An introduction to inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a term that is thrown around a lot these days but what does it actually mean? What can it do for you and your business? We’re here to walk you through it.

The basic principle behind inbound marketing is simple. Entice your customers to come to you willingly rather than dragging them along. Make yourself useful rather than annoying. Intrusive marketing techniques such as banner ads and cold-calling are becoming less and less effective. Given the rise of ad blockers, the former are now often being completely bypassed. An inbound marketing approach has you helping customers before they even buy from you, introducing a degree of goodwill feeling. 

You can make yourself relevant to potential customers by providing them with pertinent, targeted content. This content should be designed to help the customer, not sell your product or service. You are aiming to address their basic questions regarding your areas of expertise.

For example, you are a property finder company (think Kirsty and Phil!), and your expertise is in helping people to find and then buy or rent properties in different locations around the country. You offer real expertise in what you do and know that your service is second to none.Your target audience are therefore people who are looking for a home in a different part of the country.
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They might have visited the area once or twice, but don’t have the time to make appointments nor visit different houses on different days. They may not know anyone with local knowledge of the area, and need someone that can help them. This is the perfect client for you.

So how do we make sure that we are seen by them, when they may not know that your service exists:

By creating good quality, relevant content on your website that asks these specific questions, and then provides clear, knowledgeable answers. Make your audience see and believe that you are an authority in your industry.

If you provide high quality content, users are increasingly willing to part with some information in order to access it. By getting them to hand over their email and other personal details, you can send them more targeted content in the future, nurturing their interest over a period of time. The longer you nurture them, the more information you can collect and the more targeted you can make your content. You’re building a long-term relationship.

The inbound marketing strategy can utilise numerous channels of communication. Remember, it’s all about helping the customer. Distribute your content where your customer base is most likely to see it. For example, if your potential customers aren’t avid LinkedIn users, don’t invest a lot of energy in creating content for that platform.

How do I get an inbound marketing campaign going?

As with every business decision, the first step of inbound marketing is to define your business goals. These goals should be SMART- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timed.inbound marketing smart-goals.jpg

  • Specific- The goal is well defined and clear to all those involved. The goal needs to answer the five Ws. What do I want to achieve? Who is involved? When do I want to achieve it by? Why do I want to achieve this goal? Which resources do I need?
  • Measurable- The set of circumstances by which the goal’s end point are defined. What do you expect to see when the goal is complete? You will need evidence to demonstrate that the circumstances have been fulfilled.
  • Attainable- The goal should be possible to achieve. You need to consider the amount of labour you can devote to it, the amount of money and the amount of time. Is it realistic based on your current situation?
  • Relevant- How does this goal relate to any other goals you might have? Your goals all need to work together to move in one direction. You don’t want resources split inefficiently.
  • Timed- Your goal needs to have a stated end date. Having a deadline will help keep the goal at the forefront of your mind, rather than getting lost in everyday operations. Deadlines are highly motivating but allow for some flexibility. Goals shouldn’t be a race against time as morale will fall.

You want goals that you can easily assess in order to demonstrate your progress. You’ll want to see the tangible difference an inbound marketing campaign makes to your business, and how a specialist inbound marketing agency can make a huge difference. 

Don’t forget that an inbound marketing campaign does take time. You won’t be top of the Google rankings overnight- be realistic about your time frame and current position within your industry.

The next step in this early period is to develop your buyer personas. These are simply representations of your customers, built upon any data you already possess and market research. Each persona represents a different ‘type’ of customer- it is highly unlikely that all your customers have the same aims and challenges, so you’ll have a few buyer personas. 

The purpose of having personas is so that you can identify their pain points. What are they struggling with? And how can we make sure that our content appeases the challenges that they face. With an inbound marketing campaign, you provide them with advice through your content, increasing the chance that they go on to use your product/service as the solution.

You’re now ready to start looking at the ‘Buyer’s Journey!’

 Now you are fully clued up on exactly how an inbound campaign can impact the performance of your business, read our latest blog on how Ultimate can help you with your next inbound campaign!

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Written by Emma Puzylo December of 2016