We live in a world of connectivity; the number of mobile phone subscriptions outnumbers inhabitants. When the world wide web connects people across oceans and continents, online services, networking pages, blogs, forums are increasing every minute. Are the companies aware of the consumers’ need to be connected and be part of a dialogue? Are companies adopting marketing models and interaction approaches such as inbound marketing and content marketing to their advertising concepts? Let us find out.
The internet is no longer a medium of ‘new economy’ and ‘E-business’ as a term has rather been rendered obsolete. The internet is now used in all industries as a branding and marketing tool, an internal communication tool, and starting most business transactions. Today businesses use it as one of the most powerful tools and have unlocked a large number of search options and new ways of highlighting the important aspects of any business. Thus marketing has now been refined via models such as inbound marketing and content marketing and given even small businesses a chance to promote and brand their products globally.
Since its inception in 2005, inbound marketing has become one of the chief marketing techniques for online business relations. Inbound marketing focuses on earning your targeted audiences’ interest instead of traditional marketing methods of buying attention through advertisements, cold calling, and distributing flyers. This can be achieved by the latest digital marketing trends such as creating quality content through mediums such as blog posts, podcasts, videos, social media marketing, SEO, and other valuable content to attract the targeted audience. It helps to focus more on the intricate process that targets potential customers at different levels.
Content marketing is a modern-day marketing strategy of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage the targeted audience. It aims at driving profitable customer action in a clearly defined way. It can act as fuel for everything you strive to achieve, depending on your audience and goals. Content marketing most likely includes articles, blogs, videos, surveys, webinars and eBooks.
Difference between inbound and content marketing
Inbound marketing focuses on attracting customers through valuable content and interactions that are relevant and helpful. On the other hand, content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and consistent content to attract and retain customers to drive profitable customer action. The types of inbound marketing include Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web design, social media, PPC, permission bases email marketing and lead marketing. Whereas, the types of content marketing include blogs, eBooks, videos, email newsletters, and guides.
Content marketing focuses on a broad target audience while Inbound marketing reaches out to specific buyer personas. Although content marketing revolves around building relationships through valuable content, Inbound marketing is the bigger picture that uses different approaches and concepts to inspire a customer to act in favor of your business.
Similarities between inbound and content marketing
The basic similarity between inbound and content marketing is content. Both of the terminologies might be different but the central ingredient of both strategies is ‘content’. We can say that it is the lifeblood of both strategies. Both of them are impossible without the production of creative content.
Inbound marketing and content marketing are similar because they both involve a holistic view of marketing that focuses on satisfying visitors’ or clients’ needs. Both are non-interruptive and modern marketing methods. Inbound and content marketing rely on the slow, steady creation of a relationship between the business and their clients to make a sale. Conclusively, they may have the same end goal but the methods they involve are different. Neither method is better than the other and both methods, when used together, can create some fantastic results.
Examples of successful Inbound Marketing Strategies
Inbound marketing is known to generate leads cost-effectively, establish brand authority and increase exposure. Here are some of the renowned brands and their approaches to inbound marketing:
With some of the brightest minds at their disposal, Nike has time and again adapted to inbound marketing strategies such as blogging, influencer marketing and publishing content through social media. Nike’s inbound marketing approach- harnessing data for user insights and creating a diverse, social and engaged digital strategy, has had excellent results. With over 175 million followers on Instagram and 15 million likes on Facebook, Nike posts typically see a high level of interaction and discussion with its customers.
As it reaches over 200 million fans every day in an interactive dialogue, Nike moved its social media marketing team in-house to have a closer connection to the data and the conversations being generated by its fans. It focuses on content creation and celebrity endorsements to emotionally engage potential leads.
Uber is infamous for disrupting the taxi industry through its expert use of digital marketing trends. The reason behind this is its ability to communicate with consumers in the space where communication was already happening. Although the cab industry wasn’t engaging with its customers’ digital conversation, Uber took over and needless to say social platforms are an integral part of Uber’s inbound marketing strategy.
The company capitalizes on digital engagement to increase ridership as well as increase the number of drivers on the road. Uber’s inclusive messaging across the internet focuses on inclusion, connectivity and awareness.
Many tech companies incorporate their inbound marketing buyer personas or ideal customers into their marketing strategies and Apple is no different. This concept was a staple in their classic PC vs Mac ads. Apple has also done well to create a strong following of customers loyal to their brand and retaining them by listening to their customers and creating complementary products.
Apple takes the feedback of its customers and incorporates it into its services and marketing campaigns. Creating these special offers for users receives customer information and data insights to work in their future product lines. Their product posts on social media that have a huge following of more than 25 million emanate relatable life moments and features people connecting. It creates a positive brand identity by conveying the warmth and happiness their customers crave through social platforms.
How inbound marketing makes a difference
Inbound marketing has quickly become one of the essential components of marketing strategies. It is a highly effective and unique marketing method that leverages personalized content to attract visitors to your business and ultimately convert those into loyal customers.
The creative nature of inbound marketing aligns the content that your company produces with your targeted audiences’ goals and interests, enabling them to be more empowered during the buying process. This blog will walk you through the key elements and strategies of inbound marketing as such:
Before you step into generating leads, you must first put some thought into how you will bring visitors to your website. The tactics that fall into the attract stage of the inbound marketing strategy aim to draw customers to your website initially and keep them coming back. Here are few examples of how you can attract customers:
- Social media
- Premium content offers
- Call to action
- Landing pages
- Website optimization
After converting visitors into leads, now it’s time to nurture those leads through the buyers’ journey to pass them off to sales that will nurture them towards becoming customers. There are different sales enabling tactics you can use to help prepare leads for their conversation with sales such as:
- Email marketing
- Lead nurturing
Sometimes converting a visitor isn’t as easy as signing a form and hoping they will be an important asset to your business. You can enter the closing stage in many ways such as automation and email marketing. Automated emails help remind users of their forsaken carts and lead them to return to your platform and complete their purchases. This can be done through the following implementations:
- CRM integration
- Drip marketing
- Lead scoring
- Lead sourcing
Even satisfied customers need to be cultivated and nurtured, so they continue to feel valued by your business or brand. It is essential to keep your customers engaged with your business. You can engage in specific specialized client offerings to keep them highly satisfied such as:
- Customer engagements
- Knowledge base
- Customer support
Creating content through an inbound marketing strategy
Businesses are building their brand in innovative and fresh ways that allow them to carry on a two-way discussion with customers and prospects. Now that you know inbound marketing and its strategies, let’s dive into creating content through inbound marketing strategy.
Create detailed buyer personas
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. Defined buyer personas are created through a combination of market research, customer interviews and feedback. It helps you refine your marketing strategy and align your marketing efforts with your targeted customers.
Specifically, the process of creating your buyer personas helps you uncover their pain points and challenges. It will draw in prospects who won’t just buy your product but will also benefit from it in the long term. Your marketing activities should be created keeping in mind your buyer personas and addressing how your company aims to solve their challenges. Here are a few things you will need to acknowledge to your ideal customer:
- Their purpose so that you can help them achieve it
- Their problems so that you can solve them
- Their choice of social platforms so that you can talk to them in their language
Ultimately, your brand is what sets you apart from your competitors. Your competitors can replace your services and products but no one can duplicate your objectives. A brand is more than just a set of colors or a logo, its how people experience your organization and how they feel when they interact with you and your content.
Your business and its objectives go hand in hand, with one reflecting the other. To set those objectives, you can start by assessing your website’s current ability to convert leads and attract traffic. Here are a few key performance indicators for your web platform:
- Unique website visitors
- CTA clicks
- Form fulfillments
- Inbound leads
- Source of web traffic
Targeting a set audience may seem counterproductive but creating content for each and every one limits your chances of being recognized as the competition net is too wide especially in the tech sector. You can target a segment of the audience away from the masses and focus on niche content. In this way, you’ll create content for high-quality lead with more chances of audience converting into customers on your blog. This will prove a more productive use of your marketing budget than an untargeted, blanket approach to generating leads and converting them into clients.
After identifying your ideal audience, you now need to be clear about what they need and precisely what you will offer them. This understanding will enable you to prepare an appropriate marketing message that will best communicate the benefits of your business.
Create a list of keywords
Keywords are much more than just a randomly selected list of words. They are actually very strategic in nature and form the foundation of all inbound marketing efforts. Research about five to six groups of keywords your prospects search for or find of particular interest in your industry. These keywords form a framework for all ongoing content creation whether they are used on web pages, blogs, social media, etc.
This will increase the chances of being ranked by Google and other search engines. You can also use tools such as Google planner and Hub Spot to help you better understand the right keywords for your strategy. Keywords are generally defined in three ways as follows:
- Words that identify the content of your website
- Search terms for search engines
- Focused concepts for marketing
In today’s increasingly competitive market, it is no longer enough to understand clients for a business to succeed. Businesses must also pay close attention to their competition or other best digital marketing agencies and constantly analyze them. Although competition analysis may seem like an endless task to marketers, it is important to understand its significance. It is carried out to identify the strengths and weaknesses of other market players, define your company’s standing in the market, highlight the gaps, and estimate your potential to fill them. Here are the key aspects:
- Stay updated on competitors’ market
- Map out the competitive landscape
- Check competitors’ choice of platforms
- Reconsider your marketing mix
- Collect insights on competitors’ top marketing campaigns
- Analyze competitors’ SEO efforts
- Initiate changes in your marketing strategy
The client journey is classified as a marketing funnel wherein a series of stages are established to guide clients through their client journey. This helps marketing teams to plan and measure efforts to attract the clientele. The client journey falls into three categories as such:
Top of the funnel: awareness
The top of the funnel is where clients become aware of your brand and engage with it for the first time. This is the stage where they might not know a lot about you or your service yet, so the Top of the Funnel(TOFU) focuses on content marketing material that promotes brand awareness. This stage can be used to attract clients and introduce your business to them in the following ways:
- Creating a landing page or infographic
- Sharing posts on social media
- Sharing relevant podcasts
- Highlighting your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
- Using paid ads on social media
Middle of the funnel: evaluation
The potential clients enter this stage of the funnel once they have engaged with your business in a meaningful way. This includes them having subscribed to your email list, signing up for a webinar or starting to follow your business on social media platforms. You can strategically use the Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) to engage with your clients in a meaningful way and earning their trust in the following ways:
- Write articles or whitepapers
- Conducting visitor surveys
- Sharing case studies
- Asking open-ended questions
- Creating landing pages specific to particular client segments
Bottom of the funnel: conversation
The Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) is the stage where you have got the attention of your clients. Now it’s time to build trust and foster a relationship with them. You can use this stage to give them specific reasons to choose your business over others. Here are a few things you can do to convert prospects:
- Offer a trial or demo
- Creating How-to guides and articles
- Highlighting customer reviews and testimonials
- Send segmented email marketing campaigns
- Use on-site surveys
- Send emails regarding abandoned carts
- Put an exit survey
In order to avoid losing valuable leads during the buyers as mentioned earlier’ journey, it is vital to provide your clientele with all valuable content. It should include all the information your potential customers might need at each stage to move further down the funnel and stay with the right marketing channels.
Valuable content includes understanding the concerns and objections of your customers and providing them with all the correct answers to all their questions. Mostly, leads are lost because they are not given enough information especially when they need it. Here, creating a lead nurturing process and sales automation can help so that your clients don’t go dull and seek content elsewhere.
Create a conversion-focused blogging strategy
The only difference between a blog that drives sales and a blog that produces vanity traffic, calculating clicks and views, is a solid blog conversion strategy. Here are a few tips for creating a conversion-focused blogging strategy:
- Optimize your headline
- Optimize your images
- Power up your content with action words
- Content upgrades to add to your blog post
Track and test
Last but not least step is to manage your content assets effectively. That includes its cadence, responsible teams, scheduling, publishing and promoting content to reach the targeted audience. None of what you do in the above-mentioned steps will be effective if you do not track and review your content and its marketing efforts. This step helps set up a measurement framework based on the KPIs and come up with the metrics you will need to keep track of at regular intervals.
Marketing is not about buying, begging or bugging your audience for attention. Instead, you are taking the time to provide something of value so that you can earn their attention and more importantly, keep it.
The idea that people would embrace marketing messages is largely foreign to most people. But the idea that they would willingly engage or even seek out a business or brand that solves their problems and creates a narrative they want to be a part of is not just natural, it’s part of our daily lives. Inbound marketing is the new era of marketing, one where customers have their needs meet and questions answered.