What do you do when you’re watching a YouTube video and an ad pops up?
Do you get all excited and watch through the entire ad?
Or do you just zone out for a few seconds and then click the skip ad button?
I’m guessing you usually do the latter. But don’t worry, you’re not alone.
People are getting very sick of being sold to. It seems nowadays everywhere you go, someone, somewhere is trying to sell you something you don’t need.
This is where inbound marketing comes in. Inbound marketing takes the approach of attracting customers by providing them with value, not blasting them with ads and cold calls.
In this article, were going to go over everything you need to know about inbound marketing, so you can take your digital marketing efforts to the next level.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is all about attracting customers by providing them with valuable content.
It’s the process of attracting, converting and closing customers with content tailored to them and their stage in the buyer’s journey.
Inbound marketing is so powerful because it puts all of the power in the customer’s hands. The customer has the choice to read that blog post, follow your social media, opt-in to your newsletter, etc.
By giving the customer all of the power, you build trust and credibility because unlike an ad, if your content isn’t good, they can just choose not to consume it.
The Buyer’s Journey
The buyer’s journey is just what it sounds like. It’s the journey a person takes before making a purchasing decision.
The buyer’s journey consists of 3 primary stages:
Each stage requires different forms and types of content. For example, someone just becoming aware of a problem wouldn’t get much value out of a product/vendor comparison. However, they would get a lot of value out of a high-level blog post outlining their problem.
You should be producing content aimed to accompany the buyer through their entire journey. This is where marketing automation comes in handy. You can do things like segment your email list based on what stage in the buyer’s journey they’re on. You can then serve them content aimed at that stage so the content is relevant to them.
But what type of content should you be creating for each stage?
Inbound Marketing Tactics
Here are the primary tactics that make up inbound marketing. Keep in mind that without a solid inbound marketing strategy, your tactics will be ineffective.
Content Marketing is the foundation of inbound marketing, it’s what holds everything up. Almost all other tactics are dependent on the content you create. For example, you can’t do SEO without content to rank.
Because of its importance, the only way to succeed in inbound marketing is to make really good content. Make sure you hone-in your content creation skills before you start implementing different tactics.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is a great way to attract people that are just becoming aware of a problem. This in combination with SEO is how you’ll primarily be driving traffic to your blog posts and website.
A solid social media strategy is essential for success. You need to set in stone your goals, audience personas, strategy, tone, schedule and more. The plan should also be constantly reviewed and updated.
You’re probably sick of hearing about SEO, but that it doesn’t take away from its importance. SEO, if done correctly, can drastically increase your inbound marketing ROI.
The key to ranking well is to have good content. Algorithms change and things happen that are outside of your control. So by optimizing your content for humans first, and algorithms second, you make your rankings resilient to search engine updates and changes.
Landing pages are an essential part of inbound marketing. This is where leads go after clicking a call-to-action, where you collect their contact information, where you convert them, and more! Without a solid web presence, you’re at a severe disadvantage.
The most essential part of a successful landing page is a firm understanding of user intent. Understanding what the user wants will allow you to create an experience tailored to them.
Another essential part of a successful landing page is performing constant conversion rate optimization. Avoiding common mistakes and performing things like A/B testing will allow you to get the most out inbound marketing.
Marketing automation allows you to spend more time doing creative and analytical work, rather than boring repetitive tasks.
Stop doing things like setting reminders to post on social media. With marketing automation, you can instead just schedule your social media posts days, weeks, months, and even years in advance.
You can also stop sending email blasts manually. You can instead use email marketing tools to segment your audience and serve more relevant content automatically and consistently.
Data & Analytics
Data and analytics allow you to gain insight into customer behaviors and trends. You can also track your KPIs(key point indicators) so you know how well you’re doing and what you can be doing better.
For website analytics, I recommend Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Tag Manager to achieve across the board coverage. For social media, I recommend leveraging third-party analytical tools as they tend to offer more insight then native tools.
It’s also important to set S.M.A.R.T goals and consistently review your progress in achieving those goals. I recommend reviewing website analytics bi-weekly and social media analytics weekly.
Where to Start
Now that you understand how powerful inbound marketing can be, you’re wondering where to start.
I recommend starting with a documented marketing plan if you don’t already have one. Once a marketing plan is put in place, I would develop a content strategy. A documented content strategy will make content creation easier, align content marketing with business goals, and ensure consistency throughout the content.
From there I would start implementing tactics and analyze the analytics, making adjustments along the way. At the same time, I would start implementing marketing automation where I see fit.
Once you start generating consistent traffic to your site, I would start optimizing the conversion rate to ensure I’m getting the most out of my inbound marketing efforts.
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