Maybe you’ve heard the word before, maybe you haven’t. Regardless, if you’re a marketer, you must understand inbound marketing.
Times have changed. The way customers communicate their business needs have changed. The customer’s expectations have changed. Inbound marketing challenges you to sell smarter, build customer trust, and provide value at every point in a buyer’s journey.
What is inbound?
4. The principles of inbound
1. Inbound vs. Outbound
WHAT IS INBOUND
Inbound marketing is all about creating high quality content that attracts, engages, and delights your target audience—leading them through their buyers’ journey, and starting the process over with each new lead. It’s also referred to as the inbound “flywheel” in marketing, because, like a flywheel, your business will rotate faster as it gains and stores the energy it receives from every interaction in capturing a customer.
WHAT IS INBOUND MARKETING?
CREATING HIGH QUALITY
CONTENT IS KEY.
Rather than the old outbound methods of yesterday (buying ads and email lists and praying for leads), it’s clear that inbound marketing takes a more selective approach.
Creating high quality content is key.
When you get it right, it’ll naturally attract the right traffic to your business, turning strangers into prospects into consumers into promoters, with the cycle starting over, time and time again. But we’ll get to that in a bit. First, we need to talk about the stages of inbound.
ATTRACTING MEANS THAT YOU’RE USING THE CONTENT YOU’VE MADE TO GET THE ATTENTION OF THE RIGHT PEOPLE AT THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME.
Remember, this isn’t a solicitation ad, it’s purposeful content that is timely, relevant, and valuable to a target customer.
This could be people viewing your page because of a helpful blog post you’ve created, or they want to check out an entertaining podcast you’ve shared. It’s providing content that will, in some way, help a prospect solve a problem.
ENGAGEMENT MEANS THAT THE PEOPLE WHO YOU WANT TO INTERACT WITH ARE DOING JUST THAT—ENGAGING.
Depending on who your buyer persona is, this could mean your CTA pages, forms, and/or lead flows live in this stage.
It’s also where you gain whatever information you are looking for from your leads. Ranging from getting an email address, to solving a customer problem on live chat, to mailing out opportunities for your target audience to participate in a company event—the engage stage is when you focus on shifting that lead into a customer through conversation.
KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING. YOU WANT TO
MAKE SURE YOU ARE PROVIDING VALUABLE,
RELEVANT, AND HELPFUL CONTENT AND SERVICES FROM START TO FINISH.
Even after your customer has taken the desired action and invested in your product or service, you must do all you can to ensure they continue to be delighted.
Remember, delighting your buyer doesn’t just mean getting her feedback (good or bad) to help you improve your content for future prospects, it also means making sure she feels heard and appreciated so you capture her as a promoter along her buyer’s journey. At this stage, you are focusing on becoming memorable to your customer.
PRINCIPLES OF INBOUND
So, we’ve broken down the stages of inbound, by now you might be thinking, that’s great, but how do I put these stages into practice as I’m creating content and engaging in conversations with my target audience? This is where the principles of inbound come in, or what HubSpot refers to as SCOPE. Let’s break down what each principle means and where it fits in its execution for inbound.
STANDARDIZE FOR CONSISTENCY
As you interact with your target audience, you will want to make sure there is absolutely no confusion or misunderstanding throughout your company. For example, it may be helpful to provide employees with a best practice guide for your conversation expectations with a target audience. Standardizing for consistency also carries over into your content—for example, consider if a graphic standards guide is necessary for what content you will be sharing and how you will be interacting with your audience across the board.
This means taking that standards guide, or rather, the content you’ve created from it, and delivering it to your audience in a timely, and relevant way—starting to sound more like the good old methodology now? This ensures you’re always providing the right content during the right stages of a buyer’s journey.
This means your content is improved for understanding, for every single person you are in communication with, across every single platform you are on. On the phone, across your website, via live chat, you name it. You’re striving to maintain value and consistency with the content you’ve made on the platform or channel you’re using. For example, you want to make sure you’re maintaining high-quality pictures and video clips across your Pinterest for your target audience, and similarly, ensuring that your customer service representatives are receiving customer complaints in a way that will reduce repetition and friction for the customer to receive an accurate and efficient answer.
This one’s pretty straightforward and it’s at the core of the inbound methodology. Take a humanistic approach to the content you are creating and make sure you are working towards developing relationships with the people on the receiving end. That’s all there is to it.
There are two responses you need to be prepared for every time you’re interacting with a customer: the informative response and the emotional response. While you should always provide the most accurate, honest answer possible to your customer, strive to create an emotionally connective response that emphasizes your customer’s value and meets them where they are. If a customer is frustrated, they’re looking for understanding; if your customer is excited, share in their enthusiasm. Remember to do this across each of your platforms, with every interaction you have with your target audience.
GOOD DESIGN MATTERS.
And we consider design to be the foundation a brand identity system is built on—which certainly affects all other aspects of your inbound marketing. Graphic design is all encompassing for every single visual element that’s a part of your brand identity architecture. Your logo falls into this category, but it also includes elements like your web design, social media graphics, business cards, stationary, uniforms, and the list goes on and on. Think about it. Everything had to be designed—from your shampoo bottle to the device you’re reading this on. But it’s more than that. Graphic design is a part of every touchpoint your target audience will have with your company throughout their buyer’s journey—it weaves together both your company’s visual identity and values.
YOUR GRAPHIC DESIGN WILL BECOME A STAPLE IN THE REPRESENTATION OF YOUR COMPANY AND IN TURN, YOUR BRAND.
HOW YOU USE YOUR WEBSITE
PLAYS A TREMENDOUS ROLE IN YOUR OVERALL BRANDING AND INBOUND STRATEGY.
Especially if you’re not a brick and mortar company, your website will act as your home base for your consumers to make purchases, where your central information exists, where you will turn strangers into leads, where you will link your social media efforts back to, and where the bulk of your high-quality content lives.
Your website is the foundation of your digital and web presence—and a key player when it comes to your branding. A website increases engagement and helps you establish footing when it comes to attracting, engaging, and delighting prospects. It’s the place where you can make the most out of your unique brand identity system. What’s more, it offers a way for you to measure success in your company’s goals
SOCIAL MEDIA HAS PROVEN ITSELF TO BE AN EXTREMELY ACCESSIBLE, EASY, AND BENEFICIAL WAY TO MOVE YOUR CONTENT IN FRONT OF YOUR RIGHT TARGET AUDIENCE.
Better yet, it’s the best place to be to see inbound in action: connecting, attracting, engaging, and delighting your target buyers. Be on social. Your target audience will be there—even if you’re not. If you’re lost, no worries. By engaging on social, you will optimize your social network, develop your tone across social platforms, strategize where you will achieve the most growth, and learn how to create content that will nurture your brand. There’s opportunity for your audience to like, share, engage and interact with your content by utilizing the right tools, giving you an opportunity to gain more valuable leads. While on social you have to decide if paid digital ads are right for you while also working to gain domain authority with your organic content across your online digital strategy through analytics. So, it’s time to ask yourself, are you ready to optimize your platforms and see real conversions with a social media strategy?
SO, WHO ARE YOU SELLING TO? WHAT TARGET MARKETS ARE YOU TRYING TO BREAK INTO? MORE IMPORTANTLY, HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE?
It helps to start by creating a buyer persona, or a fictional representation of your ideal customer. The role of your buyer persona is to help guide you in content creation that will help you attract, engage, and delight your real buyers. It’s at the core of your entire inbound strategy—and a critical part to the process. Not sure where to begin? Creative Arcade will work with you to shape your buyer personas to help you understand their goals, challenges, where they gain their information and more. Not only will we help develop your persona, but we will also help you put it to use—increasing your conversions to help you create quantified customers.
CONTENT IS WHAT DRIVES SOCIAL ENGAGEMENT, LEADS PEOPLE TO YOUR WEBSITE, GENERATES LEADS, TAKES PEOPLE THROUGH THEIR BUYER’S JOURNEY, AND MAKES THEM WANT MORE.
Content creation encompasses just about EVERYTHING you could be and should be doing to enhance your business. Need content inspiration?
WRITING FOR EBOOKS, GUIDES, WHITE PAPERS, AND BLOGS
SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN CONTENT CREATION
GRAPHICS AND VIDEOS OPTIMIZED FOR SOCIAL MEDIA
CUSTOM PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY PRODUCTION (DRONE CERTIFIED)
Don’t forget to incorporate your brand identity into your content, which includes elements such as graphic design, motion graphics, logos, and more.
Outbound, inbound, what the heck does all this terminology mean? In short, this is what an outbound marketing method vs an inbound marketing method might look like and the content that is created:
Initiating the conversation with a buyer through traditional marketing methods.
This content includes:
Creating content that provides meaning
to a target buyer, reversing the relationship between buyer and selling—allowing the buyer to find you by creating valuable content. This content includes:
ONLINE GRAPHICS AND VIDEOS
SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS
Because we live in such a digital heavy environment, rather than having your inbound marketing efforts support your outbound marketing, it is your outbound that should be supporting your inbound—with an emphasis on attracting, engaging, and delighting a customer by allowing them to find value in your content. While we believe there is a place for both in your marketing strategy, but the power of the internet has given us a unique opportunity to emphasize the customer with inbound.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
You have an awesome business. Now how do people find you? Through the search engine, of course. People type in everything to Google, to find products, services, and to get answers to their burning questions. So how can you boost your rank in the SEO and help your business grow online when they hit search? We’ll work with you to find the answers. Whether it’s evaluating your content marketing strategy, social platforms, or any other channels linked to the SEO, we’ll work with you to hit your target goals. It’s humans typing what they want into Google, that’s why we optimize for human search behavior. This means measuring and testing keyword search, conversion optimization, traffic, and A/B testing again and again. We’ll work with you to create the best SEO solution for you.
WITH INBOUND, YOU DON’T WANT TO BE A DISRUPTOR—YOU WANT TO ATTRACT YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE TO YOUR BUSINESS ORGANICALLY, LEADING THEM THROUGH THE STAGES OF THEIR BUYER’S JOURNEY.
We know, this sounds like a process—and it is. But it is the best way to develop leads, or people in your target audience who have already opened communication channels with you. Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers to your business – prospects – someone who has indicated interest in your services.
How does this process work? We’ll give you an example:
• YOU MAKE AN AWESOME PIECE OF HIGH-QUALITY CONTENT AND SHARE IT ACROSS YOUR WEBSITE, SOCIAL CHANNELS, BLOG ETC.
• A VISITOR FINDS YOUR CONTENT, CLICKS ON YOUR CTA
• AND IS TAKEN TO A LANDING PAGE
• THEY FILL OUT A FORM FOR YOUR CONTENT OFFER
• AND VOILA! THEY JUST BECAME A LEAD
But after you’ve generated a lead, the work is far from over; ultimately, you want them to become your customers and promotors. Like we said, it’s a process; one that we have experience and understanding in to help you generate valuable leads while creating content that continues to engage and delight them before, during, and after they become promotors for your organization.
The inbound method has always emphasized meeting people where they’re at in their buyer’s journey and adding value to each stage.
That’s why seeing this process as a flywheel just makes sense. It proves that that the buyer’s journey never really ends—the circle just grows. Attracting, engaging, and delighting the buyer over…and over…and over again.