It has been the case for almost 100 years now that if you wanted to drive people through your doors and dollars into your register, you had to launch some sort of outbound marketing campaign. This usually ranged from television commercials, radio commercials, billboards, flyers, newspaper ads, telemarketing, or snail mail. These methods have been extremely effective for a majority of those 100 years, however, there has been a recent changing of the guard. Due to the fact that outbound marketing became so prevalent in our everyday lives, consumers have become inundated by these outbound marketing methods to the point where they simply do not work as well as they once did. Think about it. Television commercials have fallen victim to TiVo, radio commercials have fallen victim to MP3 players and Pandora-like commercial free stations, flyers and newspaper ads have turned into pop-up ads on the internet (who even clicks on those anymore?), telemarketing has died due to caller ID, and snail mail has given way to email. On top of all these new innovations in technology, people themselves have become numb to any and all forms of advertising that interrupts them. This is why outbound marketing is frequently referred to as “interruption marketing” by a lot of marketing professionals today. It would go TO the consumer and interrupt their day. So how do you reach people if they are sick and tired of being interrupted to hear your message? Well, for starters, let’s stop interrupting them and give them reason to come TO you as opposed to you going TO them. How do you do this? You launch an inbound marketing strategy. We’ll show you how.
It has been said that content is the workhorse of any inbound marketing strategy, and your primary source of content will be blogging. Blogging is a great way to address your consumers and customers directly without interrupting their day. Think about how people research the products and services they buy these days. They get online, or they get on their mobile devices, and they Google what they are looking for to find information on it, reviews, and what other people are saying about it on social media. In other words, they are looking for ways to have their questions answered before they ever set foot inside a store or purchase online. Your blog is one of the best, if not THE best, way to answer these questions. Your basic goal with your blog is to provide answers to questions and solutions to problems. Once you have done this for a period of time, your website and blog visitors will start to build a trust with you and your brand and will be much more likely to buy from you in the future. Not only that, they will also be more likely to buy AGAIN from you in the future. Once you’ve developed a personal relationship with your visitors and customers, you find that a lot of your business will come from repeat customers.
So you have a blog, and your blog is AWESOME, but how do you get the word out? Social media is one of the best ways to promote your content while also maintaining the relationships you have built up with your customers over time. Simply posting your blog to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. pages will automatically create multiple channels in which people can find your content. In fact, you will be literally multiplying the amount of channels your company is accessible through. If you publish a blog to just Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you have already created 4 channels for people to view your content. They can find your content on Facebook, they can find it on Twitter, they can find it on LinkedIn, and they can find it on your website. Four channels equals four times the amount of people who can see your content.
Social media is also great at raising social awareness of your brand. Even without a blog, you can still promote your company through vivid imagery and catchy status updates that provide a purpose, but can also be fun and interesting too. Remember, you are on social media, so you are on other people’s personal turf; don’t overload them with information that is purely about you and your company. Give them tips on how to do something relating to your product or service, answer their questions through status updates, or simply post eye catching imagery that makes people go “Wow” and makes them want to share that visual content with their friends and family. By maintaining a strong social presence on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, you will automatically gain an edge over companies that aren’t. You will also be looked upon much more favorably by your fans and customers since they see that you are actively posting content everyday that benefits them.
SEO, or search engine optimization, is basically formatting your content so that it is easily found by seach engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing. When you write a blog, you will want to focus the blog so that it is centralized on a single topic. For example, THIS blog is about the concept of an inbound marketing strategy and how it can benefit your business. So I, as the writer, have to make sure that the focus keywords are in the correct places in the text and that the content is easily readable by both search engines as well as humans. Personally, I love using SEO by Yoast which allows you to designate a focus keyword and will alert you to the places you still need to place it. However, if you are using a CMS or COS outside of WordPress, you will need to research current SEO best practices to figure out the latest trends in SEO and the latest search algorithms that are affecting search.
Email is a great way to stay in touch with your customer base and alert them on your company’s latest trends and developments. One of the best ways to do this is through a company newsletter that you send out either weekly, biweekly, or monthly. It’s also great that customers and potential customers have to somehow opt-in to your email marketing campaign, so they’ve already made it clear to you that they are interested in receiving future information from you, especially when it contains deals and discounts. People LOVE deals and discounts. Also keep in mind that email open rates are about 20% on average, so you will want to make sure your email’s subject line is eye catching and makes people want to open your email. A great way to do this is by including the single most interesting part of your email in the subject line. This can be a startling fact, breaking company news, or (you guessed it) a deal or discount.
Landing Pages and Calls-to-Action
Landing pages and calls-to-action (CTAs) are how you organize all of your content and direct your traffic to that content. CTAs are buttons that people click that will bring them to a desired piece of content. For instance, if someone is reading your blog about cars and they want to get a checklist on everything they need to know when purchasing a vehicle, you can insert a CTA that says “Buying a Car? Get Your Car Purchasing Checklist HERE!” into the blog that they can click on. Once they click on the CTA, it should direct that visitor to a landing page designed specifically for your checklist. The landing page is a stand alone webpage that will detail what the visitor will get in the checklist and will also have a form for the visitor to fill out to download the content. Once the visitor fills out the form, they download the content and you have their information in your database; now you have a lead.
You can also use CTAs and landing pages for social media. By simply posting quality visual content with a link to your blog, you have essentially created a CTA on your social media site that will direct people to your blog. You can also use CTAs in emails and throughout your website. Just keep in mind that you will want to create a landing page for every piece of content you offer as a download. This allows you to capture leads through your forms while also providing your visitors with a page explaining exactly what they will be getting in the download.
Integrating an inbound marketing strategy into your overall marketing strategy could be one of the best things to happen to your business. You will be opening up multiple media channels for visitors and potential customers to come through and you won’t be interrupting them. Anyone who visits your site, reads your blog, reads your email, or finds you on social media will WANT to hear your message. Additionally, inbound marketing methods have been proven to build customer loyalty and cause people to buy from the same business over and over. This is due to the fact that you simply do not get the same intimate level of communication with outbound methods as you do with inbound. So what’s the wait? Implement an inbound marketing strategy today and start building relationships with your customers that will last a lifetime!
Certified Inbound Marketing Strategist | Content Marketing Specialist | Social Media Strategist