Going Inbound To Grow
Consumers are doing more and more research online, oftentimes relying on review sites like Yelp and Google to help them make informed purchase decisions. Today, companies that don’t have a healthy and robust digital presence won’t be able to effectively and efficiently tell their stories. In the branding and marketing world, there are two approaches on how to build awareness for your products and services.
Traditionally, companies have relied on outbound marketing techniques to build brand awareness and increase revenue. Products and services are promoted through continued advertising, promotions, public relations and sales. At its core, outbound marketing is seller-centric, often utilizing techniques like cold calling, SPAM emails and intrusive advertising.
However, if you think about these techniques, consumers have figured out ways to ignore these messages. We utilize services such as DVR to skip commercials, caller ID to screen our phone calls, and SPAM filters to prevent unwanted emails from making their way to our inboxes.
THE SHIFT TO INBOUND
Forward-thinking companies have made the shift to deploy inbound marketing techniques to help grow their business. Inbound marketing, in contrast, is very buyer-centric — think calling with context, relevant emails and helpful content that actually answers the buyers’ problems. Inbound marketing draws customers to your products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and branding. Because of the digital signatures we leave behind, emails and phone calls can be more relevant — things we are actually interested in!
Through the inbound marketing approach, companies attract new customers by delivering relevant and helpful content that adds value at every stage in the buyer’s journey. Individuals are nurtured through the various stages of inbound marketing where the consumer moves from stranger to visitor to lead to customer to referral. This journey through the various stages is cultivated by different tools and techniques, such as blog and social publishing, calls-to-action and forms, email campaigns and customer surveys.
Many companies today still spend about 90 percent of their time on outbound techniques and only 10 percent of their time on inbound techniques. When you consider this, and the fact that 54 percent more leads are generated by inbound tactics than traditional paid marketing, it’s clear to me that inbound is a better approach.
LEAD GENERATION 101
To implement an effective inbound marketing strategy, we need to first take a refresher in online lead generation. Prospects are enticed to visit your website for a piece of content through a call-to-action. Once clicked, this call to action directs a prospect to a landing page or lead capture page. This singular web page has one goal: convert the prospect to a lead by entering information about themselves into a form in exchange for whatever piece of content you are offering.
Once the form information is captured, the lead is redirected to a thank you page where the promised content is delivered, and next steps can be discussed and presented. Many stop the initial lead generation process there; however, a best practice is to follow up the thank you page with a customized email. In a follow-up email, you’re not only able to deliver the content directly to their inbox, but you are able to engage with the lead in another format and touchpoint, email.
The best inbound marketing approach utilizes a multi-channel method of communication to ensure you reach people on a variety of different platforms, including web, email, social, blog and ads.
Prospects are attracted to your website for content via strategically placed calls-to-action. Gated content is online materials such as white papers, case studies, marketing collateral, infographics, etc. that require a user to fill out a form before they can access the content. Marketing automation software can send real-time alerts to a salesperson whenever a prospect converts to a lead by filling out a form on a landing page. This ensures the salesperson can reach out immediately and with context which is extremely important when you consider that you are 7X more likely to win a deal if you respond to a prospect in less than an hour vs. in two hours.
An effective inbound marketing approach using email allows you to expand top-of-the-funnel awareness activity by automating emails through the use of workflows. These emails serve the purpose of nurturing prospects along their journey. Nurtured leads produce on average a 20 percent increase in sales opportunities vs. non-nurtured leads. Inbound email activity should be very specific to the prospects' needs and problems you are trying to solve. The contact information that you capture from the form on the landing pages ideally allows you to deliver the right content, to the right contact, at the right time.
You’ve spent a lot of time building a social following, now make sure you engage that audience by building brand awareness on the social networks where your target audience is already naturally and regularly hanging out. Social posts directing prospects to landing pages or utilizing quotes and testimonials from satisfied customers are great types of content to use. If you think posting on social media about your products will take too much effort or worse, be a complete waste of time, you couldn’t be more wrong. 60 percent of users learn about new products on Instagram. By repurposing and reformatting existing content like case studies and blog posts for social media use, you can work smarter — not harder.
Every article that you publish on your blog is a long-term asset that both builds brand awareness and provides valuable and educational information to your target audience. By writing blog posts that address your prospects’ problems you can increase traffic to your blog, resulting in an increase in leads with the ultimate goal of increasing revenue. Blogs should aim to be educational and not overly promotional. Having a blog is an important part of lead generation and inbound marketing when you consider 67 more leads are generated per month for companies with blogs versus companies without.
You’ve got a great network of followers — conversely, there are a ton people out there who still don’t know that you exist. Social ads allow you to insert yourself into the conversation. The trick with ads and still being “inbound” is to make sure you are targeting correctly so you are only supplying relevant and helpful information to the buyer. Some consumers like ads, others tolerate ads, while some despise ads, but when two-thirds of consumers can recall a specific brand they have seen advertised on mobile in the last week, it’s pretty clear social ads need to play a part in your inbound strategy.
Inbound marketing transforms strangers to promoters using lifecycle marketing. Through each touchpoint, content is created and distributed with the goal of solving prospects’ and customers’ needs. Additionally, content is personalized to the wants and needs of the people viewing it and a multi-channel communication approach is used to speak to people where they naturally reside.
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**This post originally appeared on the BODDHI Blog.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Skaggs is the co-founder of BODDHI Branding, a creative agency with a vision to authentically and creatively construct stories to help your brand grow. Digital and social media, branding, recruitment and content strategy are all functions Chris has developed building teams, processes and strategies from the ground-up. Dedicated to giving back Chris also co-founded Leighton’s Gift, a non-profit with a mission of turning a tragedy into something positive. He also serves on the boards of a variety of different organizations. A natural storyteller, Chris’ work and experiences have been featured on CNN, Marketing Sherpa, Thrive Global, CBS Radio, Recruiter.com and Glassdoor. Get connected online, @chrislskaggs.