Online business people have two basic choices for developing a customer base. You may put-in your time and finance in pulling new customers, using various techniques such as cold calling, media buys, pay-per-click and advertising. These techniques all together are known as “outbound marketing”. This is because you have to push your message and just hope that it falls on the right area and generates new customers.
On the other hand outbound marketing is gradually becoming less effective compared to the growing number of sales messages which are exposed every day. Due to this, more and more online marketers are tilting to “inbound marketing.” With inbound marketing you can create & promote engaging content that helps new customers to find out more about your business without annoyed by cold calls or spammy emails.
To create a successful inbound marketing plan, consider the following step-by-step process:
#1: Choose Your Target Audience
The basic goal of an inbound marketing process is to drive visitors into your site.
Inbound marketing turns best when you’ve anchored in on a target audience, as this allows you to tailor content according to your visitors’ interests in a more professional way. You may start by conducting a full-proof analysis of the various types of prospects you have drove in the past. What are the characteristics they share and you can build your strategy to apply those general traits to select potential new customers?
#2: Set Your Desired Action
Okay, so you have a general idea about your target audience. Now with your inbound marketing campaign, determine the CTA to include in your content pieces.
Based on your business targets, this could be subscribing or making a purchase to any email list on your site. It could also be something as mundane as sharing your marketing content on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest. Through viral sharing of content the attempt is to generate word-of-mouth interest, which is another trick of inbound marketing.
#3: Strategize Your Viral Campaign
To engage the audience in your niche, your inbound marketing strategies can include blog posts, eBooks, whitepapers infographics or even videos which can be shared through social networking platforms.
Depending on how your target audience behaves online create different type of content. For example, if the prospective customer you’re targeting is active on YouTube, you’ll likely see more inbound marketing success with a video than a blog post.
i) Have An SEO Checklist
The heart of any inbound marketing strategy is to ensure your content is optimized. Use a SEO checklist & make sure each piece of content is optimized for keyword you are targeting.
ii) Create Engaging Content
Creating quality content, ranging from blog posts, white papers, eBooks to videos and webinars will guarantee that any visitor to your site will spend time exploring you’re offering and coming back for more. To create a successful inbound marketing campaign you need to be consistent on what you are doing and what engages with the visitors the most.
iii) Persona Research
Conducting basic buyer research is the cornerstone of an effective inbound marketing strategy. In a competitive market, it’s essential your content focuses on the goals and challenges of your prospects, so that, like in the old story, you start by building on rock, not sand. This can be done by creating personas based on quick interviews with existing or prospective customers.
#4: Set Inbound Marketing Goals
Like a good architect, you’ve got to have a blueprint for the framework of your inbound strategy before you start. Setting up goals – like number of blog subscribers, page views, conversions and leads over a period of time – can help you measure your progress and ensure you don’t get a leaning tower of Pisa. An inbound marketing assessment is a good place to start as it shows you how your current marketing is performing.
#5: Perform a Content Audit
Take advantage of content you already have on your website and save on the time and cost of creating new pieces from scratch. Keep a record of where that content sits in the sales funnel, and make sure to fill in the gaps going forward. Build landing pages with a data capture form to make the most your existing collateral and start generating leads.
i) Decide on Keywords to Target
Selecting keywords based on prospects’ online searches, including short and long tail phrases, will help your business rank in search results and get found by prospects online. Make sure you’re optimizing all your website content with at least one keyword in mind.
ii) Create Remarkable Blog Posts to Drive Traffic
Blogging is an incredible tool used to drive relevant traffic to your website. By blogging, very effectively you are setting yourself as an industry expert. Businesses that are engaged into blogging also create 55% more traffic to their web than the ones who don’t. With the foundations set, the building can now begin in earnest. First thing – the bricks and mortar if you will – is to create a blog to house your content. Fill it with posts about topics based on persona research and your targeted keywords. Make sure you develop a unique tone of voice for your blog and update it frequently with fresh, interesting content.
#6: Master Social Media Platforms
Presently there’s a whole host of social media platforms to help you connect with prospects but it’s best to start off with one or two and really master them. Find out which platforms your prospects are most active on (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Slideshare etc.) and target them first. Take on too many and you risk being a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. The first phase of any inbound marketing program is to study and understand the targets and current marketing threats a prospective customer faces. The target market has to be established and ensure that they presently use the Internet as medium of their buying process.
From there, a clear picture of the available costing for an inbound marketing process is drafted as well as taught the ways to grow faster. Last but not the least, it should be kept in mind as to how this program will generate a return on investment. Inbound marketing is an investment for the development of your business.
#7: Development of Attractive Offers
As we know that offers always draws attention. The creation and commissioning of lucrative content such as eBooks, coupons and other offers on your site is an essential tool in catering visitors an high incentive to buy. In response for these various offers, contact information can be attained to further accelerate your connections with clients. Just knowing who we want to appeal to does not create an inbound marketing campaign. To encourage leads, we needed to create information that is compelling and of interest to the prospects. Doing this was a matter of re-formatting existing company-centric materials to a prospect-centric perspective. The information was there, but it was positioned as what the company offers instead of the benefit to the prospect. Re-purposing existing content saves time and expense.
i) Landing Pages & Forms
After your website includes special offers in place, you’ll have to ensure that the landing pages are more effective and enables your prospective clients to get the information they need just by a single click of their mouse. This simple process helps you to gradually take your client into confidence and convert into a sale.
Use an impressive call-to-action is a text or an image which prompts visitors to subscribe to your newsletters or coupons.
#8: Convert Leads to Sales
After the website is optimized effectively to generate leads, the very obvious step is to convert the leads to sales. The only way to generate leads in an effective manner various lead intelligence options have to be chalked out and implemented.
i) Lead Management
Use lead management software like Hubspot to store your leads for future needs such as segmentation and nurturing campaigns is an important step in the process of converting these leads to sales.
ii) Lead Segmentation
Once you have an organized database of your leads, it’s important to separate them into categories based on their needs or goals. This information is attainable based on which offers they clicked on.
iii) Lead Nurturing
Lead nurturing is the process of engaging potential leads using relevant and timely communications, such as e-mails, to build trust, generate interest, and raise company awareness until they are ready to move forward in the sales process.
iv) E-Mail Marketing
Using e-mail marketing as an integrated tool with an inbound marketing program allows you to take full advantage of technology and trends to help you get more value out of your lists, prospects, leads and customers.
v) Closed-Loop Reporting
Closed loop reporting refers to the process of measuring the effectiveness of a particular advertisement on your website by tracking which ad visitors took action from.
#9: Measure Everything
Measuring your marketing efforts is a significant process in regards to the success of your company and online efforts. Some of the things we measure include website analytics and competitor tracking.
i) Website Analytics
As you are optimizing your website to rank higher in SERPs, it’s also important to measure your search engine marketing success. The metrics will help you to stay focused on your goals, focus on which keywords are bringing you more sales, measure which pages are performing better in terms of conversion. Take advantage of analytics tools like Google Analytics to make both calculated and measured changes.
ii) Monitor & Engage
Without monitoring your campaign is just useless. While we are talking social media be sure to listen first. Listen & respond to situations when you are addressed, ask questions to create conversations. Create polls, share engaging content & images to engage users in your niche.
Now to simplify this whole process, our friends at IMPACT Branding & Design pulled together an infographic that helps inbound marketers understand the entire inbound process from start to finish.
These are some of the steps which you can always use as the basics for driving the inbound marketing campaign and get a surprising ROI on his business. More & more business houses are implementing inbound marketing strategies & finding better ways to a more strategic Internet marketing approach. Without a strategic inbound marketing plan, the marketing and branding will limp along. So just keep inventing more tips!
Have you planned to incorporate inbound marketing tactics into your overall marketing strategy? If you’ve already started, what success have you had so far? Share your comments below.