What is this buzzword everyone seems to be talking about "Inbound Marketing?"Also, how do you get started with it? From my perspective, as I've watched marketing evolve over the years, Inbound Marketing is today's version of pure marketing. Content, social media, SEO, and such are just the tactical execution of broader marketing strategy. The goal should always be to understand your ideal customer and the path they take to making or repeating a purchase with your company.
So what are the things you should be doing to start the process to successfully market your company?
- Social Media
- Understanding your Buyer
These days, if you don't have a fast, responsive, well-branded website, you might as well shut your doors. For businesses relying solely on traditional adverstising, such as direct mail, eventually the phone will stop ringing. At some point in your customer's journey to purchase from you, they will more than likely have visited your website. Therefore, your website should clearly answer the questions your customers are asking and articulate (in as few words possible) how what you offer will benefit their life (rather than go too deep into features). In regard to the design itself, it doesn't have to the best looking site in the world to be effective. Design should never outshine your content. That said, your design should be current, which means you should at least keep up with the current standards: Responsive, fast page speed, optimized for inbound, maybe consider AMP, etc.
A blog on your site is probably one of the strongest strategies you could incorporate into your marketing efforts. By blogging regularly (try for at least once a week), you will yeild many benefits over time.
- Automating the Buying Journey. If a customer asks a question about your business, don't just answer it then and there, but write a post about it as well. That way if someone else has the same question, they have the answer whether you're available or not.
- Search Engine Optimization. It's no longer about optimizing for specific keywords. More and more, good quality content is what rises in the ranks. So the more you blog, the better your chances are to be found in the search rankings. Now that doesn't mean there aren't some techniques to use, like making sure your meta tags are written and image alt tags are done right. But we'll save that for later.
- Learning more. By immersing yourself into your business via blogging, you'll discover how to better communicate with your customers and what it is they really need. Often, we get so in tuned with our day to day, that we forget to step back and listen to our customers. Plus, if you're using analytics and tracking your data, you can see what posts and content interestd them more.
Being active where your customers are active, is the best way to connect with them outside of your business. The main thing to remember is that social media is SOCIAL. Don't always try to promote your business, just as you wouldn't tell your friends in every conversation, "Hey have you checked out my new site?" Ask questions, give advice, share your insightful blog posts, promote someone else's business, inspire with compelling quotes, motivate, etc. At the end of the day, we're human and the companies that leverage social media in a way that connects on human level will win.
Yes, email is still valid. Just don't spam people!! We see excellent open rates and click through rates for emails that are genuine and targeted to buyers that resonate with your products and service. Try to avoid sending the wrong message to your audience. For example, don't send an email to someone who is interested cars an email about trucks, that's counterproductive and will them feeling spammed. But an original email with insightful content to the right target will be received and read with pleasure.
Understanding your Buyer
All of this is shooting in the dark if you don't know your buyer. You need to take the time to do a deep dive into the demographics and psychographics of your prime prospects. You can learn their hobbies, their buying habits, the reasons they like buying from you, their needs, etc. All of this will help you speak to your customers on a more even level. Not only that, but people refer their friends to the people and businesses they like. If they see you as just another impersonal business interested in a quick transaction, the likelihood that they will refer you decreases dramatically.
Understanding your buyer is all about taking the time to get to know your customers and communicating with them authentically. Don't spam them, but be active. Be a resource for knowledge in your industry, where people can go to to learn more about your products or services. Be available for them to get to know you and your company. Marketing is all about sharing your knowledge and connecting with people so that your prospects can find you on their journey to becoming your next client.