Small businesses can implement inbound marketing into their marketing strategy today – it’s imperative. Traditional outbound marketing avenues are being abandoned by small businesses. The problem is that either the old tactics no longer work, some 90% of executives won’t answer cold calls anymore, or they’re too expensive.
Small businesses often can’t afford a TV ad.
And consumers are becoming more demanding. A lot of consumers don’t want to be “disturbed.” So, a business must work on their inbound marketing efforts to overcome this trend. You need to have permission, attract, engage and covert customers.
It’s not harder, but it’s a different form of marketing that works for today’s audience.
Outbound vs Inbound Marketing
A very short comparison of outbound and inbound marketing is as follows:
Outbound marketing includes:
- One-way communication
- Calls, TV and radio ads, among others, are used
- Little-to-no value is provided
- Education and engagement aren’t top priorities
Inbound marketing includes:
- Two-way communication
- Customers come to you organically (i.e. social media or search engines)
- Marketers provide value
- Education and entertainment are promoted
Inbound marketing works in today’s digital world, where consumers are willing to search for a business rather than be promoted to directly. Ads still work, but inbound marketing has proven to be equally as beneficial for many companies.
“Inbound marketing cuts through all of the noise by providing your prospects and customers with the content that’s valuable and relevant to their needs, growing your digital presence organically,” explains AdInfusion.
1. Start with a Content Strategy
The first thing you need to understand is that a content strategy is a must-have. When you engage in inbound marketing, a lot of what you do will revolve around content. And content can be a lot of different things:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
This is just a short list of items that may be in your content strategy. You need to figure out who your ideal customer is, using personas, and then create a content strategy that meets their needs. Entire books can be written on this process, but a short example will suffice:
- Ed is a 30-year-old husband, father of two and works in accounting. He deals with new clients daily and is looking for new ways to manage his customers.
If you’re a CRM company, you may tailor your content to meet Ed’s pain points. In this case, Ed may want to spend more time with his kids, and managing customers to save time may be a pain point your CRM can meet.
So, you may create blog posts on saving time, managing new customers and so on.
2. Social Media Comes Next
Your content strategy should include a slew of different content “assets,” and then it’s time to dive into another beast: social media. Billions, yes billions, of people are on social media. Facebook has something like 1.71 billion monthly users.
You can’t pass up an audience of this size.
Spreading your content through social media, increasing brand awareness and becoming a thought leader are all possible. But it requires you to create a quality social media following. The key word here is quality.
Every audience tends to gravitate to different social media platforms.
Find the platform that your demographic is on and target that platform first. I suggest choosing 2 – 3 platforms and focusing on them. There is a learning curve to find out what works on every platform, so choose your platform wisely and test, test, test.
Visual content gets 94% more views on social media, so focus on:
Build your social media presence systematically through engagement and posts.
3. Capture E-mail Addresses and Information Through Forms
You’ve done a great job so far, and now it’s time to collect some information from your audience. Remember how we mentioned permission marketing earlier? This is a form of marketing where your potential client or customer has given you permission to market to them.
This doesn’t mean spam your audience.
Instead, you want to use this permission to educate and nurture your audience. You can capture leads in a variety of ways, including:
- Offering a free sample
- Offering a free eBook
- Offering additional information
You need to encourage the people you lure in through inbound marketing to give up their personal information. Try to keep it short with just the person’s name and e-mail address – it’s more effective.
Once you have their email, it’s time to nurture these prospects and turn them into customers.
You’ll want to create an email sequence that sends out emails automatically and nurtures your potential customer in some form. A health coach may offer help on losing belly fat through a free eBook.
The people who sign up under this form may receive content directed towards losing extra pounds and getting abs. Through the use of education, the prospect may turn into a lead once you’ve gained their trust and now recommend a new supplement that’s proven to burn belly fat.
Of course, this needs to be geared towards your own niche.