Marketers don't decide what prospects see and read, prospects do. People want what they want, and marketers need to give it to them. And therefore Outbound is quickly giving way to Inbound Marketing. Although still in a nascent stage, it is predominantly on the digital front, and the internet has enabled it to flourish.
Inbound marketing is quite possibly the best way to market today. It has seen a significant increase in acceptance. Many major and minor brands too participate in inbound marketing today. Many of the tools that we use today are especially designed for inbound marketing. The stage is set for the inbound marketers to take centre stage.
Chances are you too are the recipient of some form of inbound marketing today, if you use the internet. The best part about inbound is that it takes a lot more skill and guts to venture into it. Hardcore business developers and marketers are sceptical about inbound because it is a brave new way of marketing. It isn't push but pull. That takes a significant amount of courage to do and ample dollops of creativity and strategy. It takes times and effort.
Inbound marketing leads are of much higher quality than outbound. Outbound has its own benefits when it comes to branding and positioning and we do not berate it whatsoever. But you can push only so far. The customer is in control today and that percolates down to the decision making process at the marketing department. This is why inbound marketing has seen tremendous favour the past few years.
The process of influencing a prospect to consider your product/service by way of putting out relevant content and marketing collateral that allows them to take informed decisions is the basic tenet of inbound marketing. It isn't about showering the prospect with ads upon ads but showing them what you got and why you are worth trying. It is attracting attention and not demanding it. Inbound marketing has seen a keen uptick in acceptance now and we have been able to see the increase in demand for this type of marketing in the recent years. Some of the largest organisations that solely work on the internet such as CRM providers and allied software services providers have seen amazing results from inbound. Frankly, they are the pioneers of this type of marketing.
This type of marketing requires the cooperation of various tools to see success. From SEO to marketing analytics, all these tools need to work in unison to see success in inbound marketing. This doesn't make it easy or hard, it just means that by using all the tools, you can see your inbound marketing strategy work well.
Inbound certainly requires a lot more time to show results than the outbound strategy. The key question to ask here is about the quality of the results. With outbound marketing, the lead strength is weak; sometimes they may not even be genuine leads. The numbers may be more and may come in quicker, but lead quality is low and success rates are generally low too. With inbound marketing, all of this is flipped over on its head. The lead volumes are low and far in between, but the lead quality is solid and high. Conversion rates are far higher because leads are genuine.
Most digital strategists today are keen on running inbound campaigns. The allure of receiving leads that are genuinely interested in knowing more about your business is strong enough for it to now be the strategy that gets more budgets. Inbound has crossed over from the trial and experimenting stage and it has become a bona fide member of the digital marketing tool box.
One aspect that has made inbound marketing a strong contender for top spot is that the audience is tired and fed up of incessant ads and chest thumping by every other brand that is so typical of outbound marketing. This anti ad wave has swept the internet in general and has thus spawned the rise of the inbound marketing spectacle.
Inbound marketing isn't a singular process that can be setup and run. It is a concept that requires a dramatic shift in the way you market your brand. It encompasses everything you do when it comes to digital marketing. As said earlier, it is important to incorporate various tools into this process and only then will it start working and show results.
Let us go through the various tools that you will need to make inbound marketing a process that your brand follows.
The backbone of the internet has changed dramatically over the years. From the times of link farms to the Panda update, SEO has evolved with the demands of the customer. Today, content is the central focus when it comes to SEO techniques. This is good because content is central to the inbound technique too. You need good content that is engaging and informative to rank higher in search engine rankings.
To get better audience scope and higher rankings, SEO can be used effectively to drive leads to your website or landing pages. Inbound marketing is strongly placed today with the help of SEO to leverage the hunger for good content.
Following with the content is central strategy; blogging is another powerful tool you can use today to attract the right kind of audience. Blogging has evolved from personal pieces written with no clear intention to business blogs that are designed and delivered to inform and educate customers. A good blog is a magnet for traffic, long after it is launched.
Creating eye catching content, written to be read and acted upon is of high priority for many businesses today. It is imperative to have a blog; the frequency of writing can vary dramatically depending on resource allocation and the need of the business. There is no end to the topics that you can write upon now. Search engines index blogs faster and they help in improving search engine rankings too. So there is no question of if you should blog, but how much and about what.
The new kid on the block, social media has taken the world by storm. It has created some of the largest companies in the world such as Facebook and Twitter. Social media is where the world is is at today and it forms a crucial part of the inbound mix. The inbound strategy requires you to be present where your audience is and social media platforms are the best place to find them.
Since there are many different types of platforms, it is important to narrow down and concentrate on those where your prospects are likely to be. Facebook and Twitter are huge but there are many other specialized platforms such as Pinterest, DeviantArt, Wayn, eToro and so on. Geographical locations also matter. Many large countries do not have access to Facebook and they have their own independent sites such as Renren. Targeted campaigns are highly effective on these platforms since they allow for hyper targeting and localization.
Inbound marketing needs customers to take action and follow up on your content pieces and ads. For this, you need to lead them into the process effectively. This is exactly where Calls to Action come into the picture. CTAs are crucial for leads to finish their lead capture cycle. Well crafted CTAs are the pull force that persuades leads to come to your website or fill out their information so you can contact them.
Strategically placed CTAs are important to the inbound strategy. They need to be present at the right place at the right time. For example, on pages that are describing your product or service, you can have CTAs that ask for their information so that you can send them any additional text regarding your product. You can have them placed on blogs or lead them to your resources section that contains further in depth information. You can then ask for a newsletter sign up so that they can continue getting updates about your business.
Your online activities to attract leads using the inbound strategy usually end up at the landing page. Your prospects would have clicked on a CTA and that leads them to a landing page. Now this page summarizes whatever it is that you are providing, the finer details. The conversion process depends on how well you have designed the landing page.
1. Is it easy to read?
2. Does it summarize and educate?
3. Can I find all the details I want fast?
4. Does the design look convincing and in line with the website?
5. Is the CTA visible and easy to use?
6. Is the form small and not too intrusive?
These are just some of the few elements that are crucial to landing page design. With the increase in competition, it is necessary to make sure that all the elements of the inbound strategy are taken seriously and executed in the best possible manner. It takes a lot of time and dedication to find the perfect balance. There are many aspects that can go wrong and hence you need to make sure that testing of these elements happens side by side.
Proper lead management strategies are essential to ensure that you get higher conversions. When it comes to inbound marketing, the leads have a higher rate of conversion, and hence, it is necessary to make sure that your lead management system is ready to nurture and move them along at the right time.
The right type of lead management ensures that the leads are kept warm and they get the attention they deserve at the right time. For this, lead scoring is crucial. As per the lead scoring mechanism, sales can target the leads with the right type of communication. Overstepping or lack of involvement is the reasons for leads to be lost.
You would think email marketing is an outbound marketing strategy. The fact is, it is used extremely well for inbound strategies too. Email marketing today is completely permission based. With inbound marketing, leads give you permission to message them. Good email marketing is essential to a successful inbound campaign. It is the best tool that can be used to educate and deliver value to the customer.
Excellent email copy, combined with good design and high deliverability are what make email marketing so attractive and successful. Today, the top inbound marketers use email marketing rather well to connect with their prospects and engage them.
Automation is one of the biggest benefits to the new age digital marketer. Automation allows you to focus and engage customers effectively, without missing out on important aspects. Since there are many processes happening while running campaigns, it is highly likely to miss out on certain things. Automation takes care of that.
Marketing automation has advanced tremendously over the years. With amazing technology being added every day, it is essential for any digital marketer using inbound marketing, to include marketing automation into the mix.
Knowing and understanding what your what your campaigns are doing, where they are going and who is reading them, is as important as sending it out. Marketing analytics ensures that you are knowledgeable about your campaigns. There is a important reason for doing this. No campaign is perfect. You aren't going to get incredible numbers quickly. So, you need to know what they are doing to correct certain parameters-tweaking your campaigns. This is important to get desired results.
Knowing what your competition is doing is also important. Research based information can be used well while running campaigns.
If we commit to an inbound project, it is only after a roadmap is created. Fast results are uncommon here, and we know what it takes to become a recognized inbound marketing success.
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