As a business owner, you have a lot of goals: building a reputation for trust and honesty within your community, getting more customers to visit your website or your brick and mortar store, generating qualified leads for your sales reps, and delivering outstanding customer service, among others. But all of those goals are secondary to your primary goal: growing your business and increasing profits.
The question is, how do you best spend your marketing dollars to achieve that goal? In the past, you might have used direct mail, had sales reps make cold calls and posted ads in newspapers and on local television. If those strategies aren’t working as well as they used to, there’s a reason. Consumers have changed.
For most consumers, every day means more ads filling their mailboxes and inboxes, more calls from pesky telemarketers, and scores of TV ads—and frankly, they're tired of it. Today, more than 90% of consumers either turn down the volume or fast forward through television commercials. To avoid telemarketers, more than 200 million Americans have put themselves on a do-not-call list.
That doesn’t mean consumers have stopped buying, only that they’re not as willing as they once were to buy from companies they don’t yet know and trust. That’s where inbound marketing comes in.
It’s About Building Trust
To accommodate this change in consumer behavior, inbound marketing pulls prospective customers in—with strategies like search engine optimization, content marketing and social sharing—instead of pushing out sales pitches to consumers who fundamentally don’t believe or trust them. For inbound marketers, sales is a process, one in which trust is established and reinforced with information that helps and educates consumers at each new stage of buying journey.
What Is Inbound Marketing, and Does It Work?
Hubspot gives a succinct, useful definition of inbound marketing:
“Inbound marketing is an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive…By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, inbound marketing attracts qualified prospects and builds trust and credibility for your business.”
Those strategies work better than outbound strategies, generating qualified leads for 62% less money, for example, and boosting sales for B2B and B2C businesses on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
How to Make Inbound Marketing Work for Your Business
Inbound marketing uses a simple 4-part formula to turn strangers into customers and, eventually, into loyal, repeat customers:
- Attract prospective customers to your website with useful content, social media sharing, search engine optimization and PPC ads;
- Convert them into qualified leads with online forms, calls-to=action and customized landing pages;
- Close the sale with CRM and email marketing; and
- Delight them with surveys and smart content.
That said, here are 4 specific steps you can take to create A Powerful Inbound Marketing Strategy.
1. Optimize Your Website
From the outset, it’s important to understand that search engine optimization (SEO) is not for beginners or a DIY project. For one thing, it requires the specialized experience to write the kinds of headers, meta tags, titles and descriptions which search engine spiders like enough to give your website a strong search engine ranking.
For another, search engines like Google are continually changing the algorithms they use to rank your website. Google, to cite one example, recently launched its mobile-first indexing of websites, which gives priority to the mobile version of your website. Sites which aren’t effectively optimized for mobile devices will pay a price with lower search engine rankings. The bottom line is that optimizing your website is best done by a competent digital marketing agency with deep knowledge about SEO.
2. Embrace Content Marketing
Imagine the following scenario: you’re a consumer searching online for a new washing machine. You enter “buy new washing machine” into Google, see a relevant link, click on it and go to a page with pictures and prices for 37 washing machines and a brief, not very helpful description of each.
You go back to search results and click on another link. This one takes you to a page with washing machines, but also informative articles, like “Don’t Pay More than You Have to for Your New Washing Machine,” and “How to Find the Best Washing Machine to Suit Your Needs.” Which site will you stay on? Which company will you trust more? Which company are you more likely to buy from?
This is the essence of content marketing. Today, consumers read 3 to 5 pieces of content before they’ll even speak with a sales rep. Giving prospective customers informative content they can use builds trust and increases sales.
3. Leverage Social Media
About 70% of marketers in Hubspot’s survey reported a substantial increase in leads by spending only 6 hours a week on social media sites, especially Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. It’s important to post on sites most relevant to your business—for example, LinkedIn, which attracts other businesses, might be better for B2B companies, while B2C companies might spend more time on Facebook. Whatever site you choose, you need to identify your target audience there, share content that’s relevant to their needs, and integrate social media strategy with other aspects of your online presence.
4. Measure Results for Continual Improvement
You need to begin with a plan that includes clear and measurable goals. Using advanced web analytics, you can monitor your progress in meeting those goals, identify what’s working and what isn’t, fine-tune buyer personas, size up your competition, and make the necessary tweaks to improve your performance and achieve your goals.
Every year, Hubspot publishes a report summarizing the experience of more than 4,000 marketers across 5 continents and multiple industries. The most recent, The State of Inbound 2016, indicates that 81% of marketers at companies which rely on inbound strategies consider their efforts “highly effective” compared to just 18% of those whose primary strategies are outbound.
Inbound strategies just make more sense, and they work better. To learn more about the ways a leading digital marketing agency can help you achieve your goals with inbound strategies, contact us today.