Whereas outbound marketing focuses on cold calling and making outbound interactions to bring in potential customers, inbound marketing is quite the opposite. Instead of outreach to actively generate awareness of your business, you go about it more passively.
You put content out into the world via your blog, social media, website, email newsletter, etc., in order to passively generate awareness of your business. Instead of calling someone, they see a Facebook ad promoting your product or service and click over to your website. It's a much less intrusive form of marketing and is increasingly popular and successful.
If you're working to ensure your business's inbound marketing strategy is as successful as possible, there are a few tactics you won't want to forget about. Check out our tips for marketing effectiveness so your inbound marketing team gets more bang for your buck.
1. Create SMART inbound marketing goals.
You don't want to create abstract goals like "Make more money this year" or "Sell more products." Instead, you need to create SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Let's dive into what each one of these means, because it's important when setting your goals to know exactly how you can achieve them.
You want to get into the who, what, when, where, and how in this. Who in the company will be responsible for this? A particular person or a team or department? What, specifically, is the goal? The more detailed, the better. When would you like to have this accomplished by? Where, if anywhere, do you need to go to accomplish this? How do you plan on achieving it?
What exactly do you accomplish by setting a goal like "sell more products?" How many more products do you have to sell to feel like you've reached your goal? One more product? That technically accomplishes your goal, but would you actually feel accomplished in your business if you sold just one more product than before?
This is why you want to create measurable goals. Put some numbers in there. Sell X more products. Generate $X in revenue. Grow your customer base by X%.
These are tangible goals that actually have a specific end in sight. So you're not just aimlessly trying to "sell more." Instead, you know exactly how much more you're trying to sell.
If you made $100,000 in revenue last year, you can't reasonably say you want a million dollar year in your business the next. It's simply not realistic or attainable. Sure, if you went on Shark Tank or your product went viral on social media, it's totally possible that you could skyrocket to a million dollar year.
But that's not realistic or attainable for the average person. Instead, think about what you've achieved in the past, think about what you would specifically need to do to achieve more, and set an attainable goal. You can still reach for the heavens by trying to double your revenue if you know that you have some new products or services coming down the pipeline or you've got some exciting new marketing strategies or campaigns coming up, but don't overshoot.
Make sure your goal is relevant to your overall business goals and objectives. If your business is B2B, but you're creating goals for marketing products to consumers, the goals might not be completely relevant or sensible to your business. Additionally, if your goal is to double revenue, but you have no plans or ability to double your team to make up for the extra bandwidth, the goal isn't really relevant to your current business status or objectives.
Give yourself a deadline. When is this goal due? How long will it take to accomplish? What is a reasonable timeframe to expect to accomplish it?
In the end, you'll have goals that make sense for your business and have specifics for completion as well as measurable success and a deadline.
a. My inbound marketing team is going to increase website traffic by 10% through search engine optimization, social media advertising, and content marketing efforts by the end of Q2.
b. My sales team will increase appointments made by 5% by sending 10 more emails and making 5 more calls each day within the next two months.
c. My business will generate 25% more in revenue this year due to overall efforts of the inbound marketing and sales teams to increase inbound and outbound leads by the end of the year.
2. Creating a buyer persona.
As a business owner, you might have an idea of who your audience is. But if you don't have a fully-fleshed out buyer persona that lets you know their exact demographics, pain points, and reasons for buying, you're selling yourself short.
A buyer persona is a fictional person representing your target audience. You might even have more than one buyer persona if you have different facets of your business, like a B2B side and a B2C side, or a small business platform and an enterprise platform.
Getting started on your buyer persona is a great way to know who exactly you need to be targeting in your digital marketing campaigns and advertisements. Present these to your marketing and sales teams so that both your inbound and outbound marketing is on the same page.
3. Choose your inbound marketing strategies.
There are several key elements to an inbound marketing strategy, and you can focus on each one, or you can choose two or three to really invest in.
- Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing means creating a presence on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc., and creating content to appeal to your target audience on these platforms. So you'll create a Facebook business page, brand it with your logo and a visually appealing cover photo, then share company information, links to sales pages, humorous and relatable content, and more.
There's a lot more to it than that, obviously, as there are whole social media agencies out there dedicated to managing this for you, but we're staying top level while you choose which platforms and inbound marketing strategies to work with.
This avenue gives your business a one-on-one connection with your audience, something that's never been available before in marketing. You're able to speak directly to your customers, offer customer service, and create genuine sales and connections this way.
- Content Marketing
Content marketing is one of the top inbound marketing strategies because of the power it has in education and informing customers and creating valuable connections. With content marketing, you're adding a blog to your website and sharing written content about your industry, business, and products/services to let your customers know a little more about what you do and why/how you do it.
This is powerful because it positions your business as a thought leader in your industry. People start to visit your website and view it as a trusted resource. Your audience reads your content and shares it with others who may have the same questions. Your business is now top of mind when people start to think of your industry.
And it's just because you've regularly updated your business blog with valuable and educational content. It now provides a way for people to send links to your website to others, creating earned traffic and increasing your overall web traffic. It decreases your bounce rate and makes people want to buy from you because they trust what you have to say about your product or service.
- Email Marketing
This is a tactic that's been around for a while, and if you've ever done any kind of online shopping, you've probably been added to an email list. Email marketing is a great lead nurturing tactic, especially once you've generated an initial lead from your social media or content marketing.
Placing opt-ins on your website and social media profiles is a great way to generate leads and add new subscribers to your email list. Then you're able to send email newsletters promoting various products and services, create email automations based on how a user subscribed, and lead prospects further down the sales funnel.
Email marketing is an extremely powerful tool, and if you're going to only choose one inbound marketing strategy, email marketing can be a great choice. Owning your email list and CRM data of customers is invaluable to your business.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
This goes hand in hand with content marketing, as it focuses on utilizing keywords and building webpages with information that your target audience is searching for on Google and other search engines. In order to increase your overall SEO on your website, you want to focus on the copywriting throughout your Home page and Service pages, as well as the keywords used in the blogs published.
Having good SEO increases the rank of your website and web pages in search engine results, leading to more people landing on your website for less money.
- Pay-Per-Click Advertising
SEO is free; PPC is not. PPC is the search engine advertising that you see at the top and bottom of your search results and is a great way to get to the first page of search results on short-tail keywords that are next to impossible to rank for.
This is an extremely valuable form of inbound marketing, but it can be costly, so it's important to budget for it correctly. When determining your PPC ads budget, think about how much each customer is worth to you. Although we all love the idea of spending pennies and dollars per click and conversion, if a new customer is worth a few thousand to your business, you're going to be spending a few hundred to convert them.
4. Measure your inbound marketing results.
Let's face it: not every single new strategy works well the first time around. Everything requires A/B testing, tweaking, measuring, and adapting to really see tangible results and an uptick in business. After all, your inbound marketing strategy is not a set it and forget it type of deal.
So how do you measure your marketing ROI?
Each month take a look at your analytics: social media insights, website analytics, and overall business growth, sales, and revenue. What is your month-over-month growth in each one? If there hasn't been any growth, it may be a sign of something not working.
(However, it's important to note that any real inbound marketing strategy change takes around 3 months to actually see results. Don't sweat it if you're not noticing any big changes within a few weeks. It's a lengthy process.)
Check out social media engagement. Your likes and your reach don't mean anything -- they're just vanity metrics that make you feel good about yourself. Instead, pay attention to how many people are actually engaging with your content, because that means it resonated with them enough to incite action, and those are the people who will potentially become customers.
Pay attention to the percentage of leads that are coming in from each avenue: social media marketing, content marketing, pay-per-click, etc. This helps you determine which are getting you the most bang for your buck and which you may need to adjust.
And finally, take a look at your conversion rates. Out of the traffic and leads that Facebook sent to your website and business how many became customers? Same for your blog, and for your digital advertising. At the end of the day, the conversions are what really matter so it's important to keep that as a part of your marketing ROI calculator.
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