The fiercely competitive and consumer-driven market today demands a new and innovative approach to advertising. Consumers are flooded with a plethora of options for any product or service they need. Brands that blow their own trumpets through television commercials, print ads, or banners often fail to attract potential customers. Because of this, wooing your target audience can be a herculean task.
This necessitates the need to develop a powerful inbound marketing strategy. This can help you attract customers towards your brand instead of advertising your products or services to them. This approach uses new methods such as content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization, and pay-per-click advertising.
The Advantages of Inbound Marketing
The biggest difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing (or interruption marketing) is the way in which you reach your target audience.
Inbound marketing is all about being found by your potential customers in an organic way instead of pushing your products or services to them. It gives you the chance to add value to your customers through relevant and meaningful content in the form of blog posts, infographics, or social media posts. This is perhaps the reason why search has become the highest driver of traffic to sites, even outpacing social media.
Image via Shareaholic
One of the most significant benefits of inbound marketing is that it helps you earn the trust of your target audience. It also builds credibility by establishing you as an expert in a particular niche. This, in turn, helps you establish long-term relationships with your audience. As a result, you might also experience a boost in customer retention and loyalty.
Image via WordStream
It is evident that inbound marketing is far more effective at grabbing the attention of your potential customers. Instead of resorting to in-your-face promotional tactics, you should focus on creating valuable content that will attract the right audience.
Now let’s take a look at the steps to build a power-packed inbound marketing strategy.
Crafting a Strong Inbound Marketing Strategy
Inbound marketing may include content creation and distribution, search engine optimization, PPC advertising, and social media marketing. However, developing and executing a proper inbound marketing strategy requires meticulous planning. For instance, you need to know when to use SEO or PPC campaigns to reach your target audience.
It also requires a deep understanding of inbound methodology, which is comprised of four stages as shown in the image below:
Image via LYFE Marketing
Before you start working on content creation, SEO, and social media marketing, it is crucial to outline a clear inbound marketing strategy. Here’s how:
1. Define Your Target Audience
Any form of marketing, traditional or otherwise, requires a clear understanding of your target audience. And inbound marketing is no exception. If you want to attract potential customers through your content, it is crucial to define who your target audience is.
In addition to basic demographics such as age, profession, and geographic location, you should also get insights into their online behavior. Knowing what devices they use and how they communicate will help you deliver content in a form that will immediately strike a chord with them.
Additionally, you should also keep in mind that everyone in your target audience isn’t at the same stage of the buyer’s journey. So, it helps if you define buyer personas i.e. a fictional representation of your ideal customers. This will help you customize your content to cater to each type of buyer persona.
2. Identify Marketing Triggers
Inbound marketing thrives on the needs and pain points of your target audience. So it is important to identify the events that cause them to search for information related to your brand, product, or service.
These events are defined as marketing triggers and can help you target potential customers at the right times.
Let’s say you own a store for home décor and furniture. Such products are mostly purchased by people who are setting up a new home, relocating to a new place, or renovating their existing house.
These are the marketing triggers for your target audience. Identifying these triggers will help you deliver valuable content to your potential customers at the right times, i.e. when they are searching for new furniture or home décor products.
Apple, for instance, understands its target audience very well. They have crafted ads which target business professionals who want to be more efficient and productive at work. These ads show users scrolling through stock charts and investment portfolios. This makes these ads quite relevant to business professionals.
Image via YouTube
3. Set Clear Goals
In order to measure the ROI and success of your inbound marketing strategy, it is crucial to define precise and attainable goals.
Setting a goal such a “expand reach” is vague and difficult to measure. A clever way to outline your goals is to use the SMART approach that requires your goals to be:
Image via LYFE Marketing
Depending on the size and nature of your business, you can define goals such as:
- Attract 1000 Instagram followers in a month
- Increase website traffic by 10% in four weeks
- Get 5% of website visitors to sign-up to your newsletter
4. Define KPIs
Once you have outlined these goals, it is time to set your key performance indicators (KPIs). These are the metrics that will help you measure the success of your inbound marketing strategy.
Depending on your end goals, you can set KPIs such as:
- Social media follower count
- Number of website visitors
- Conversion rate
- Number of leads generated
5. Perform Extensive Keyword Research
Keyword research will help you identify the search queries that your target audience is likely to use when searching for information related to your brand or industry. To find relevant keywords, you can use tools such as Google Keyword Planner, Moz Keyword Explorer, or KWFinder.
Once you have selected the keywords you want to target, you should analyze them to find the search volume and level of competition associated with them. You should also evaluate the cost associated with each one of these keywords to pick the ones that can be used for PPC advertising.
It is advisable that you select those keywords that promise high search volume and low or medium competition. Once you have picked the keywords you want to target, you need to create unique, relevant, and valuable content using your keywords.
Make sure you don’t indulge in unethical practices such as keyword stuffing and content scraping. Instead, you should focus on creating meaningful content that integrates the keywords into your content a seamless manner.
6. Outline a Solid Content Strategy
High-quality content is the lifeblood of your inbound marketing strategy. In its absence, you will fail to hold the attention of your target audience and convert them into paying customers. So, no wonder that more than 50% of marketers planned to increase their content marketing budgets in 2018.
However, before you start with content development, you should define the type of content that will resonate with prospects in different stages of the buyer’s journey.
For instance, people in the awareness stage of the buyer’s journey may look for general information about your brand and its products or services. Blog posts, videos, infographics, and SlideShare presentations are some of the content types that may appeal to them.
In addition, blog posts seem to be the most popular form of content. About 55% of marketers consider them to be their top priority in inbound marketing.
On the other hand, people in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey may seek more information about your brand. Webinars, case studies, whitepapers, or brochures are some of the most effective types of content for people in this stage.
Likewise, people in the decision stage might be waiting for just a little push before they make a purchase. Offering a free trial, live demo, or cost estimate might help you close the deal quickly.
BidPrime, for instance, found that free trials worked much better for them as compared to live sales presentations. They were able to meet their sales targets easily through this method.
Obviously, it is important that you tailor your content for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
You should also conduct a thorough content audit to understand how your existing content is performing. Identify any gaps and revise your content strategy to fill them. Make sure your content addresses the concerns and needs of each of your buyer personas in different stages of the buyer’s journey.
In addition to this, you should also define an extensive content distribution plan. Creating top-notch content is of no use unless it gets discovered by the right people.
You can increase the reach of your content using various tactics including SEO, social media marketing, and guest blogging.
7. Develop a Lead Nurturing Process
The main focus of your inbound marketing strategy is to attract leads and convert them into paying customers.
While some prospects make a purchase decision very quickly, others may take more time to make a decision. This may be because they are looking for more information about your product or service before making a purchase.
So, it is crucial to have a lead nurturing process in place to maintain constant communication with your potential customers. One of the most effective tactics is to use a series of automated emails to engage them on a regular basis. This will help you stay alive in their memory and give them an extra nudge to consider buying your product or availing your service.
Developing a strong inbound marketing strategy requires that you have an in-depth understanding of your potential customers. Defining buyer personas and identifying their marketing triggers can be extremely helpful.
You will also need a thorough knowledge of different tactics such as SEO, PPC advertising, content marketing, and social media marketing.
Finally, the quality of your content can make or break your inbound marketing strategy. You should create different types of content for buyer personas in different stages such as awareness, consideration, and decision.
Make sure you promote your content on different distribution channels so that reaches the right audiences at the right times.
What do you think is the most crucial step in developing an inbound marketing strategy? Let us know in the comments below.