Is inbound marketing the way to go to attract customers and generate leads for my business? How is it different from what I am doing now? How much more value can inbound marketing add to my businesses? How to get on board with the inbound marketing methods that best suits my business?
These are mostly the questions that pop up in your mind when you hear about the formidable marketing technique – Inbound marketing.
Let’s begin unraveling all facets that there are, to inbounding marketing to understand what is in store for you when you embark on this marketing journey.
The journey so far –
Inbound marketing is the focus of businesses that are operating in the digital marketplace today. However, in the past, the online business scenario has witnessed companies shifting from outbound methods of marketing that involves pursuing prospects, to inbound methods which involve attracting prospects to convert and sell. The transition that took root in the mid-18th century has progressed to the extent that over 61% of marketers are embracing inbound marketing to progress their business.
Inbound marketing is all about delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time. Hence, businesses are incorporating inbound techniques in their marketing strategy by carrying content with the highest level of personalization to attract customers as it is known to play a pivotal part in generating appreciable profits. The very many options available at their disposal, businesses began exploring and leveraging social media, emails, and optimization to gain the inbound traction they desired.
For example, Di Bella Coffee is a coffee company that has opened coffee outlets across the globe. To make their presence felt online, Di Bella Coffee started a social media campaign on four platforms by using numerous hashtags. As a result, they gained the footfalls they desired in the existing as well as new stores. The outlet is using a social distancing hashtag due to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
If you are still wondering if inbound marketing is effective or not, read on.
Why consider opting for inbound marketing?
As seen in the example cited above, inbound marketing uses strategies on various platforms to first attract the customers, thereafter engage them, and finally compel them to give you the desired business.
In addition to the basic framework that attracts customers to your doorstep, inbound marketing is also –
- Cost-effective: The first thing you think before getting on board with a marketing strategy is if you can afford it. With inbound marketing, you incur 62% less cost when compared to traditional marketing due to free tools and options to automate. In addition to spending less, you can also enjoy three times more lead generation, making inbound the preferred marketing method even for startups and small businesses.
- Rapid growth: Inbound marketing gives you the possibility to generate unlimited leads with fewer resources (time, money) by using the internet to your advantage. With this, you can grow your business by rapidly generating sales and as a result, revenue.
- Better ROI: As a result of incurring a lower cost, you have the chance to enjoy a higher return on investment. The process of putting to play such a marketing strategy will also gain you insights on customer behavior which you can use to make informed decisions in the future. Statistics show that 53% of the marketers who have used inbound marketing methods have earned higher ROI, as opposed to outbound marketers who have earned just 16%.
- Enhanced brand value: The inconvenience caused by outbound’s direct marketing is turning customers to explore and find new options which will give them maximum control. By aligning your online presence to what your customers are searching for, you can enhance your brand value in the eyes of your prospects.
What can inbound marketing do for you?
In addition to the above-listed irrefutable core benefits, inbound marketing also helps you to –
- Gain higher visibility
- Reach your precise target audience at the right time
- Target your audience with personalized content
- Build trust and credibility by using automation
- Measure customer interaction and engagement to adjust the current strategy.
How to use inbound marketing to advance business?
Inbound marketing is merely a broad term that encompasses numerous marketing tactics that you can use to attract potential customers to your website.
Here are a few inbound marketing tactics for you to consider –
1. Company blog:
Creating a blog for your business and publishing posts that carry content created by keeping the customer in mind is one of the most effective inbound tactics you can use. You can offer free content that addresses your prospects’ needs and pain points in addition to using it as a segue to educate them about your brand and offering. When you blog consistently to give away free value to your customers, you will gain by generating traffic that will bring in leads for you to pursue. Statistics back this tactic by citing that 82% of marketers who utilize blogs for inbound marketing record positive ROI, making blogging an inbound marketing priority.
Some of the company blogs that started as part of an inbound marketing strategy have now grown to be full-fledged publication viz., HubSpot, DigitalMarketer, Kuno Creative, Moz, Problogger, among many others.
An example of a business that engaged in blogging as an inbound marketing tactic is Groove, a productivity app. Groove blog carries data-driven, conversational posts with lots of pictures, graphs, and charts that are related to the app.
Here are a few points to keep in mind while using blogs for inbound marketing:
- Keep your target audience in mind.
- Upload posts that are related to your business without being salesy.
- Upload high-quality posts consistently.
- Ensure that the blog size is around 800-1000 words.
- Include the CTA that suggests the readers subscribe via email.
Why should you use company blogs to generate inbound traffic?
Some compelling reason include –
- It will gain you great visibility in the search ranking for free.
- It can help you nurture and strengthen your relationship with your existing and potential customers.
- It can help you establish yourself as an industry expert through thought leadership.
- It can help your prospects relate to your brand and promotes social sharing.
- It will create/enhance your brand image.
Although written content is a great customer engagement tactic, many prospects prefer a quicker and more visual option to consume content. If your target audience predominantly falls in this category, it is best to opt for a visual means to engage and update your prospects. Infographics are suitable for prospects who wish to consume a snapshot of data, presented in a comprehensive format for quick consumption.
Barclaycard, a finance brand, is an example of a company that effectively uses infographics to engage its existing as well as potential customers as a part of its full-funnel content marketing strategy.
Taco Bell also has made use of an infographic to tell its evolution story.
Why use infographics to generate inbound traffic?
Infographics can generate numerous benefits if you should choose to use them to generate inbound leads.
- They are compelling content that has great potential to convert.
- They are quick to consume and easy to understand allowing you to convey your message effectively even when your prospects are on the go.
- They bring you great recall value.
- They help you to connect with your audience as they do not carry a sales pitch.
- They can help plan future marketing campaigns as their performance is easy to track and measure.
3. Search Engine Optimization:
You may carry great content on your website – blogs, infographics, videos, among others. However, if you are unable to attract your audience to view the valuable content you have created for them, the entire exercise will yield no benefit.
SEO is the best way to get your potential customers to your website by making your website rank higher in the search results. There are several ways for you to make the most of SEO as an inbound marketing tactic, two of the most popular ways are –
- SEO and content marketing:
Incorporate SEO methods while generating content (blogs, articles, whitepapers, product listings), by keeping in mind the following points:
- Get the right set of keywords relevant to your campaign.
- Write in a conversational style to engage the reader.
- Effectively use keywords in the main title, sub-title, headings, sub-headings.
- Write longer content pieces as search engines love more content.
- Upload/update your posts frequently to keep your content relevant and also, rank higher in searches.
- SEO and social media marketing:
Incorporate SEO methods in your social media strategy to gain the traction you need to attract prospects. Here are a few points to remember while integrating the two inbound marketing strategies:
- Develop a local focus first by updating your location, posting local events, and also following other local businesses.
- Focus on increasing your followers by engaging in conversation with your audience, share useful content, and collaborate with other businesses.
- Use hashtags and tag influencers who are relevant to your business to gain the right attention on social platforms.
One company that has got their SEO strategy on point to attract inbound leads is Chewy, a pet supplies retailer. Chewy has gained the traction they need by showing up explicitly in search results by including strong product descriptions resulting in greater visibility in the search results.
Yet another example of SAP Hybris who started a blog by leveraging best SEO practices which in turn powered more business for the company. The company dedicated an entire team to focus solely on generating high-quality content to attract customers by creating value for them without being salesy.
Why use search engine optimization to generate inbound traffic?
SEO is the most sought out inbound marketing tactic that the majority of marketers opt for. Some reasons for this preference include –
- SEO generates high-quality convertible leads for you to pursue and convert.
- You can gain Google organic ranking without having to pay for ads by just giving the best response to search queries.
- SEO, when done rightly, can set you apart and even get ahead of your competitors.
- Integrating SEO with other inbound marketing methods such as social media can help you gain a wider reach.
If you are looking are creating a brand image that is more accessible and tangible, webinars are the way to go. Records state that 60% of marketers use webinars to promote their brand and associated content. Well- planned and executed webinars have witnessed a 19% conversion rate, making it one of the viable inbound marketing methods.
With webinars, your prospects will get a good idea about what your brand is and what you intend to accomplish in an easy and interactive way. It is one of the most engaging and personal inbound marketing options at your disposal.
Here are a few points to keep in mind while engaging the audience with webinars
- Choose a topic that is sure to engage your audience.
- Spread the news about the upcoming webinars on all your networks to garner a good response.
- Promote your webinars (before and after you are live) by using hashtags and focus keywords.
- Consolidate all your past webinars and present them to your audience as a consolidated resource to watch at their own pace.
Hootsuite is an excellent example of inbound marketing via webinars. The company has been using webinars to deliver value to its audience while giving them a feel of who they are and what they have to offer.
Why should you use webinars to generate inbound traffic?
Webinars have the potential to capture leads instantaneously.
- You get a chance to directly engage with your prospects.
- It is a cost-effective option to drive large scale lead generation.
- You can impart your message irrespective of how long it is by conveying the webinar’s duration.
In the year 2017 alone, marketers have sent out inbound emails that total to a whopping 269 billion. Also, records state that number of email accounts that existed in 2019 is three times the number of Facebook and Twitter put together. What does this say about email marketing to you? – It is effective and practiced widely.
Although emails may seem as an outbound marketing tactic, it need not be. In inbound marketing, prospects opt-in to receive your emails. Getting your prospects to opt-in to receive your email is a critical part of this entire process.
How to an email marketing strategy to generate inbound leads?
The first step is to set a clear goal that you wish to achieve by implementing the email marketing strategy. Only then you can join the 50% of marketers’ league who profess that email is their biggest source of ROI. Thereafter, you can follow the below-listed steps –
- Build an email list: Although there are several ways to get your prospects to opt-in, the following 3 are most effective.
- Deliver valuable content through blogging and provide an option for your prospects to subscribe by sharing their email.
- Provide a lead magnet, i.e., offer valuable content that is downloadable (such as an ebook) in exchange for your prospects’ email address.
- Encourage your prospects to subscribe to get newsletters with valuable insights into their inbox.
- Create your campaign:
- Use an email builder that can help you create and run a successful campaign.
- Ensure that you send highly personalized emails to your subscribers as they are known to deliver 6 times higher transaction rates.
- The subject to your email must guarantee a click-through.
- Your email should be easy to read.
- Carry photos and compelling content in the body of your email to hold the subscribers’ interest.
- Ensure that the email carries the essence of your brand.
- Include a call to action in the right place.
- Decide the time and frequency at which you can schedule your email delivery based on your subscribers’ list.
- Measure the performance of your campaign:
Knowing the open-rate, shares, spam complaints, among others, will help you fine-tune your campaign to derive maximum results.
Why use email to generate inbound traffic?
- With email marketing, you can segment your market and target a specific audience.
- It is cost-effective but generates good results.
- You can witness quick results with email marketing.
- It is measurable and thus, the insights can help you to plan and execute future campaigns more effectively.
Social Print Studio is an apt example of inbound email marketing. The digital photo printing service shares emails with offers, discount codes, and other promotional deals for their subscribers to avail.
Yet another example is G2, a peer-to-peer review site, that shares email newsletters to their subscribers informing them about product launches, company updates, among others.
6. Social Media:
If customer engagement is your goal, then no other marketing method can achieve it for you link social media can. You can use social media to engage with your audience and have relatively lighter interactions beyond your company blog.
Which social media platform to choose for audience engagement?
This question needs an answer before you start your social marketing campaign to generate inbound leads. The simple solution here is to find the platforms on which your customers are active on. Once identified, you can go ahead and create an account on that platform to engage your customers. It also depends on the type of content you intend to share. If you want to share content that is mostly pictures, get on Instagram, or if you want to create a community and interact thereon, you can choose Facebook. You can also choose to connect with your prospect on more that one platform if that serves your purpose.
For example, Taco Bell, a fast-food restaurant chain, witnessed an increase in footfalls as well as recorded 224 million views on Snapchat by executing an integrated inbound strategy comprising of blogging and social media.
Statistics cite that 27% on internet time (in the US alone) and 15% of mobile internet time goes on viewing social media sites. Hence, it makes sense for you to leverage this marketing tactic in your favor.
How to set up a social media campaign to attract leads?
Here are a few steps to help you start –
- Identify platforms your prospects are active on and set up accounts on these platforms.
- Attract your prospect by posting content on your feed that your prospects will want to read.
- Interact with your followers and establish a rapport thereby leading to a long-term relationship.
- Carry social ads to attract your followers to your site.
- Strive to convert your followers into potential customers.
Why use social media to generate inbound traffic?
Although there are numerous reasons for you to consider leveraging social media to generate leads, here are a few compelling ones you cannot miss –
- You can reach a larger audience by using one or more social media platforms.
- You can join these platforms for free.
- You can connect directly with your audience.
- You have the option to put up organic, owned, as well as paid content to attract your audience.
- You can create and enhance your brand image.
- You can redirect your followers to visit your website, thereby, drive traffic to your site.
Yet another example of a restaurant gaining success as a result of using inbound marketing is the ingredient and recipe meal kit service, Plated. Plated also used content marketing (blogs) and social platforms (Twitter and Instagram) to attract customers to taste their service and share their experience on their social circles.
Now that we have looked at the benefits of inbound marketing and its core strategies that you can consider for your business, let’s also look at the challenges it entails to get an overall idea.
- Although inbound marketing is great for businesses, the process of transitioning can be grueling.
How to overcome?
You can overcome this transition grind by learning, planning, and preparing for the change well in advance. You can also engage the services of an inbound marketing agency or a consultant to help you in your endeavor.
- Inbound strategies take time to yield results.
How to overcome?
It is true, like all good things inbound strategies also tend to take some time before you can see the results you desire. However, if you plan, choose, and get on board with one strategy at a time. For instance, you can start by making your presence felt on social media and meanwhile, ready your website to receive the referral traffic.
- It requires a long-term commitment.
How to overcome?
The link building, consistent posting, and website updates are all ongoing inbound activities that you will have to keep pace. But it is totally worthwhile, as the benefits you will derive will outweigh the challenges you face.
What’s the best way to approach inbound marketing transition?
You can partner with a skilled inbound marketing company and have them deal with the formidable tasks that involve planning, choosing strategies that best suits you, and transitioning. Hiring a team may cost you, but it is better than dealing with the process on your own. You will see the progress of your business in making as a result of inbound strategies in a span of 6 -12 months.
The bottom line:
After looking at all what inbound marketing encompasses, we can say that inbound marketing is no cake-walk. However, the results that you will enjoy post the successful transition will make the hard work worthwhile.
If done right, you can most-assuredly look forward to reaping the benefits of personalization that inbound strategies allow you to harness. Although you can embark on the inbound journey on your own, it is advisable to work with a professional consultant or an agency that possesses prowess in this area.
Get yourself geared to gain more visibility in searches, earn higher ROI, build an unmovable brand name, and expand your business, by choosing to adopt inbound marketing to generate leads.