Normally, when we think of marketing, we tend to think of shouting news from the rooftops. You have a product or a service and you want people to know about it, so you get out there and you let the world know. With inbound marketing, this idea is entirely flipped on its head. Read on to learn more.
Inbound marketing is an approach to marketing that asks the customer to come to the brand, rather than the other way around.
With conventional marketing, which we might call outbound marketing, the seller will try to identify the audience and then go to them. This can even be called a go-to-market strategy, or GTM. This might often include a route-to-market meanwhile, which in turn means that you are finding where the market/your audience will be likely to congregate and then you are going there.
So for instance, if you sell garden products, then you might consider approaching a magazine called ‘gardening world’ and asking them to cover your product via a press release. This would be an example of a go-to market strategy, where the route-to-market would be the magazine itself. Otherwise, you might advertise in that magazine etc.
All these examples involve finding your audience where they are and then showing them your product. However, in an inbound marketing strategy, you instead wait for the audience to come to you.
The most common way to do this? With a business blog and with content marketing. That means that you’re going to set up a blog for your company and you’re going to provide free value that way. Your blog posts and articles may be entertaining, they may be interesting or they may be useful. Whatever the case, the audience will now visit there regularly because they want to know what you have to offer and what content you’re going to post next.
This is all about creating a loyal readership then, and that readership will likely be made up of people who have become fans of your blog. Think about the blogs that you read on a regular basis. You likely have them bookmarked in your browser and maybe you check them once a week or even every day. You are now a captive audience, the company now owns its very own ‘route to market’ and thus they can now market to you at will.
And that is inbound marketing, because now the customers are coming to the brand!
A word that big companies often talk about is 'loyalty'. This can apply to staff of course, but often it also applies to their customers. Businesses want to build 'brand loyalty' so that their customers will choose to use their services over those of another unknown 'quantity' because it's familiar and because they've had a good experience in the past. With brand loyalty you can greatly increase your turnover but there are other benefits too: someone loyal is more likely to promote your business for you to others for instance, and is more likely to respond to marketing questions, to invest and generally to get behind you and help you complete your vision.
Loyalty doesn't just apply to big business though – it also applies to a very large extent to websites. If you can build loyalty among your visitors, then you will ensure that they keep coming back, that they talk about your site on other social networks and forums, and that they are supportive when you go through bad times. Building loyalty means getting people to love your site and your brand and to want to see you succeed, and that's a highly valuable quantity. And it’s completely essential if your inbound marketing strategy is to have any hope of working.
Loyalty is priceless in fact, which is why it makes such a good investment. So how do you build that loyalty?
The single most important way to build that loyalty and to keep your visitors coming back, is to make sure you are offering value. In other words, they need a reason to keep coming back and an incentive. This requires consistency, which in turn means that you should post to a content schedule. Whether that is every day, every week or every month will depend on your budget and your workforce. But the more you can post, the more often people will come and check your blog for new articles.
So, aim to go big!
Another thing to do is to try and make yourself and your site as approachable as possible. This means writing about your various trials, and it means showing the face or faces behind the site. People are much more likely to route for people than for faceless brands so if they see that you're working hard behind the scenes, then they'll be much more likely to try and help out.
The great thing about inbound marketing is that it also builds trust and familiarity – which are similarly valuable assets.
Another way to get your visitors to support your site more is to involve them more. Psychological studies have shown that we actually like people more if we have done them a favour - moreso in fact that if they do us a favor. If you need a new website name then, or a new logo designing, try putting it to your visitors and asking them to help out. Once they do, they will be invested in the success of your site that much more: because your success will become their success.
Another way to get people to like your website is to give away free gifts – even if those are just downloads. When you do this you demonstrate your site's value to them which will make them more likely to help in a very conscious way. At the same time though, giving things away for free will make them feel somewhat indebted and this will create an obligation to help you out in return.
You can also give away apps, downloads, ebooks or more. All these things will give your audience more reason to keep coming back and it will help to make them more engaged with your brand. This is the start of a sales funnel!
While inbound marketing is often associated with content marketing, it can actually mean a great many different things. Essentially, inbound marketing simply means bringing an audience to your brand, rather than posting your messages elsewhere.
This can also be achieved by building any kind of platform. If you have an app for instance, then you will be able to use this as a platform to market to people on and the audience will keep coming back as long as the app is useful.
Likewise, if you have an online ‘store’ of some sort – like the Apple iTunes store – then you have an ecosystem that you can use to market and sell through. Even a physical highstreet store can be used in this way – if people are coming in, then you can market to them!
Think about your existing assets. It might just be that you already have the ability to start inbound marketing!