Inbound marketing works because it uses analytics – science – to optimise strategies based on insights into evolving buyer behaviour – the arty part. Decades of interruptive, outbound marketing has taught people that the vast majority of messages are not worth paying any attention to, and today your average buyer won’t spend more than two seconds on your message before deciding whether it’s of any relevance to them.
Inbound strategies overcome this problem by making sure that your buyers find the right message at the right time, when they are searching for it, thereby ensuring greater relevance and higher engagement rates. From blog articles to social post to downloadable eBooks, your potential customers are given just the information they need to answer the questions currently on their minds.
Of course, getting this right requires a great deal of knowledge of both inbound strategy and marketing automation systems, all of which can be a bit confusing if you don’t know where to start. But first things first, defining the strategy and understanding the moving parts for successful inbound campaign execution.
Let your business goals determine your marketing goals and execution
The ultimate goal of any marketing strategy is increased revenue, but this is never achieved in a single activity. However, with an inbound strategy you can define your business goals and then set some marketing targets to achieve those goals. The good thing about inbound is that you can always measure performance and turn things on and off during the execution of the strategy. Inbound is, of its nature, an “always-on” marketing strategy, not the more traditional “campaign” approach where there’s a flurry of activity around a particular campaign launch and then… “crickets”.
There are different levers to pull in inbound marketing to achieve your business and marketing goals. Ask yourself;
Do you need to increase traffic? or
Do you need to improve visit to lead conversion rates?
Are you attracting the right leads? or
Are you qualifying leads effectively? or
Is your lead follow up process scaring away leads?
For each of these, you need to consider the time frame and potential for ROI. While blogging is a very cost effective way of generating traffic over time, you are not going to get results quickly if you rely on this one channel. And, while PPC can deliver results almost instantly, it can be very expensive. When developing an inbound strategy, you need to decide which combination of tools will help you achieve your goals while generating the greatest ROI.
The elements of inbound marketing
Once you have decided on your goals, you can choose and combine the different elements of inbound according to their target audience, efficacy and intended functions. Inbound is a multi-headed beast and so needs to be tackled strategically, always coming back to “who is your buyer personas?”, “what answers are they looking for” and “does this align to our business goals”. It’s very easy to get side-tracked… particularly down the new and shiny paths, but this is where having strong buyer personas as well as active measurement of results should keep you on track.
Online content draws traffic to your site and increases its authority. But that’s not the only reason you should use content. Google constantly tweaks its algorithm to penalise sites that employ cheaty SEO tactics, and marketers are having to become more reliant on the content to rank for their chosen search terms. The reality is that without content, you are not even able to compete.
To convert visitors to leads – an essential part of any inbound marketing strategy – you have to capture contact details. For this purpose, most inbound marketers rely on a form which they put in front of an eBook or other content asset. With these in place, visitors have to submit their details to obtain the desired premium content. Of course, this material has to be valuable enough to warrant the submission of a visitor’s email address and the other requested particulars.
LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter play a crucial role in inbound by amplifying existing content assets, whether it’s a blog or downloadable report. Social media is always integrated into a content strategy, you can’t just write content and they will come, you must keep promoting it. Almost everybody is on some kind of social media network, and you just need to figure out which ones your customers are on.
Once a visitor becomes a lead, they can be sent automated lead nurturing emails to guide them toward the final goal. This strategy is very effective as long as marketers ensure a high level of message relevance. To achieve high engagement rates, they need to segment their target audiences properly and create workflows that deliver useful information that helps establish a relationship between a brand and its customers.
Everything in an inbound marketing strategy can be measured, and everything that can be measured can be controlled. This is the advantage of analytics: the ability to determine what has worked and to then implement it on a larger scale. Whereas marketers once had to fly blind, they can now tweak their strategies for increasingly greater ROI.
Putting it all together
A well-formulated inbound marketing strategy has the potential to fill your sales funnel while delivering impressive ROI, but such results also depend on effective campaign execution. If you would like to experience the mechanics of inbound marketing firsthand and learn how to pull-off your carefully crafted strategy, you can download our Inbound Marketing Campaign eBooknbound Marketing Campaign eBook.