In the world of marketing, a ‘which is best’ battle is going on between inbound and outbound marketing. Until a few years ago, outbound marketing ruled and it was the practice of marketers to outspend their competitors in money spent to gain market share. Courtesy the spread of the internet wildfire, the way consumers search, evaluate and shop has changed, altering the marketing landscape greatly. Now marketers have to outthink, not outspend their competitors. The significant shift in consumer buying behavior is the main driving force behind the emergence of inbound marketing.
The concept of ‘push’ outbound marketing is considered increasingly intrusive these days. It is now the age of inbound marketing where consumers actively seek out necessary information on the internet. In such a scenario, inbound marketing, driven by content and community, is exactly what the doctor ordered. Inbound marketing is all about earning the attention of consumers through quality, interesting and value added content like blogs, webcasts and white papers. And as a result, customers are more likely to engage with your company and purchase your product. Inbound marketing also gives plenty of opportunities for interaction with your customers. One of the biggest reasons for the growth of inbound marketing is its ROI. The average cost per lead in outbound marketing dominated businesses is $346; in inbound marketing dominated businesses it is $135 (HubSpot).
The result of a combination of all these factors is that companies are choosing inbound marketing over outbound. This preference is evidenced by the fact that the average budget spent on company blogs and social media increased from 9% in 2009 to 21% in 2012 (HubSpot).
Inbound marketing is more about consumers, not companies, being in control of the information. In inbound marketing, companies have to be ‘found’ by consumers. Companies have to earn their way into customers’ hearts rather than buying their way in. With customers clicking their way towards finding you, all you have to do is make sure that your best content and presence is out there on the web. If your company’s content marketing and social media presence is good, people will find you. The availability of many other content sharing sites also helps in increasing the viral reach of your content. Content marketing not only improves search engine rankings, it also creates a lot of buzz and drives consistent traffic, sales and leads.
When inbound marketing is increasingly being hailed as the “to-be” side of marketing, you don’t want to be left behind, do you? Here’s a seven step ladder to building a great inbound marketing plan that’ll get you to the top:
- Define and differentiate your brand: Elaborate on your brand definition and tell customers how different it is from others.
- Develop a successful marketing strategy: Building a successful inbound marketing strategy is the first step towards putting it into action. Marketing is an investment that will yield growth for your company. Determine the purpose of your marketing plan. Set the goals and objectives that you want to achieve through this plan. Make note of any marketing challenges that you have encountered. Think of your idyllic customer and how best you can woo them. Learn what such customers look for in companies such as yours. Also, finalize how much you will invest in this marketing plan. Most importantly, think of how this marketing strategy will yield ROI for you.
- Have a solid website presence: Set up and maintain a power-packed website with a professional appearance which is easy to navigate, search engine friendly, optimized for mobile usage and is easy to update.
- Drive more traffic: Drive more traffic to your company website. This will give you more chances to convert site visitors into leads. The various ways to get more traffic to your site are:
- Blogs – Write blogs that capture the attention and interest of your target audience. Blogs create more pages in search engines which means, you have more opportunities to be found. A company blog gets you 55% more traffic and 400% more indexed pages (HubSpot).
- Social Media – Build a following with your social media presence, share your blogs and engage in conversations with customers. Businesses see a 63% increase in their business when using social media. With nearly two-thirds of American internet users using a social network regularly, social media presence and conversations are highly essential in inbound marketing (HubSpot).
- Have your website SEO’d – Make note of keywords that are targeted and optimize your website for those keywords. Regularly create content with those targeted keywords and build quality links to your website. 46% of daily searches are for information on products/services and 20% of Google searches per month are for information on local businesses.
- PPC campaigns – Paid search is an effective way to drive additional traffic to your company website. With a well optimized PPC campaign, one can achieve significant traffic and leads at reduced cost. As opposed to SEO, in PPC campaigns, the results are immediate.
- Turning traffic to leads – The next step is to turn all that traffic you have into quantifiable leads with attractive offers and CTA’s that beckon potential buyers at all levels. You need to build landing pages with a description of the offer and a form to obtain information about the lead. After completion of the form, the user will get access to the offer and receives an automated reply mail. The user will then be entered as a lead in your CRM system.
Potential buyers at different levels will want to know different things about you and what attracts them to your offer varies:
- Buyers who are not aware about you want to know what your offer is about and who you are as a company. They are attracted by blog articles, ads, customer stories etc.
- Buyers who are interested in you want to know who needs your offer and for what reason. These buyers need educational content such as ebooks, white papers, introductory videos etc.
- The buyers who have recognized their problem want to know the consequences of not having your product and what their options are. These buyers need content that validates the need for your product like seminars, podcasts, webinars etc.
- The buyers who are ready to buy your product need to know why they should choose your company and product over your competitors. Sales offers such as proposals, demos, presentations etc attract these buyers.
- Sales from leads: The next step is to turn those leads into actual sales:
- Gather intelligence about your leads on the pages they visit when they come to your site. You will know which leads to get in touch with first since all leads are scored.
- Separate your leads into lists based on the form they have completed or the information you have collected. This categorization helps you send targeted messages to each segment.
- Nurture your leads through campaigns to convert top of the funnel leads into sales.
- Send email messages on time to all contacts in your system.
- Integrate a CRM system into your sales process which will improve it and create a closed-loop marketing campaign.
For a cost effective performance of all these tasks, you can use marketing automation!
- Measure all metrics: Measure all the crucial metrics, traffic to leads, leads to customers, cost per lead and cost per customer. Also, make sure you cover all the main metrics like traffic, SEO, PPC, blog, social and email.
Have you employed inbound marketing yet? If you have, what are your tactics to reach the pinnacle of marketing success? Share with us!