What is Inbound Marketing?

Simply stated, Inbound Marketing is attracting business by connecting with people. The driving factor is to get noticed by creating interest rather than showing a product. Inbound Marketing targets potential customers as well as loyal fans. It provides valuable information to consumers who are actively searching for a product to meet their need.  I don’t admit to being an expert, but I am loving this “new found” way to market!

Many Internet users are simply tired of banners, pop-ups and constant interruptions when they are searching for a product or service. Inbound Marketing gives them engaging and informative content. In place of annoying a potential client, you can turn an ad into something useful for both you and your customers. Helpful for you with search engine optimization and helpful for them without the constant badgering to buy something. For example, an intentional, thoughtful blog post about a blogger’s favorite product can speak to the potential client in a manner a pop-up simply can’t while at the same time providing valuable content with important keywords for search engines.

With a more personal approach, Inbound Marketing can take advantage of an interested party while at the same time providing information in a more entertaining and casual manner.

Inbound Marketing methods include:

  • Blogging/Content Creation
  • Social Media
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • eBook
  • Reputation Management
  • Landing Page
  • Webinar

Benefits of Inbound Marketing:

  • Potential buyers do not get annoyed with advertisements. All content is filtered to what they like.
  • Return on Investment (ROI) can be higher and more long term.
  • Trust is built in something more than just a product.
  • Loyalty is created by a potential client being invested in something more than just a product.
  • Promotion never ends! Even if you are offline, your content will continue to work for you.
  • Potential customers begin to feel like they have a voice and their opinions matters.
  • Keyword blogging and content creation can improve search engine results and bring more traffic to your website.
  • Your audience knows whether to trust your motivation over time. They learn whether your motivation is to sell them something or to build a relationship that will help them for the long haul.

Developing an Inbound Marketing Strategy

Plan. Take the time to think through your plan. What is your ultimate goal? Selling a product or service, signing up new customers, or some other desired outcome. Once you know what you want to accomplish in your inbound marketing campaign, then begin to plan step by step of how you will walk your viewers through this process to achieve your goal.

  • Know your market:  Understand who you are marketing to and what they like, what they don’t like, then craft a message that will truly reach your ideal customers. Knowing if they are young or old, male or female, office professionals or service industry will help you know how to better communicate to your potential clients.
  • Keyword list:  This is a crucial part of any online marketing strategy. Do some research in your industry and online to see what keywords your market is searching to find the products and services you offer. There are many free online tools that will help with this like SERPS.com or MOZ.com. ,
  • Set Goals:  What do you hope to achieve? Increasing traffic, generating leads, building an email list are all examples of goals that can be set for an Inbound Marketing campaign.
  • Strategy:  This is where your market, keywords and goals all come together in a practical application. How do you want to accomplish the goals you set? What Inbound Marketing tools are best for the goals you set? When is the best time to reach your target market or potential customers? Your strategy should use some type of funnel to walk your audience through the process of awareness, evaluation, and purchase or targeted action. Set incremental goals (or benchmarks) to be able to measure your success.

Analyze. Establish a way to collect data from your Inbound Marketing tools that is goal specific. This will make it easier to determine whether your plan is working or not. Check key data at regular intervals, such as how many views a blog or social media post receives, how many readers clicked through to the landing page, and whether or not sales have increased since the start of the campaign. Have you met your goals?

Revise. Adjust your plan according to what you found from the analysis of the data you collected. Are your keywords strong enough to attract attention? Is your funnel clear enough to measure? Instead of starting over, make necessary tweaks and try again. Keep a record of what you have learned and take that knowledge into your next campaign. Keeping good records and making thorough reports is vital for this learning process.

So how does this work?

I recently had a client that was opening a store in a new location. So, let’s walk through what we did for an Inbound Marketing Strategy.

Plan.

  • Know your market: We knew his market was local as well as vacationers to the area. His main concern was how do we reach the local market in a small amount of time? The best solution was social media because he already had a great following.
  • Keyword list: He knew most of the keywords needed for his market, because he has been in business for several years. I suggested a few keyword combinations that might be recognized by his market. He was also introducing a new product, so we were able to add some keywords with his current selections to draw attention for people to try his new product at his new location.
  • Set Goals: Our goals were to generate traffic to his new location as quickly as possible. Another goal was to communicate to those who already knew his business that it had a new product line.
  • Strategy: We made a plan to leverage his strong following on social media by posting several times about his new location and his new product. We asked his followers to share, like and comment in order to receive a free sample on their next trip to his store. We posted several times on social media and blogs about his new product and why it was a healthy choice and gluten free, when most of his other products were not, all the while incorporating strong keywords. We also used word of mouth, by asking local businesses and people he knew to distribute discount cards with their names listed, so we could measure the outcome. The funnel we used was to create awareness by posting his new product and location online and by word of mouth. We then created several posts that led to more information on a landing page where you could place an order for the new product or any of his current product line as well as print a coupon when visiting the store. We set incremental goals (or benchmarks) to track our social media posts as well as the discount cards that were used.

Analyze. We tracked our data over several weeks on social media. We also tracked the incoming discount cards and coupons. We began to print discount cards for individual businesses that became key players in this campaign. A huge factor in our success! We were able to determine the best times and content that the most amount of people were sharing and keyed our future posts on those. We are leading up to a grand opening soon, and I can’t wait to see what a great success it will be! As momentum continues to build, sales are growing, not just of his new product as people try it, but of his regular product line as well.

Revise. Adjusting our plan several times has led to great success. Originally, we shared just about his new location and soon realized to entice local people to visit the store, we needed to give them a reason to come. We wanted to know if the reason for their visit was directly related to what we were promoting. We adjusted our posts to include a free drawing and a free sample upon presenting a coupon from our landing pages. We also included word of mouth discount cards to show us how local people reacted. If we hadn’t made these adjustments to our original plan of sharing his new location, we may not have the growing excitement we have today. With his grand opening just a few weeks away, we continue to make adjustments and listen to the suggestions of his audience. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is listen to others.

Inbound Marketing is an interesting concept and can really make you stop and think. However, if your goal is to connect with people about your products or services, then there is no better way! Interacting with others can be very rewarding. You may find a friend for life or a loyal customer simply because you were interested in something more than a sale.

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