Marketing can sometimes be a confusing area for businesses to undertake. With all the different methodologies and techniques being offered to businesses and entrepreneurs, it is absolutely crucial to save time and money by focusing on what works for the digital age. Perhaps you’ve heard the term inbound marketing and wondered how it can affect your business model. In this article, we’ll show you why every business can benefit from inbound marketing.
What is Inbound Marketing?
First, let’s define exactly what this type of marketing is. Simply put, inbound marketing is the process of promoting your business using digital content to attract customers to purchase your products and services. The digital content you can use to facilitate this process can be blogs, video, ebooks, webpages, enewsletter, podcasts, SEO, whitepapers, social media, and any other form that’s available.
Why Do You Need Inbound Marketing?
This may be obvious to some, but you may already be using inbound marketing for your business. To others, especially older forms of established business (check out our “Inbound Vs. Outbound Marketing” Article), inbound marketing might be considered “things you find on the internet.” This explanation is valid, but the key word we’re looking at here is “find.” Inbound marketing allows your customers to “find” your company, exploring the various parts of content that you’ve uploaded to the internet that ultimately persuades the consumer to become your customer. And something that all businesses, new and old, can agree on is more customers.
How Do I Implement Inbound Marketing for My Business?
One of the first things that all inbound marketing revolves around is a fine-tuned website. Without inbound marketing, customers won’t know you “exist” in the digital realm. Having the digital infrastructure of a web presence in place allows the curious customer to investigate your business and the various facets on their own time. Some of the first (and last) impressions customers will have of your brand and your products/services is done simply by viewing your website.
Much like a brick-and-mortar business model that you may or may not have, website must reflect your business, accommodate the customer, and convey the message that reaches your target audience. For instance, if you went to a doctor’s office, only to discover that that the interior resembled more of an automobile repair shop thick with the scent of cheap cigarettes, you’d be certain never to step foot in there again. Creating a dissonance with your customer’s expectations on your website is a surefire way to negate any other inbound marketing attempts you may make. Your potential customers will become someone else’s customers.
Your website should attract customers by accommodating them in every way that you can. Facilitate responsive-design on your website to work flawlessly across tablets, smartphones, and desktop computers. Make your website as intuitive as possible without having your customers have to poke around to find necessary information. Avoid having too many pop-ups or other distractions (ie. autoplay videos) that may upset more discriminating customers. Be sure to take a look at your competition’s website. What do they do right? What do they do wrong? Make a list of each and implement those changes.
If you’re looking for more insight on this topic, take a look at our article, “Creating a Website for Entrepreneurs”.
Inbound marketing’s key feature is the ability to automate tasks that otherwise would have taken valuable time away from other opportunities. Virtually any task that an entrepreneur faces can be automated, whether it’s social media posting on a schedule, to creating advertising campaigns on a recurring basis, be sure to investigate the number of options and apps available to you for small fees, or even available for free.
One of the primary advantages of inbound marketing is being able to track the effects of your campaigns by the hour, day, week, or whatever increment you set aside. Being able to access this information from anywhere, whether it’s a simple app on your smartphone/tablet or an indepth analysis on your desktop computer, gives the entrepreneur instant access and unprecedented insight to round-the-clock data and decision-making. Scaling your budget based on success or failure is key to saving your marketing budget. For tools to aid in tracking your inbound marketing campaigns, click here for a list of options. (http://www.business.com/mobile-apps-and-tools/14-tools-to-track-key-performance-indicators-for-your-business/)
Comments and Reviews
Create a system of online reputation. Much like word-of-mouth, numerous positive reviews and glowing customer testimonials creates a social proof that makes customers loyal evangelists to your brand. Dedicating a page on your website to positive, nuanced feedback, especially from all demographics of your target audience, can be enough to persuade those on the fence. Websites like Yelp, GoogleMaps, and many others offer customer reviews that can be imported directly to your site, creating a positive feedback loop that influences customers to believe in your brand.
Seek to create open dialogues with your customer base, offering a breath of fresh air to the olden ways of bureaucracy. An open line of communication, even for the lurkers, shows that your company is willing to bend to the customer’s demands—within reason, of course—and that you’re willing to listen to feedback, a rarity in today’s “noisy” digital landscape.
While you may be tempted to create faux reviews, don’t discount the intelligence of savvy customers who will see through your self-aggrandizing and associate desperation with your brand. Negative reviews are unavoidable, as your competition, trolls, and hard-to-satisfy clientele can easily post a smear campaign against your business. Instead, accentuate the positive to steer customers towards your brand. If you’re looking for positive reviews, try to offer incentives, like giveaways, in exchange for genuine feedback.
One of the most searched terms on search engines like Google is “how to” preceding any type of activity. If your company can offer insightful knowledge on topics, be sure to create content that reflects this knowledge. Blogs, videos, articles, and so forth that demonstrate expert knowledge to even the most mundane topics create a greater visibility to your website, offering real value to consumers that feel a genuine thankfulness for solving their inquiries. With your content, is it clearly conveyed that your products and services solve their problems? The more clearly you show your brand to be the direct link to finding an easy, elegant solution, the more your customers will associate you with lessening life’s difficulties. In short, the more quality content you have, the more people will visit your site and become customers.
Instead of creating your content piecemeal, devise a strategy of how much content you’ll be creating, when it will be released, and how often. With each wave of content, it portrays to the marketplace that your business is making huge strides in progress rather than the difficult-to-notice incremental momentum that just seems like “business as usual.” Furthermore, the various methods of inbound marketing are inherent in inbound marketing itself. For example, an SEO article can lead to an embedded video, which leads consumers to your website, and ultimately to making a purchase.
It’s important to have your content streamlined, ironing out inconsistencies through all forms that may contradict or confuse the customer on any number of issues, whether your bundled package has changed, your staff has grown, or mission statements have changed. Don’t be afraid to remove content that is outdated—constantly improve upon old designs and repeat what works. Think of your online content as a lawn. The longer you go without mowing it, the more it reflects poorly on your home and the traits of those inside of it. Regular maintenance is key.
The Cumulative Effect
With social media, email lists, and so forth, realize that your marketing is now cumulative, generating more and more leads with each successive piece of content. You are essentially adding another potential customer into your marketing reach with each new subscriber to your Youtube channel, Twitter feed, and Instagram account. Ask yourself, would you be more willing to trust a brand that has 1,000 followers or 10 followers? The answer is obvious. The added benefit is that as you progress with each subsequent follower, you are achieving more results with less effort, creating a higher return on investment without resources that can be spent elsewhere.
In conclusion, you owe it to your business to thrive by taking advantage of inbound marketing. The advantages are too numerous to deny. Best of all, your customers will be more than happy to thank you for making it easy.