When was the last time you decided you might want to buy something – let’s say a car – and simply followed the TV ad for the latest Volkswagen straight to the showroom for a test drive?
Today, the first thing anyone does is open Google. And then research, research, research.
In this case, the consumer may conduct a Google search for luxury sedans, or maybe for Volkswagen sedans. They may even simply search for ‘new cars launched in 2015’. Which means that when your consumer researches a line of products on the internet, what they’re basically looking for is information.
The idea today is to create awareness, provide useful information and draw attention. With the Internet as cluttered as it is, that isn’t going to be a straightforward process.
You assume the product advertisements you’re putting out there are being read and absorbed as you’re writing them. But let’s face it, with the sheer volume of content on the Internet, the chances of your Google or Facebook advertisement bringing in instant leads – never mind customers – is next to none.
Today’s consumer is wary of what he’s being shown on the internet – he doesn’t trust easily, he would much rather read up and gather information for himself. He will read some blogs, watch a test drive video, check out your Facebook page and website and gather all the information he can before he decides to fill up that enquiry form or call in at your office.
In this digital world that allows people to block out so many traditional marketing practices, your brand is going to need a voice. And that’s where inbound marketing comes in.
What’s inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is all about drawing your consumers in with well-placed, well-planned content that’s engaging rather than being interruptive.
You want to place information in front of your customer that will educate him in the field (while establishing your thought leadership) and then as he enters the buying cycle, inform him about your product, educate him about how it will solve his problem and then convert him into a lead.
Of course, it doesn’t end there. You still need to nurture your leads in order to close them and keep your existing customers happy. A bit of thoughtful, informative content goes a long way.
Inbound marketing strategies done right:
When you use inbound marketing, you need to ensure you’re reaching out to the right people at the right time, with the right content and on the right platforms.
Right people = your exact buyer personas
Right time = based on their position in the buyer cycle
Right content = that will inform and delight them
Right platforms = that they use and frequent
For example, let’s assume you’re a company selling starter homes. You know your ideal audience would be first-time buyers – so first you need to tap into addressing the problems that these buyers would be facing even before they know about your product. Publish SEO-optimised blog posts about “10 reasons why owning a home is the best feeling in the world”, or maybe “Home buying tips for the first time home buyer”, then push them across social media.
You can then start publishing creative, informative blogs about your product as well, so that they look to it as a solution. Embed your blogs with calls-to-action that lead to your landing page.
That’s not where it ends of course – you also need to ensure you nurture your leads and engage your customers, so they turn into brand advocates.
Let’s take a look at what channels you should be using for your inbound marketing strategy:
- Websites/Landing Page – optimized for search engines
- Blogs – optimized for search engines
- Social media
- Case studies
- White papers
Some of these are more ideal to bring in new users while some of them are more ideal for prospective customers or existing customers.
You also need to ensure that you use content platforms to their strengths. For example, your emailers should be personalized, your newsletters more direct. You should know how to get engagement on Facebook and Twitter – don’t use the same content on both platforms! We’ll be addressing more of this – writing content that masters inbound marketing – in our next blog.
It’s important to note here that you can’t simply ignore the outbound side of things – you’re going to need a bit of push marketing as well to see those conversions. One thing’s for sure though, in today’s world, it’s impossible for brands to make it without inbound marketing.