to act. User behavior now guides the SERPs (search engine ranking pages) with keywords having less of an impact.
4. Events and Word of Mouth Referrals
HubSpot did a poll that demonstrated the power of word of mouth advertising. They asked 402 SMB owners, “What are the biggest drivers of growth for your business?” The top response, at 73%, was word of mouth or referrals. That was over twice as many as SEO or direct outbound sales methods, which were at 30%.
Soliciting Referrals and Positive Reviews
The top 4 ways to receive referrals and reviews are:
- Ask for referrals directly
- Deliver excellent service
- Stay proactive and top of mind
- Maintain a positive brand and corporate image
An excellent inbound methodology that helps generate referrals and positive reviews are events.
Events Are Live and Personal
They can be a local business luncheon, webinar, workshop, or a national tradeshow. There is no better way to stay top of mind with your customers than with face to face meetings.
Branded events are fantastic inbound marketing opportunities. The Event Marketing Institute reported that 49% of attendees at branded events make videos of it, and 98% of consumers create other digital or social content to share. Sharing these posts, photos, and videos creates a personal interaction with the brand. Because it’s user-generated, other prospects perceive it as more genuine and authentic than advertising.
Are events worth the effort? According to an EMI/Mosaic poll, 70% of attendees became regular customers after an event. 84% of attendees have a more favorable opinion of the company or product after the show. You be the judge.
5. Optimized Landing Pages
Now that your prospect is interested enough to click a link, where do you take them? It should be a landing page.
A landing page focuses your prospect’s attention on only one call to action with no distractions. Not only do landing pages pre-qualify your prospects, but it gives them a shortcut to the product purchase.
Here are some tips for designing the best landing page for your offer.
- Message Matching – Customers click on the ad and expect to see continuity in the destination page. Match the message and theme of your brand on the landing page to reduce confusion and clickbacks.
- CTA - Provide a clear call to action, so the prospects know the next step.
- Use the Fewest Form Fields - Although the average is 11 fields, studies show that by reducing fields to 4 increased conversions by 120%.
- Add a Video – Adding video to the page can increase conversions by 86%.
To maximize CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization) for your pages and campaigns, you need to A/B test continuously. CRO tools can elevate conversions, and marketers who use them experience an average ROI of 223%.
Landing pages are fundamental for guiding your prospects to the end of their buying journey, whether you want them to sign up for something, provide a giveaway or present a free download.
Inbound vs. Interruption Marketing
No one likes to be interrupted. Fast-forwarding through TV commercials and using pop-up blockers are two ways consumers avoid in-your-face, unsolicited advertising. It’s why inbound marketing works better than outbound tactics for delivering targeted leads. The prospects feel like they are in control and have less disruption. It also allows for two-way communication, which builds trust and brand loyalty.
The inbound methodology may take longer to return an initial investment. However, the leads are generally more targeted, and the cost per lead is lower. It’s only natural that someone who actively seeks you out will convert at a higher rate than someone who clicks an ad with only mild interest.