Marketing strategies are only effective when they reflect current consumer behavior. This means that whatever approach worked best 20 years ago is unlikely to be the best approach today. In the past, marketing was focused on using print ads, commercials, cold-calls, email blasts, billboards, and web ads to push ads and messages out to the public. We call this “outbound marketing” because it relies on catching people’s attention by getting your product or service out in front of them. But what happens when the way we consume content changes like it has in recent years?
How We Consume Media in the 21st Century
Consider how we consume media today. Those of us who still watch our favorite tv shows on cable have the option to record shows and skip through commercials. Most of us get our news from the internet, so we don’t see printed ads in newspapers. We use ad blockers to block online banner ads (or just ignore them when we’re scrolling) and send email newsletters straight to the spam folder (or trash). Telemarketing irritates us, we throw away catalogues and coupons after barely looking at them, and who even gets the yellow pages anymore?
Today the focus needs to be on reaching your ideal customers with content just for them, offering it where they are most likely to see it, and providing them with something of value that draws them in (get it? Inbound marketing). When your content is helpful and relevant, you don’t need to push it in front of as many people as possible, hoping to reach a few interested prospects. It will naturally make its way out via social media shares and appearance in search results.
Today we have more insight into customer behavior and how to interact meaningfully than we ever have. This helps create a smarter, more cost-effective marketing strategy, and inbound is the way to go about it.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing focuses on creating valuable content and experiences with a clear understanding of your intended audience. To predict what your ideal customers need, you need to be familiar with their motivators. You need to think like your client so you can offer solutions and products that will benefit them. To run a successful inbound marketing campaign, you need to have empathy with the people you hope to reach and understand what content they would appreciate most. This is how you gain new clients and keep them coming back.
How Do You “Do” Inbound Marketing?
1. Content is King
Blogs, whitepapers, infographics, podcasts, ebooks, and video series are great examples of content you can create to make potential customers aware of your service or product.
Popular Types of Content
A blog with regular and helpful posts is an effective way to market your business. Blogging helps attract new visitors, encourages them to become repeat visitors, and earns their trust and loyalty. With free, interesting content, you’ll be able to establish your business as an industry thought-leader.
Whitepapers answer searchable questions by potential clients and establish your expertise in a subject. The purpose is to educate your audience about something specific and provide the information needed to solve a problem or explain a particular method. Whitepapers are not meant to directly sell a product or service. Whitepapers usually require an email address for download, so they’re a good way to capture leads.
An infographic is a visual representation of information or data used to simplify a subject or make it more interesting. On social media, infographics are shared 3 times more than any other content type. In addition to being shareable, they drive traffic and break up text to make your content more interesting.
Like a blog, a podcast is an opportunity to connect with your potential customers by covering interesting, relevant topics on a regular basis. Sharing interviews or conversations in an informal setting on topics chosen with your customers in mind is a good way to provide value and position yourself as an expert.
Ebooks are usually shorter and more interactive than whitepapers, often including links to additional information. They show your readers that you’re eager to provide them with valuable, helpful content. Also, like whitepages, ebooks are usually emailed to people who sign up for them, which helps identify leads and populate your contact list. You can also put them in the Kindle store for more exposure.
Video series — More than 50% of consumers want to see videos from brands (more than any other content type). Emails with “video” in the subject line see significant increases in open and conversion rates. Try knowledge-based, customer stories, on-boarding tips, meet the team, or support videos.
2. Guest Blogs
Guest posting, writing blog posts for other blogs, is effective because they allow you to reach an audience that might not have found you otherwise. They increase your reach and can help generate HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing software that can help you:
- Manage and update website content (CMS)
- Create landing pages tailored to specific buyer personas
- Schedule Social Media Posts
- Run automatic marketing workflows
- Log sales activity & store contact data (CRM)
Executing an inbound marketing strategy takes work. You have to create interesting and relevant content with your targeted audience in mind, convince them that you offer what they need, and continue to provide services and products that people will return for. HubSpot can help you implement and manage an effective inbound marketing strategy so that you can best reach and serve your clients.