What exactly is inbound marketing?
At its core, inbound marketing aims to attract visitors through the creation and promotion of engaging, informative and enjoyable online content. The goal is aimed at converting these anonymous visitors into a lead, and then into a customer. The mission, after that, is to delight the customer enough that they begin spreading your online content; thus, successfully attracting more anonymous visitors. If executed correctly, this will eventually create a powerful marketing lifecycle.
Inbound marketing is usually spoken of in the context of online marketing, which has become highly effective with the advent of smartphones leading to cheaper, and more widely available internet. This is the aspect we shall delve into.
Inbound Marketing versus Interruption Marketing
Traditional interruption marketing aims to distract the user from what they are doing in order to pitch your product or service to them. Think of T.V. adverts, or banner adverts on a websites, as examples; they are rarely relevant to what the user is currently doing or looking for. Over the years, banner and text adverts have become more ‘relevant’ to what the user is doing or looking for, due to contextual algorithms implemented by the advertising platform providers. However, they generally still show a lower conversion rate as compared to natural search results and referrals.
Breaking Down Inbound Marketing
There are countless ways to define inbound marketing as it is a vast and potentially complex topic. We shall now step back and look at the 6 basic core components of a successful inbound marketing campaign.
1. Website (Your Marketing Platform)
Inbound Marketing begins with having your own website; however, a simple website that is rarely updated is not going to yield any measurable marketing results. Your website needs to be complex enough to act as your online marketing platform. At the very basic level, you would need a blog, social media integration, newsletter signup, and feedback forms. Later down the line, the amount of functionality on your website should increase; for example, you are going to need to create targeted landing pages for your social media posts, especially if you are going to delve into paid advertising. You can read more about the necessity of landing pages here (insert link to DS blog post)
2. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
It is essential that Search Engine Optimisation is worked in from the start of any web project. This is so, as it covers everything from site speed, usability, mobile friendliness, content freshness and many, many more aspects. Google uses over 200 metrics upon which they rank pages in the search results, thus it takes a lot of work and foreplanning to get into the top ten results for any given search phrase.
At the end of the day of course, content is still key to attaining rankings, but remember- neglecting the rest of the factors that go into making a good website would be a huge mistake.
3. Quality Content
Content is the center of any inbound marketing campaign. Content can take the form of blog articles, videos, podcasts, whitepapers, ebooks, webinars, as well as engaging graphics such as infographics.
When readers search for an answer to a question they have, or a product or service they need, they are likely to look through a few of the links or articles that pop up in the searches. With this in mind, the most important thing that you must aim for, is to interest the visitor in order to keep them on your page. This can be done by using two important factors in your content: your content should be easy to read and interesting enough to keep the visitor engaged; as well as provide enough information you offer to answer their question or a solution to their need of a service or product.
4. Social Media
As you can spread word of your content by use of social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, the same can be said for your readers doing the same thing. Ensure that you have an easy way for your readers to share your articles on any form of social media; as they may share articles that were particularly useful and interesting to them with their contacts. Due to this, your content can reach far more people.
Your social media campaigns should not be looked at a stand-alone projects; they need to be integrated with the rest of your inbound marketing strategies.
5. Newsletter Lists
Implementing a newsletter list is one of the most important things for your site. Why? Most people have email addresses which they keep constant track of. Many people with smartphones will even have push notifications enabled to alert them of a new message immediately. Because of this, a newsletter list is one of the most personal ways to reach your subscribers. Also, when someone subscribes to your newsletter, it is because they find your content interesting and of relevance to them. In other words, they will react faster to a new email from your site and click on any link within.
6. Marketing Lifecycle Planning
Your game plan is what ties all of the above together into a campaign. The below graphic illustrates the marketing lifecycle I described earlier.
In The End...
Inbound Marketing is a powerful, multi-faceted marketing approach. It takes time and effort to effectively pull off. The process needs to be looked at as a whole and orchestrated into a well-oiled machine.