About 10 years ago, a new kind of marketing was slowly gaining traction. They were calling it “inbound marketing” and it was the practice of building and managing a website to attract visitors to it. It differed widely from the kind of marketing most people were familiar with. But now, most of us just call it “marketing” because it’s just the way of things when marketing online.
Some businesses still market using an old-school playbook, though. And, while that may be ok for some businesses, we believe that most businesses benefit from strategic digital and website marketing programs. For those companies still using old tools to solve modern problems, we educate them on the elements of inbound marketing and how this method can help them grow a dedicated customer base.
HubSpot was the company that coined the term, so they’ve got a great definition of inbound marketing: “Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have.”
Evolution of marketing
Online channels altered the (formerly) traditional campaign, letting marketers create marketing inbound campaigns focused on earning the attention of customers and engaging with them online. One of the great ways of thinking of it is: building a relationship with someone while you’re not in front of them. Your website and digital channels help you answer questions and engage with potential customers.
For an inbound campaign to be successful, a number of elements should be implemented and designed to work in concert.
Determine your specific audience
Before launching a campaign, you must identify and understand who you are talking to. Where traditional marketing messages were developed for the masses, an inbound campaign should focus on a particular audience segment that’s likely to be interested in what you have to offer. Building a buyer persona empowers you to “talk” to your audience where they are and on their terms, providing them with information that’s relevant to them, as well as answers to problems or challenges they wish to solve.
Goals ensure you measure the success (or failure) of your campaign and use the results for improving future campaigns. Digital marketing is the most measurable thing you can do. If you have a marketing automation system in place, you can measure the awareness, engagement and acquisition success of your campaign. Google Analytics also provides its own campaign and event tracking codes.
Content offers and landing pages
Once you have completed your initial planning, you can start developing content and offers for your campaign. Offers are the currency of your campaign. They must be valuable to your potential customer and convince them to exchange some of their contact information for the offer. The more valuable the content, the more information you can request from your lead or prospect. And, the more times a potential customer engages with your content, the more information you can request from them. Continued engagement is a sign of increasing investment in your company as the solution to their problem.
Typically, offers are targeted to various stages of the purchasing funnel – top, middle and bottom—and are suited to the needs of buyers at these stages. For example, top of the funnel offers are low-commitments such as downloadable e-books or educational content targeted to buyers in the awareness stage. These items may only request a name and email to access. More in-depth pieces may require additional pieces of information, like a job title, company and other demographics that help you qualify the lead.
After creating your content, put it on a landing page where visitors can find and download it. Optimizing landing pages will help your page show up in search engine results. A landing page should include a headline, outline the benefits of your offer, and a form to collect information from your prospect. Once that person has submitted the form, they should be directed to a thank you page with the content they requested.
- What information do you need to collect?
- What text should be on the submit button?
Try to keep your form as short as possible, keeping in mind that the number of fields you require should reflect the value of the content. Need is the operative word here. Only collect the needed information, as each additional form field could result in more drop-off from your prospects. For bottom of the funnel offers, forms can be longer. But for top of the funnel offers, limiting your form to name, company name and email might be sufficient.
If you use a tool like HubSpot, you can use smart fields to adjust fields based on whether a visitor has already completed a form in the past. Or you can use progressive profiling which builds on smart fields and uses a queue of questions to better qualify leads. Each time the visitor submits a form, they are presented with different fields of information, building on what they’ve submitted in the past.
The text on the actual submission button should be active and should be related to what the offer is. According to Dan Zarella of HubSpot, in a comparison of 40,000 landing pages, those with “Submit” text for buttons had significantly lower conversion rates than pages that used more directive text such as “Download Now.” Here’s an example of one of our offer pages. (Note the button text!)
Upon form submission, direct the user to a thank you page including a thank you message – and make good on the promise (a link to download the requested offer). You can also include a related or follow-up offer to attempt to reconvert the visitor and deepen your engagement with them. You can also send a follow up email with similar messaging as the thank you page that can include a link to the asset, should they want to return to the page later.
Once you have their contact information, you could add them to an automatic nurturing workflow, which uses follow-up emails and related offers to try to draw the person through the funnel and promote further engagement via conversations and interactions. The key point, though, is that any additional information shared with the person should be relevant and interesting to them. Otherwise, you’re just junk in their mailbox. But if you can provide value, that’s where the magic happens.
Get the word out
After you create a fabulous offer for your buyer persona, build a landing page and develop your lead nurturing workflow, you still need to get the word out about the offer.
If you’ve got an email list, you can send an email to a segment of your database who fits the persona, might be interested in your offer, and who you want to engage.
Write a blog post. SEO-optimized blog posts for content offers introduce the offer to readers and allow you to leave them wanting more. Include a call to action pointing readers to the landing page.
Calls to action (CTAs) are like ads you create and place within your website or blog to encourage or entice visitors to take an action. Your CTAs should be engaging and should echo the messaging, look and language of your landing page. Place them in your blog post or other locations on your site that have high traffic.
Distribute on social media
Present your offer on your social media channels and direct users to the landing page. Additionally, make it easy for others to share your offer. Make sure your landing page and blog post include some sort of sharing feature to allow others to promote your content for you.
Paid media campaigns
One of the quickest and most effective ways to get qualified traffic to your offer is via paid media. Although it is not a traditional inbound technique, it has value in two ways. One, it provides immediate reach to users who are searching on questions that your offer solves. Second, you learn what keywords and questions people are searching on so you can optimize your content and offer, improving its performance long-term.
Measure for success
At the end of your campaign or at defined milestones, analyze your results against the goals you set at the beginning. Measuring progress allows you to adapt and improve along the way. It also lets you identify successful campaigns that you can use as the template for additional/new campaigns.
Inbound marketing, which again we just call marketing, is a big part of our approach for clients. Some small- and medium-sized businesses don’t have the in-house team to perform the varied elements of inbound marketing, which is where third-party experts such as Team Savoir Faire come in. If you’re not sure if your marketing is “traditional” or “inbound,” reach out and we’ll let you know and help you advance to the latter.