While outbound marketing still matters, inbound marketing has been the more significant revenue driver for most companies for years – and that trend’s only going to strengthen. Trust in advertising is being replaced by independent research and careful consideration. That’s great news for companies that invest in content marketing, SEO, social media, and other inbound marketing channels.
If your current inbound marketing strategy is keeping you afloat but not moving you forward, use these tips to master this critically important skill set.
Develop a Cogent Strategy
What are your inbound marketing goals? If you don’t yet have a succinct answer arrived at by significant research, it’s high time to get started on it. You may have an idea of your ultimate goals, but without a strategic plan to get from here to there, you can’t make the journey. Identify your goals clearly, know which resources you’ll allocate to meet them, and select the people responsible for their leg of the relay race, and you stand a vastly greater chance of reaching your goals. Research is key to so much of marketing, and that’s equally true of defining your inbound marketing strategy; root your strategy firmly in demographic and competitive research.
Know Your Market
To build a successful inbound marketing campaign, you need to know what your leads are looking for. It does no good to put out volumes of content no one needs, so before you implement any inbound marketing activities, learn everything you can about what they want before you devote time and effort building a campaign. You don’t have to search hard to find social media campaigns that have flopped or SEO content that missed its mark; in most cases, these well-intentioned outbound marketing efforts failed because they addressed the audience marketers thought they had instead of connecting with what leads actually needed.
Treat Inbound Marketing as an Investment
Outbound marketing is an expense, albeit a worthwhile one; you buy a given service or ad space for a fixed price and get an established value in return. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is an investment that can continue to pay dividends well into the future. The energy you devote to content creation and distribution, social media activity, and SEO pays off in direct proportion to your investment in them. Like other investments, inbound marketing may take time to evolve into a revenue generator. Brand-building and establishing authority through content marketing isn’t quick, but it is an essential investment.
Use Force Multipliers
Some inbound marketing activities have a synergistic effect, and strengthening one area could act as a force multiplier for other facets of your overall marketing strategy. For example, going from monthly blog posting to weekly posts will give you more content that could then become the foundation for a series of white papers, which in turn becomes an e-book. All of these then feed into your social media strategy and email marketing by giving you more to say to your leads. The single act of stepping up your blog activity cascades throughout all other aspects of your inbound marketing strategy, maximizing the value of your initial action.
Take Accurate Measurements
One of the great challenges with inbound marketing is quantifying its effectiveness. As inbound marketing has grown in importance, so has the accuracy of the tools used to measure its impact. Monitoring traffic volume, lead engagement, time on site, behavioral cues, conversion rates, and more will tell you volumes about how well your inbound marketing strategy performs in the real world. Because your future marketing activity will be built on these metrics, it’s vital to have hard numbers about your current inbound marketing program’s overall effectiveness.
Make It Flexible
What your audience wants today may not be what it needs a month from now. Content marketing doesn’t just reach your prospects; it changes them. The entry-level blog reader who learns more about your product or service after seeing your previous posts is now a more educated lead who is ready for more in-depth content. You need to be adaptable enough to supply it while still remaining approachable to other top-of-funnel leads. Trends also shift over time, and you need to be able to move with them. That might mean adapting to new social media channels, incorporating additional media into email, or building a stronger video presence.
The power of inbound marketing is growing rapidly. These five fundamentals help you grow with it and ensure that you won’t be left behind as your market’s knowledge expands.