You've seen the trend - we all have. Marketing for small business has evolved. Where traditional outbound marketing strategies such as advertising and direct mail used to be the rule, the savvy business is adopting inbound marketing strategies to engage prospective customers. What is it and what are the steps to inbound marketing success? Inbound marketing has interested prospects coming to you for information, and as you build a social following, you turn that following into leads. That’s why more businesses are turning to inbound marketing for lead generation – using social media and blogs to engage, educate and ultimately have an already interested audience see the benefits of buying their product or services.
Need more convincing? Andy, you say, we've heard that, but really, what does “more” customers mean? A study from MIT and Hubspot reveals that 92.7 percent of companies have increased their sales leads using inbound marketing. Of those companies, 56.3 percent who use inbound marketing increased the number of sales leads by at least 50 percent. That’s 50 percent. Inbound marketing clearly is delivering a big payback, especially when you find the right lead generation consultants to help you.
The steps to inbound marketing success are critical. This approach to marketing requires you to engage online, providing information and content that interests your target audience and (by the way, these next six words are key) keeps them coming back for more. As your online relationship matures, as they trust you and your expertise, your social media followers become more willing to learn more about your organization. Through your engagement processes they gladly surrender email and contact information and move up in the sales pipeline. Overnight - not exactly, but overtime - absolutely.
So what’s the best strategy to engage with your prospects online? Here are the 5 steps to inbound marketing success, as promised:
5 Steps to Inbound Marketing Success
Decide on your best engagement option. You have many (many!) choices when it comes to engaging with your target audience online – blogging, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, you name it. Each option has a different approach and reaches your audience in a different way. What is your best approach? Ask yourself, where does your target customer hang out online? Are you offering product or services? Consumers, for example, are more likely found on Facebook and Pinterest, while professionals are best found on Linkedin. Determine the best channels to suit your needs, and be sure you have the resources to stay sufficiently active and engaged. Whatever you do, don’t over-commit! That’s a sure way to have you burn out and drop everything once the initial zeal wears out. Have you ever been on someone’s Facebook business page and they haven’t posted since Thanksgiving? Yeah, not good. Pick one or two sites to start and build your audience slowly and steadily.
First you listen.... Really important here so get this down - Before diving into the online conversation, take the time to listen to see what’s trending and how best to talk to your audience. Effective inbound marketing is about building trust through conversation. Before you start talking about what you do, listen to what your followers are interested in (this will also help you in your personal relationships - free advice there). Remember, you want to entice with conversation, not drive them away with a sales pitch!
...then you engage. Once you have an understanding of the rules of conversation, you can start to speak up. If you think of inbound marketing as an online cocktail party, then you want to engage your audience with an amusing story or insights they won’t get elsewhere. Choose topics that are interesting and relevant and don’t be a bore.
Convert conversations into sales leads. Be sure to weave a call to action into your conversations. Direct your contacts to your web site for more information. When they are on your website you can ask for an email address and/or phone number to convert the conversation into a sales lead. Use social media and other channels to engage, but use the call to action to drive the web traffic and convert at your website.
- Measure the results. To help you refine your inbound marketing program, be sure to measure your success. Use Google Analytics and other tools to measure where your leads are coming from. This will tell you which channels and which topics are of most interest to your target audience and show you where to invest your time and resources to increase the number of sales leads.
There is definitely both art and science to building a successful inbound marketing program. You need to know your audience, where they look for information, and what subjects will interest them. And you need to know how to use that insight to generate an enticing conversation that will draw followers to your website. Interested followers who can’t wait to purchase your product or engage your services. It all starts with the right level of engagement at the first point of contact. Follow these 5 steps to inbound marketing success, and you’ll be well on your way!