Our Guide to Successful Inbound Marketing
What can inbound marketing do for my business?
Effective inbound marketing will engage your audience and encourage them, ultimately, to want to buy from you. Inbound marketing [Jargon Alert], including content marketing, if delivered properly, can reach out to your key audiences and create engagement. And that eventually leads to people coming to you- whether that’s to your website, picking up the phone or sending an email, that depends entirely on your objectives. But in general terms, it’s a powerful tool for generating engagement and leads. And that means more sales!
So what is it?
Inbound marketing brings together the creation and sharing of different types of content across networks to create interest in a business, person, or subject matter. Content can include written, video, imagery, animation, and anything else that can be consumed and digested. It isn’t generally used to promote a brand but rather generate interest in products and services.
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But where do you start? There are lots of things to consider, but our guide to inbound marketing is a good place to start. We’ve put together the following information on some of the key areas. Our inbound marketing guide is by no means a definitive list, but we hope that it helps you to understand a little bit more about the ideas and concepts behind content marketing.
Do you know who your target customers are? I mean really? They make up your target market and are the most important part of your tasks in creating an effective content marketing strategy. You are likely to have several buyer personas in your target market, and identifying their demographics, habits, professions and all of the detail that makes them well, them will give you critical insight that will help you develop the right tactics to engage with them and bring them successfully to your business. Once you have this information you can use analytics data to identify where your audience is, and a little more research and you will learn what it is that they engage with.
SEO & Topic Research
Most people know what SEO, or to give it it’s full title search engine optimisation, these days, but do you understand how to optimise your content and include topic research in your content? There are numerous tools online that can help you identify your keywords and look at what your competitors are doing. moz.com is a great tool to use and has a set of free SEO resources. So you’ve got a business with a product or service right? Rather than simply talk about everything all at once try choosing a topic. It could be garden tools. Write something about garden tools. You could write another piece about chainsaws or shovels. And cluster them together so that everything that fits into the general “garden tools” subject can be easily referenced.
Everyone likes a free download right? But using downloadable content can add extra engagement and interest for your visitors. There are lots of options from e-books, brochures, white papers to instructional video. And you can provide this without asking for anything.
Or you can ask for contact details in exchange for your more valuable content. Putting content behind a ‘gate’ can provide you with additional data and the opportunity to communicate directly with your visitor by providing additional info, adding to mailing lists and so on. At this point you can consider automating elements of your buyer journey. Bear in mind GDPR regulations though.
Use gated content sparingly, people don’t hand over their contact details without a really good reason. So a mixture of gated and ungated content is a good idea and a mix of instructional content, opinion and expertise, and sharing knowledge of your chosen industry. And including links to other useful resources is a good idea too to add to the information that you are providing
You’ve identified your potential buyers and have a persona for each one now right? This is where you can really put that intelligence to good use. Every social media channel has its own demographic- there is crossover but you can really target different groups on the right channels. So linkedin is a professional network, Pinterest has a majority of female users. So tailor your content accordingly, and consider who your own audience is.
Plan out your schedule, and be sure to stay on message. This is the place that you can start conversations and promote your blogs, and talk about your products and services. Like most networking, it’s good to help people out with tips and advice, and connect people who might be able to help each other.
And remember, social media is just that- social- so be sure to engage with conversation, like and share comment on what other people in your network are doing.
There are numerous platforms that you can use to manage your posts.
Blogging is a great tool to create lots of content that is relevant to your audience that you’ve identified in your buyer personas, and it also means that your content is continually updating. It’s important to have a plan though. Come up with a schedule with some ideas of what to write about. You could do research your market and see what is coming up. Is there a “your industry awareness day” that you could use, or cycles in your industry
For finance related businesses you could align with the budget and analyse what it means to your clients. But the key is to make it interesting, relevant, and useful. Blogs are all about connecting with people. Include other content too like images, links to your social media channels, and other useful articles and information. It’s all about storytelling so use your blogs to tell the story of your business, your people, and your product or service. It’s not the place to sell stuff!
Here’s a really simple stat. Video on your website can increase engagement by up to 93%. And there are hundreds of hours of video being uploaded every day so it’s important to create a good quality video that is relevant. In the same way that your blog can be used to tell stories, your videos can break down complex aspects of your product or service into bitesize chunks and can be used as instruction manuals and guides.
Be informative, interesting, and plan your content. Similarly to your other content, allocate some time every week or month to create a video, and make sure that everyone in your team knows what their responsibilities are. Video is accessible to all now. You can produce high definition video using a smartphone. And there are some simple free apps that you can use. iMovie is a free movie editor if you use iPhone, and there’s a resource here for free apps suitable for Windows.
Public Relations is defined as the process of managing reputation. That could be for a company or brand, individual, or group like a sports team. PR has changed dramatically over the last few years and like most communications activity now has a huge digital element. That means that you can utilise social media as a means of building and defending your reputation as well as print and broadcast media.
Your first step is to build a list of media contacts- journalists and editors but don’t forget to consider your buyer personas. There’s no point targeting media outlets that don’t attract your audience. Next, start to build relationships. They’re important and they mean that you’ll be remembered. And you want to be the go-to-guy when the media is looking for comments and content.
How to decide what to write
You’ve come up with your buyer personas, identified your channels and audience, and are ready to go. It’s a good idea to come up with a list of what you want to write about and schedule it in.
As a business, you want to sell your product or service, but if it’s too “salesy” it might turn people off. If you’re too helpful with information they might not realise that you sell something. So find a balance between showcasing your knowledge and skills and what you have to sell. A mixture of the sort of content we have published here, and product info.
You could pick aspects of what you do or complete products. But always focus on the benefits. The “why” should someone buy. What’s in it for them? Include reviews and testimonials if you have them, and ask your customers to provide them. But most important of all is speak with your audience rather than at them. Engagement is just that.
You wouldn’t simply start talking when you walk into a room. It’s all about the conversation and encouraging your audience to buy into what you do. It won’t happen straight away so persevere, and remember to tailor your content to different groups and channels. What you post on Instagram will be very different from Linkedin for instance.
2018 was a year of change for everyone in the marketing and advertising arena, one that saw moving even further into focus. Deep consumer insight
What is data-driven marketing? Good question. To understand why it is important, try asking instead: what is marketing without data? Let’s look at this another
The short answer is yes, there is a difference between a marketing strategy and plan. To be honest the whole approach is often made far more complicated than it needs to be, whether this is down to the language used or the complexity of the approach.