In an increasingly digital world where the average person spends nearly 9 hours per day on digital devices, it’s essential for small businesses to have some form of digital strategy. Furthermore, with 81% of people researching online before buying, the need for inbound marketing is paramount.
So what is inbound marketing and how does it differ to digital marketing?
Digital Marketing refers to the marketing of any product or services via digital channels such as search engines, social media, emails, mobile apps, and websites. The emphasis is on getting your message out to as many people as possible in a push style approach.
Inbound marketing is focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content and adding value at every stage in your customer’s buying journey. Whilst potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media, unlike digital marketing, inbound marketing does not need to fight for potential customer’s attention. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, you can attract qualified prospects and build trust and credibility for your business.
Here, we explore a few key areas of inbound marketing:
Good content is personalised, meaning it’s a close fit to the needs of the people reading it. This can range from a carefully curated email list, to changing web pages dynamically to suit the visitor.
To personalise content, you first need to create a solid set of personas to mold your marketing efforts around. Persona creation is an in-depth process, but the Buyer Persona Institute centers theirs on 5 key questions:
· What causes your clients to invest in products or services like yours?
· What do they expect to get out of their investment?
· What concerns or barriers would prevent them from using your product or services?
· What does their journey look like?
· Which aspects of your product or service does your client perceive as the most important?
With answers for these questions for every type of customer, you will be able to craft content that demonstrates the benefits of your products and services for every persona.
When you know exactly who you’re talking to, your content production becomes a more manageable task. The information you need to give your customers has been clarified by your personas, but the format of your information needs some thought.
Blog content is the classic inbound marketing approach, and for good reason. It’s a huge boost to SEO, establishes you as an authority, and gives an opportunity to answer questions from prospective customers at the same time.
It also provides another way for people to discover you on social media as your content is shared, as well as driving new traffic from search engines. Research from HubSpot shows that even companies who blog only once or twice a month generate up to 70% more leads than those that don’t.
Video content is increasingly popular, with YouTube and Facebook Video being the content distribution channels used by most marketers. Customers who view a video are almost twice as likely to buy than non-viewers, and video on a landing page can increase conversion by 80%. It’s therefore no surprise that more marketers are looking to include it in their strategy.
Landing pages are essential inbound marketing tools, and when you’re talking to a range of distinct personas, can help keep the customer journey seamless. Directing your audience to a landing page designed for them creates a smoother customer journey and also gives distinct offers a place to live. It also gives you data about which audience is most engaged, and which campaign is most effective.
High performing landing pages get straight to the point, are uncluttered, and offer social proof where appropriate. The most effective landing pages do one job, as pages with multiple offers generate 266% fewer leads than pages with a single offer.
Social media is a fantastic inbound tool and provides an opportunity to interact on a more personal level with potential customers, rather than using it as a broadcast channel. Facebook, Instagram and Messenger are among the top 5 apps and Facebook is the third most visited site in the world, after YouTube and Google.
An active social media profile can make a business appear more professional and trustworthy. They key is to communicate regularly with useful information targeted at those people who closely match your personas.
By 2019, it has been predicted that 80% of all Internet traffic will be videos, so visual (and in particular video) content is a necessity, as this type of content is more than 40 times more likely to be shared on social media than any other kind. Keep your videos short, (60-90 seconds), relevant to your audience and upload them direct to the individual platforms.
Social media is a great tool for customer interaction and can be a great source of user-generated content to use as social proof for a super effective landing page.
Inbound marketing is a growing segment of digital marketing and executed correctly can turn website visitors, contacts and strangers into qualified leads and happy customers. Organisations that focus on inbound marketing are 4 times more likely to rate their marketing strategy highly, making it a strong tactic to add to your marketing plan. The most important thing is that no matter which aspects of inbound marketing you choose to incorporate into your strategy, ensure that they’re integrated sufficiently to create an outstanding customer journey.