Everyone knows about inbound marketing, right?
I recently spoke at an event in London with a bunch of talented founders of companies in industries ranging from enterprise software to men’s grooming.
Ahead of time I knew I wanted to talk about inbound marketing with the audience, and share some of the tips and learnings I’ve picked up growing GoSquared. In the world I live in, people are talking about inbound marketing all day every day. But I wasn’t sure how many people in the room were already experts in this field. So I asked them for a quick show of hands.
“Who’s heard of inbound marketing before?”
To my amazement, when I asked that question to a room full of founders only 25% of the room stuck their hands up. Surely that can’t be right. Here I am on the 31st floor of a very swanky office building with a group of people who all run successful companies in the 21st Century. So I asked again, just to check. 25% of the room had heard the term inbound marketing before.
So I was thinking… If a room full of founders had barely heard of inbound marketing, then maybe now might be a good time to share some of the inbound marketing tips I’ve learnt along the way on the GoSquared blog. I’ve also copied in the slides I presented at the end of this post. If you want something more visual, just skip down!
What is inbound marketing?
The best way to explain inbound marketing that I’ve come across is a simple pair of similes. Traditional marketing is like using a sledgehammer to break through the noise and get in front of consumers, while inbound marketing is like using a magnet to attract potential customers to you.
A useful way to understand what inbound is and how it works for sales and marketing is to break it into a funnel. There are four core steps: attracting, converting, closing, and delighting customers.
Step one is to attract visitors to your site by producing great content that’s relevant to your industry and the product or service you sell.
It’s not just about producing content and hoping customers will knock on your door. You have to do everything you can to maximise the value of that content.
A few ideas include:
- Ensuring you’re optimising pages for search engines.
- Building a presence on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
- Finding ways to repurpose your content for greater reach – like putting a video on Youtube with a snippet on Vine, and an image on Instagram.
- You could even try running an event to attract your ideal audience.
Converting visitors into leads
Step two is to convert the visitors on your site into leads and into people that you can contact again and built a rapport with.
There’s a bunch of ways to convert visitors into leads. A few ideas include:
- We might be a little biased, but we’ve found using live chat software on your marketing site is one of the best ways to engage visitors and turn them into leads.
- Adding call-to-action buttons (CTAs) at the end of your blog posts to encourage visitors to signup for your mailing list.
- Using A/B testing to experiment with different landing pages to optimise conversion rates across your site.
- Producing content that is behind lead-generation forms. This tip helps you understand who is downloading your content and find potential customers.
Closing sales and winning customers
Step three is to use content and inbound methods to convert leads into paying customers. Find the people that fit best and avoid being an irritation to those who do not.
A few ideas for closing more sales with inbound techniques:
- Trigger drip email campaigns for existing leads with further relevant content.
- Provide easy calls-to-action in your newsletter and on your blog to trial your service.
- For developer-focused services, ensure your API documentation answers the problems potential customers might have during their onboarding.
Delighting customers and creating fans
Step four is perhaps the least talked about, but it’s no less important. Delighting your customers ensures they stay with you for longer and encourages word-of-mouth buzz and the opportunity to win more new customers.
A few ideas for delighting your customers:
- Connect with them socially. Follow your customers on Twitter and offer them a clear way to reach out and contact you.
- Proactively offer support to customers. If a customer is struggling with a specific feature or with getting started and hasn’t reached out to you via email, try reaching out personally to offer assistance.
- Measure your impact by tracking NPS – Net Promoter Score. NPS is calculated based on asking your customers how likely they are to recommend your product to a friend on a scale of 1 to 10. Hint: anything below 7 is not good enough.
Why inbound marketing?
The reasons to adopt an inbound marketing strategy are endless. The key thing to bear in mind is that the consumer has changed over the last 10 years. The rise of the web and mobile have brought the world’s information to every consumer’s fingertips.
Blasting out a marketing message with posters, TV, radio, and newspaper advertising is not the only way to get in front of customers. In fact, the traditional approach is often a very expensive way to attract customers because it’s so broad – you can waste a lot of money getting in front of people who might never buy your product or service.
If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.
– Jeff Bezos
Inbound marketing is about attracting potential customers to you to find out more about you. Inbound is not about interrupting people, it’s about being there and ready when a consumer decides they need you. Inbound is about being the guiding light when they need help and assistance. You should aim to produce content that is so valuable and so relevant that the consumer of that content feels compelled to learn more.
We are well into the 21st century. The consumer has changed. Inbound marketing is a proven way to reach the 21st century consumer in a reliable, measurable, and more affordable way.
How to implement an inbound marketing strategy – 5 key tips
1. Decide who and what you’re fighting for
Above all else, figure out who and what you’re fighting for: define your ideal customer and obsess over understanding them. Too many businesses spend a lot of money and time on producing content for blogs and social media but waste it because it fails to resonate with their value proposition.
2. Lead your tribe
Following on from point 1, once you know who you’re fighting for, make sure you produce content that leads the thinking in that space. No one cares about mediocre blog posts. Strive to be the thought leader in your industry. Be the source of news, inspiration and learning for your potential customers.
Producing content takes time but isn’t hard. Producing content that causes people to think, and that changes the way people view the world around them, that’s really difficult. The upside is enormous and that is where the opportunity lies.
3. Create a content schedule
One of the biggest challenges with forming an inbound marketing strategy is maintaining consistency.
It may sound simple, but taking the time to put together a calendar with your upcoming marketing activities can massively help you to stay organised.
Don’t just put your upcoming blog posts in the calendar. Add key industry events, put relevant holidays in there and include anything that constitutes a good reason or opportunity to share your message.
As we’re just about to hit 2015, now is the perfect time to map out your year and uncover the events you should be jumping on.
4. Amplify your content
Don’t just write a blog post. Promote it. There’s a huge amount of opportunity in amplifying and re-using your existing content.
If you have a blog, consider re-purposing your content for other platforms and social networks. For example, try posting older-but-still-relevant blog posts onto the Medium blogging network to re-energise them.
If you have produced video content, try taking a small segment and turning it into a Vine. And then go one step further and take a single frame and put it on Instagram.
If you have a mailing list, don’t miss the opportunity to email your existing email subscribers about new posts and content – if they’ve already opted in to hear more from you, it’s the perfect opportunity to bring them up-to-date with your latest content.
5. Measure everything but choose a few key metrics to focus on
As with any form of marketing, it’s critical that you measure the process from start to finish.
Choose the key metrics that matter and track them. Looking at the inbound marketing funnel can really help you to understand where you can improve and what to measure at each step.
Is your Twitter follower count a vanity metric? Not necessarily – it’s entirely possible that as your followers grow, so do your inbound leads, and ultimately your number of customers. You will only know if you experiment and measure the results.
Measurement is the first step that leads to control and eventually to improvement. If you can’t measure something, you can’t understand it. If you can’t understand it, you can’t control it. If you can’t control it, you can’t improve it.
– H. James Harrington
Remember – it’s hard to improve what you don’t measure.
Inbound marketing in 30 slides
Here are the slides from the talk on inbound marketing that led to this post. This SlideShare is full of tips, advice, and high level insights to help you kickstart your inbound strategy.