Marketing has been undergoing an incredible transformation in the past years. Online has become a must instead of something business owners would consider. The need to be online has been even more accentuated by the current COVID crisis.
Let’s not forget, at the centre of all marketing activities there is a consumer, a client or an individual we want to offer our product to and being online is one if not the only way to do this. But marketing is not only about sales but about building trust, a relationship with someone. And following Pareto’s principle, 80% of your marketing activities are meant to provide information and educate consumers and only 20% should focus on growing sales.
What is inbound marketing?
As we are talking about creating trust, you want to make sure your communication is effective and the quality of your content is high. Inbound marketing is a form of marketing that requires a very careful definition of the target audience and a customized communication plan.
If we are to think about the process of trusting someone, is when their words and what they communicate translate into action. You seek those actions or behaviours that communicate reliability and trustworthiness. The same happens when you market your business. When you provide resources, content, you are already making an effort to provide potential visitors with information catered to their needs. Therefore inbound marketing is a form of marketing or strategy that enables you to connect with potential customers through materials and experiences extremely valuable to them.
According to HubSpot, inbound marketing is about strategies you can use to turn strangers into customers and then promoters of your business. More than customers and promoters what you want is to create raving fans that create awareness of your business.
What are inbound marketing strategies?
Now, what type of strategies an inbound marketing campaign would include? The main strategies we find are used across multiple industries are as follows:
- Content creation and distribution: create targeted content that answers your potential ‘prospects’ and ‘customers’ questions about their needs. Then distribute the content far and wide across the platforms your customers are in.
- Lifecycle Marketing: Create specific marketing actions and tools to help strangers to become your company’s promoters. For a client to reach the promoter stage, they don’t materialize out of thin air, quite the opposite. They start as strangers, visitors, contacts and customers.
- Personalization: tailor your content to the wants and needs of people who are viewing it. As you learn more about your leads, over time you can better personalize your message and content to their needs.
- Multi-channel strategies: All inbound strategies are meant to help you distribute your content across channels where your potential customers are. With inbound marketing, you can approach people where they are, in the channel where they want to interact with you.
- Integration: combine all inbound marketing strategies to work together like a well-oiled machine – allowing you to focus on publishing the right content in the right place and at the right time.
You will likely use each one of the strategies at one point to achieve your marketing goals.
Inbound marketing formats
To implement inbound marketing strategies it is fundamental to understand what formats your strategies can take. The most common formats we find are:
- Blog posts. The content you post on your company’s blog plays a significant role in defining your company’s image across prospects and competition, and their quality can attract or lose customers. The more quality your content has, it increases your chances to attract loyal customers. Your articles, ebooks and other written or video content must be carefully written based on the SEO analyses and audience research. As a business, you must follow the interests and needs of your audience to provide all the necessary information to influence their purchasing decision.
- Custom emails. Once you have gathered more information and contacts from your content efforts it is time to guide your audience to the next step. Via emails marketing campaigns you can nurture your subscribers and warm them to keep them engaged with your brand. You must ensure the recipients of your emails are interested in your content for a mailing campaign to become successful.
- Search Engine Optimization. SEO has a dominant role when it comes to defining your digital promotion strategy. It influences the position your website, blogs and social media accounts are going to have. Take into account that 80% of those who perform a search using google do not go further than the first page.
- Display Advertising. As advertisers collect data across multiple external websites about a users’ online activity, they can create a detailed picture of the users’ interests to deliver even more targeted advertising. This aggregation of data is called behavioural targeting. You can achieve more information about your users and prepare customized ads campaigns.
- Social Media Marketing. Social networks are a great tool to share and distribute your content, establish thought leadership and create brand awareness. Did you know that 79% of the consumers they like or follow brands online to get more information? What are you waiting to hop on the social media wave? Select carefully the platforms your audience frequently visits and start the conversation.
Inbound vs outbound marketing
When people think about marketing, often they tend to associate it with outbound marketing. This is a strategy that tends to push people towards a product or a service, while inbound marketing is meant to win the target’s audience interest via educational and appealing content.
Outbound marketing promotes products and service directly to the target audience. This has been perceived by many as an invasive form of marketing. No wonder outbound marketing is decreasing in popularity. Nowadays users are more informed than ever and they want to be given the power and information to take that decision by themselves. We do not say is not a correct way of doing marketing, but it needs to be thoroughly thought before implementing an outbound approach.
As we mentioned in the what is inbound marketing section, inbound aims at adapting and communication to the needs of the customer. For that reason, its efficiency has increased over the past years. The reason is simple, it allows better targeting and better communication. With inbound marketing, we do not push people towards us. On the contrary, we provide them with all the resources to make good and informed decisions.
Consumer behaviour has changed, and we are experiencing an era of a massive shift from traditional marketing to purely online networking and inbound marketing strategies to attract qualified leads.
Research shows that 86% of people skip television ads, and 44% of direct mail is never opened. In addition, 84% of 25-to-34-year-olds have left a favourite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising”.
Moreover, “the total democratization of media, the total addressability of marketing communications have made it possible for individuals to express their own free choice for every product and service they want to buy. The control over the consumption of media is an empowering of a new world, where is possible the transition from TV to online, from mass media to micro media, from mass marketing to permission marketing”.
What are you waiting to invest in your online marketing strategies?