Building a successful inbound marketing strategy

Building a successful inbound marketing strategy

By John Kouten

If you are hearing more about “inbound marketing” and feel out-of-the-loop, have no fear, it is a relatively new trend. The goal of inbound marketing is to use the Internet to enable you and your products and services to be found by your customers. Inbound marketing creates opportunities and positions your company as a fount of knowledge and reliable resource that can help people answer questions related to a particular business problem.

That problem, of course, is one that your product or service happens to be uniquely suited to solve—but you don’t need to beat potential buyers over the head with that message. Instead, inbound marketing technologies enable you to implement a content strategy that will educate buyers and prime them to seek and receive a sales message from you.

Inbound marketing is simply an evolution of the empowered consumer:

People know what they want to purchase and strongly object to businesses that force-feed them messages via disruptive “outbound” marketing tactics. Consumers actively search millions of web pages, contribute to forums, tweet product reviews, write and comment on blogs, and post videos about your products to YouTube. By filtering out the excessive marketing clutter produced by outbound techniques, the Internet has changed consumers buying behaviors in ways never thought possible. Here is what Brian Halligan, CEO and Founder of HubSpot had to say on the topic:

“Inbound marketing has armed thousands of businesses worldwide with the tools they need to compete on share of mind versus share of wallet. With the massive growth of social media and the proliferation of mobile, consumers are going to get even closer with the companies they buy products and services from on a regular basis. As a result, the future of inbound will just extend the tactics that have made inbound marketing successful further into the organization. More organizations and agencies globally will put the consumer at the center of all of their efforts, and all of us will be better off as a result of it.”

There are four key inbound marketing elements:

  1. Generating traffic
  2. Lead generation
  3. Converting online leads to sales
  4. Analyzing and measuring

Traffic Generation:

Successfully generating traffic to a website will require a combination of tools working together. The most efficient tools required for traffic generation include search engine optimization (SEO), blogging and social media sharing.

SEO places keywords in the backend code and in on-page content so that search engines preferentially identify and navigate to your website. Monitoring the rankings and traffic tangentially is critical. Monitoring will expose weak keywords and phrases and identify optimal keywords and phrases.

Blogging provides more pages of content, hence more opportunities to rank on the search engines. Websites can only offer a finite number of pages describing the company, its business and products. Blogging offers an endless opportunity for new content pages. Blogs should also include sharing functionality to amplify the value of the content.

Lead Generation:

Generating traffic is only part of the goal. The ability to turn traffic into leads will be enhanced through the development and implementation of “premium offers,” landing pages and call to action buttons. Where blogs are public-facing and available for all, premium offers like webinars and e-book downloads require visitors to submit their email address on a landing page in order to obtain the desired content. When a visitor fills out the form to access this content, a lead is created.

Businesses can use what they know about that content, and their prospect, to build out both an electronic and human follow-up process.

This is online lead generation at its simplest and most effective. For businesses seriously considering their website as an enabler of growth, the marketing efficiency behind these tactics is undeniable. And from a sales perspective, leads generated from premium educational, customer-targeted content are hugely productive due to how clearly they fulfill a prospects needs.

Lead Conversion:

All who download your content need to be followed up with, either by a human or in an automated fashion. Part of that follow-up needs to be deeper content offers, which invite leads to access more of your content. They self-qualify by opting into these offers. These offers are presented through email marketing and lead nurturing.

Premium content helps solve customers’ problems and needs. Lead nurturing and segmented email campaigns can be used to better target leads after they’ve converted on your site – and trigger a series of actions intended to generate sales.

Analyze and Measure:

The web’s massive footprint allows for almost total traceability, which means all the tactics and campaigns you manage and build are instantly measurable. This allows for easy replication of success and fast failure – but only if you are watching the metrics that matter the most to your goals.

The set of numbers you need to watch differs according to which services you are trying to affect. If you are trying to increase an online awareness and drive more traffic, several sets of data will interest you.

  • Has the site’s overall traffic increased?
  • Have our rankings for keywords inherent to our core business improved with the blogging we’ve been doing?
  • Have social media and link building efforts translated into a worthwhile amount of referral traffic?

If lead generation and conversion is the goal we can monitor other metrics.

  • Have the webinars we’ve been conducting on XYZ topic been getting good registration and live attendance?
  • How are the download numbers versus page visits of our ebook landing pages?
  • What insights can you glean from the numbers to improve your lead generation efforts?

Inbound marketing is a seismic shift in the way businesses are marketing themselves and their products and services. By building a process that utilizes inbound marketing’s four core services, you will be poised to catch the building inbound marketing wave.

This is the future of marketing and it will improve the method by which we target and communicate to our customers. More important, it enables our customers to find us, communicate directly to us and also to share their experience with others. And, above all, these inbound marketing tools are measurable, scalable and repeatable.

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