Think Your Business is Too Small for Inbound Marketing? Think Again
One particularly damaging myth that is hurting businesses everywhere, is how inbound marketing is strictly for the realm of large businesses with an established consumer base. In reality, small business inbound marketing is vital for creating a strong user base for your product or service.
What is Inbound Marketing?
- If you could have a frank discussion with your consumers, exchanging information about their needs for advice and advocacy, would you jump at the opportunity?
- Inbound marketing makes this a reality. By starting conversations with consumers, you can win their loyalty and advocacy, creating a mutually beneficial relationship. This strategy builds and engages your fan base more efficiently than traditional advertising.
- Common inbound marketing techniques include SEO, social media conversations and content marketing. All of these techniques have their place as long as you understand your marketing objectives.
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Inbound and outbound marketing are very different techniques with very different aims.
- Outbound marketing focuses on talking to your consumers. Common outbound marketing strategies include television, radio and print ads, as well as tradeshow visits and cold calls. In outbound marketing, you are seeking out consumers and delivering them your message.On the other hand, inbound marketing focuses on starting conversations with your consumers.
- Inbound marketing is not a one-way street. Whether you are conversing with consumers on social media, communicating helpful information through a blog or teaching users through an infographic, inbound marketing creates incentive for consumers to talk back and share.
How Inbound Marketing Helps Small Businesses
- Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your business isn’t big enough to need inbound marketing.
- Even if you are just starting out, small business inbound marketing can help you in a number of ways.
Saving on Marketing Costs
- Inbound marketing is one of the most inexpensive ways to promote your business. Starting a conversation on Twitter or writing a blog post costs only the time it takes to type out your thoughts.
- Techniques like these are important because they open up new marketing strategies for companies that may not have the budget for traditional advertising. For a small business, inbound marketing can be the best way to build an audience from nothing.
- Of course there are platforms such as Hootsuite and Moz which help with social analytics and SEO, respectively, and those platforms do cost money. Luckily, the benefits of strong inbound marketing far outweigh the costs of intelligence platforms, and these services are in no way necessary to start inbound marketing.
Engaging with Consumers
At its core, inbound marketing is personal. That’s the reason it connects with consumers, and that’s the reason it can be so powerful. When you ask questions on Twitter or provide helpful advice on your blog, you are prompting users to engage directly with your business. This strategy eliminates the cold, impersonal feeling of paid advertisements, and lets you focus on individual consumers and their needs.
Creating Brand Advocates
Having productive online conversations is a great way to create brand advocates. If consumers feel like you offer content that directly benefits them in some way, they will be more likely to share that content with friends and coworkers.
Inbound Marketing Strategies
The internet provides many simple ways for a small business to do inbound marketing. Keep in mind that consistency is key with all strategies of marketing. Consumers like to see that your business is actively participating in the larger online conversation.
Create Share-Worthy Content
Content marketing is the top of the conversion funnel when it comes to inbound strategies. Whether you are writing blogs, creating infographics or uploading videos, your content should provide unique value to the consumers who engage with it.
With inbound marketing, your strategy is not just to draw users to your page. Instead, you want to engage those users once they arrive, and provide helpful advice that they won’t find anywhere else.
Increase Your Social Media Presence
- Creating unique content is a great way to incentivize consumers to share your ideas on social media. If your blog or video channel provides unique insights in your field, social users will already have reason to pass your content around.
- From there, it’s simply a matter of engaging with your users.
- Did consumers enjoy your content? Why or why not?
- Maybe another agency has shared your advice? Thank them and give a shout-out in your own feed.
Tighten Up Your On-Page SEO
Going over your existing content to optimize it for better search engine performance is a good way to start your inbound marketing efforts. Consumers who find your content through organic search will be more likely to engage with it, because they are already seeking out content just like yours.
WHAT IS INBOUND MARKETING?
Inbound marketing is an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful — not interruptive. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media — unlike outbound marketing, which fights for their attention. 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.
The Inbound Marketing Methodology
The best way to turn strangers into customers and promoters of your business.
The Proven Methodology for the Digital Age
Since 2006, inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.
How to Interpret the Graphic
Along the top are the four actions (Attract, Convert, Close, Delight) inbound companies must take in order to obtain visitors, leads, customers, and promoters. Along the bottom are the tools companies use to accomplish these actions. (Note the tools are listed under the action where they first come into play, but that’s not the only place they’re applicable! Several tools, like email, can be essential in several stages of the methodology.)
Major Themes in Inbound Marketing
Content Creation + Distribution
Create targeted content that answers prospects’ and customers’ basic questions and needs, then share that content far and wide.
Promoters don’t just materialize out of thin air: they start off as strangers, visitors, contacts, and customers. Specific marketing actions and tools help to transform those strangers into promoters.
Tailor your content to the wants and needs of the people who are viewing it. As you learn more about your leads over time, you can better personalize your messages to their specific needs.
Inbound marketing is multi-channel by nature because it approaches people where they are, in the channel where they want to interact with you.
Content creation, publishing and analytics tools all work together like a well-oiled machine – allowing you to focus on publishing the right content in the right place at the right time.
Make Marketing People Love
By publishing the right content in the right place at the right time, your marketing becomes relevant and helpful to your customers, not interruptive. Now that’s marketing people can love.
The Four Inbound Marketing Actions
We don’t want just any traffic to our site, we want the right traffic. We want the people who are most likely to become leads, and, ultimately, happy customers. Who are the “right” people? Our ideal customers, also known as our buyer personas. Buyer personas are holistic ideals of what your customers are really like, inside and out. Personas encompass the goals, challenges, pain points, common objections to products and services, as well as personal and demographic information shared among all members of that particular customer type. Your personas are the people around whom your whole business is built.
Some of the most important tools to attract the right users to your site are:
Blogging. Inbound marketing starts with blogging. A blog is the single best way to attract new visitors to your website. In order to get found by the right prospective customers, you must create educational content that speaks to them and answers their questions.
SEO. Your customers begin their buying process online, usually by using a search engine to find something they have questions about. So, you need to make sure you’re appearing prominently when and where they search. To do that, you need to carefully, analytically pick keywords, optimize your pages, create content, and build links around the terms your ideal buyers are searching for.
Pages. Your website pages are your digital storefront. So put your best face forward! Optimize your website to appeal to your ideal buyers and transform your website into a beacon of helpful content to entice the right strangers to visit your pages.
Social Publishing. Successful inbound strategies are all about remarkable content – and social publishing allows you to share that valuable information on the social web, engage with your prospects, and put a human face on your brand. Interact on the networks where your ideal buyers spend their time.
Once you’ve attracted website visitors, the next step is to convert those visitors into leads by gathering their contact information. At the very least, you’ll need their email addresses. Contact information is the most valuable currency there is to the online marketer. So in order for your visitors to offer up that currency willingly, you need to offer them something in return! That “payment” comes in the form of content, like eBooks, whitepapers, or tip sheets – whatever information would be interesting and valuable to each of your personas.
Some of the most important tools in converting visitors to leads include:
Forms. In order for visitors to become leads, they must fill out a form and submit their information. Optimize your form to make this step of the conversion process as easy as possible.
Calls-to-Action. Calls-to-action are buttons or links that encourage your visitors to take action, like “Download a Whitepaper” or “Attend a Webinar.” If you don’t have enough calls-to-action or your calls-to-action aren’t enticing enough, you won’t generate leads.
Landing Pages. When a website visitor clicks on a call-to-action, they should then be sent to a landing page. A landing page is where the offer in the call-to-action is fulfilled, and where the prospect submits information that your sales team can use to begin a conversation with them. When website visitors fill out a form on a landing page for the first time, that visitor becomes a contact.
Contacts. Keep track of the leads you’re converting in a centralized marketing database. Having all your data in one place helps you make sense out of every interaction you’ve had with your contacts – be it through email, a landing page, social media, or otherwise – and how to optimize your future interactions to more effectively attract, convert, close, and delight your buyer personas.
You’re on the right track. You’ve attracted the right visitors and converted the right leads, but now you need to transform those leads into customers. How can you most effectively accomplish this feat? Certain marketing tools can be used at this stage to make sure you’re closing the right leads at the right times.
Closing tools include:
CRM. Keep track of the details about all the contacts, companies, and deals in your pipeline, and easily get in touch with the right prospects at the right time. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems facilitate sales by making sure you have the right information at your fingertips to better engage with prospects across every channel.
Closed-loop Reporting. How do you know which marketing efforts are bringing in the best leads? Is your sales team effectively closing those best leads into customers? Integration with your CRM system allows you to analyze just how well your marketing and sales teams are playing together.
Email. What do you do if a visitor clicks on your call-to-action, fills out a landing page, or downloads your whitepaper, but still isn’t ready to become a customer? A series of emails focused on useful, relevant content can build trust with a prospect and help them become more ready to buy.
Marketing Automation. This process involves creating email marketing and lead nurturing tailored to the needs and lifecycle stage of each lead. For example, if a visitor downloaded a whitepaper on a certain topic from you in the past, you might want to send that lead a series of related emails. But if they follow you on Twitter and visited certain pages on your website, you might want to change the messaging to reflect those different interests.
The Inbound way is all about providing remarkable content to our users, whether they be visitors, leads, or existing customers. Just because someone has already written you a check doesn’t mean you can forget about them! Inbound companies continue to engage with, delight, and (hopefully) upsell their current customer base into happy promoters of the organizations and products they love.
Tools used to delight customers include:
Surveys. The best way to figure out what your users want is by asking them. Use feedback and surveys to ensure you’re providing customers with what they’re looking for.
Smart Calls-to-Action. These present different users with offers that change based on buyer persona and lifecycle stage.
Smart Text. Provide your existing customers with remarkable content tailored to their interests and challenges. Help them achieve their own goals, as well as introduce new products and features that might be of interest to them.
Social Monitoring. Keep track of the social conversations that matter to you most. Listen out for your customers’ questions, comments, likes, and dislikes – and reach out to them with relevant content.
Thanks Business2Community, HubSpot and for reading Inbound Marketing
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