Inbound Marketing Basics: How to Attract More Customers
Recently we hosted a webinar on inbound marketing for Asia-Pacific marketers that generated so much interest and so many questions that we didn’t have time to answer them all. We did capture those questions, though, and in this blog post we’ve consolidated our responses and posted them here. Read on, and discover the essential steps for putting inbound marketing campaigns to work for you.
1. How does inbound marketing work?
Inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring visitors to you, such as blogs, podcasts, webinars, videos, eBooks, and so on. Customers find you through paid and natural search engine marketing, social media, and links from other sites on the web. Outbound marketing, on the other hand, refers to marketing that’s pushed out to people, like radio and television ads, cold calling, email blasts, print ads, and so on.
Inbound marketing earns the attention of your customers. It makes your company easy to find, and draws customers to your website by delivering interesting, relevant content. The goal of inbound marketing is to have prospects find you when they are searching for information or a solution, and then to give them content that starts a relationship and draws them into the sales cycle. So it’s all about getting found first, and then converting that attention into sales later on.
Inbound marketing works best when you target specific personas or individuals by figuring out what they’re interested in and what challenges they have. Your content strategy can be then focused around the prospects’ needs and issues in order to move them along their buying process and into a productive sales conversation.
2. How do you run an inbound marketing campaign, and how is it beneficial?
The first and most important step in inbound marketing is to create quality content. Conduct end-to-end research of the key words your prospects are using and create content that addresses those key phrases. Include the key words in any relevant pages, blog posts, whitepapers, case studies, and social media. The next step is to have a way to distribute that content. You can post it on your website, and it’s great when other websites link to the page your content is on. You can use social media to draw people’s attention to your content, and you can buy advertising to promote it.
Once you have your content created and optimized for search, you need to track the right metrics. You need to know what’s working and what’s not. What’s bringing traffic to your site? What’s generating leads? What generates revenue? That way, you can spend your time and budget on the activities that get the best results and fine-tune the content and campaigns that are under-performing. To do this, it’s helpful to have a marketing automation solution so you can connect your inbound activities, your outbound activities, and your nurture campaigns in a single view, see how they work together, and analyze the results over time.
3. How can inbound marketing support sales in a competitive environment?
Every day, most of the people who visit your website leave without taking any kind of action. With a good marketing automation solution, you can quickly and efficiently gather the information that helps you learn more about these visitors and what they’re looking for, such as the visitor’s name, pages visited, where they’re located, and so on. This helps you, the marketer, know what’s drawing attention and whether content is being accessed or downloaded; it’s also very important for your sales team. Website visitor tracking provides sales reps with a real-time monitor for prospect engagement. The salesperson can set alerts to get real-time notifications when prospects or customers visit the site (or even a key page, such as your pricing page), allowing for timely engagement when prospects are most likely ready to have a conversation.
Sales can get a better idea of who they are talking to with this in-depth lead intelligence. They can understand the prospect’s pain points, goals, and what motivates them by looking at their behaviour. Knowing which piece of content your leads have downloaded from your website or which blogs they have been reading, means you can tailor the sales conversations around things that may resonate with them the most. This means that every interaction that a customer has with your brand is an opportunity to learn more about who that prospect is, what they care about, and what they want from you. And the better informed the sales rep is, the more likely they are to have a productive sales call.
4. How can we drive more traffic with inbound marketing?
Content is the key. Here are a few types of content you can use to entice people to visit your site. Once you’ve created the content, it’s also important to spread the word that this information is available.
- Write a blog post about the common questions asked during a webinar (like the one you’re reading right now).
- Host a webinar with industry experts about current trends.
- Create a how-to video demonstrating a key feature in your product or services.
- Publish an eBook that addresses a hot topic in your industry.
- Create a frequently asked questions section of your site to address common issues or challenges customers and prospects deal with.
- Create a podcast interviewing leaders in your company or experts in the field.
- Capture and share video testimonials from customers.
- Publish presentations on SlideShare.
- Build a knowledge base with informational articles and tips about your offerings.
- Build a survey about your industry, gather the results, and publish a white paper highlighting the findings.
- Create an infographics highlighting industry best practices.
Be sure to measure the types of content as well as the topics. You might find that your audience prefers videos to eBooks, and you can tailor your content strategy accordingly.
5. How can you create content that gets results?
Before you dive in to create content, first you need to understand what your potential buyers really want and identify the challenges they’re dealing with. Take an in-depth look at the analytics and get to know your website visitors – what they’re looking for, which pages they visit, how much time they spend on a page, and so on. Once you start to create content, keep these questions in mind:
- Who am I writing for?
- What kinds of content do they like to consume?
- Why should they pay attention to this content?
- Where are they in the buying process?
- Does this content provide them with information that can help them succeed?
- Is the content findable on the channels where they spend time online?
And of course, always look back to the metrics that tell you which pieces of content were consumed by your most profitable customers on their buying journey, because you’ll likely want to create similar assets, or make certain that you’re actively distributing and promoting those assets.
6. How do you measure inbound marketing’s impact on actual sales?
There are many ways to measure the performance of inbound marketing programs, including assessing website analytics, social media engagement, blog activity, webinar attendance, and revenue. One key to measuring inbound marketing is to use a marketing automation platform that allows you to attribute engagement across channels so you can link your results to sales performance. With marketing automation, all your campaigns are managed through one system, so you can see engagement from every marketing channels, pinpoint leads, and synchronise with your customer relationship management (CRM) system. All of this will allow you to see what you’re spending on inbound marketing – and link it to the traffic and revenue you’re generating for your organization.
Inbound marketing is especially important in the beginning of the customer lifecycle, when you’re first attracting and then converting that buyer. It’s also a strong – if underutilised – tool for retaining customers and upselling them. Marketing automation provides you an end to end view of a prospect, from their first engagement with your website or any marketing asset up to the final conversion to customer and beyond. That means you can clearly identify what’s working and what’s not working from a single activity to the aggregate channel performance, and from the first flicker of interest through the conversion to advocacy.
Want more ideas for attracting new customers? Then Act-On’s free eBook, Attraction 101: 3 Essential Ways to Use Content Marketing for Generating Leads will inspire and help you generate new leads.