by Joanna Ellis-Escobar
Inbound marketing is many things…but the one thing it’s not? Simple. It’s complex, multifaceted and, when done right, effective.
If you’ve wanted to implement inbound strategy but feel overwhelmed with where to start, here’s a list of 26 (some of them are very simple) easy-to-do ways you can use inbound marketing to transform your reach and strengthen everything there is when it comes to your brand identity. Read on for our list of the best ways you can use inbound marketing to surge ahead of your competition.
- Develop Buyers Personas – This is, in a nutshell, the single most important aspect of inbound marketing. Buyer Personas are fictional representations of who your target demographic is. Once you have researched the age range, gender, specific problem they have, where they go for info (Facebook? LinkedIn? Pinterest? Google search?) you can then create and deliver content they would find useful.
- Define, then address, pain points – You’ll start this process with your persona development, and you’ll use it in everything you do. You don’t want content that’s just fluffy and shows “yay, you can create content!” You want content that’s useful. So what’s the main reason your audience needs you? Great! Now show them how you can help!
- Personalize content – This is where your Buyers Personas become worth the time you invested in the process of getting them done. You know who your product or service is good for, and you know where those people are…now make sure your content is exactly what they need…and put it exactly where they go.
- Use forms – Using smart forms on your site accomplishes two things. One, you gain valuable data and information about your customers. And two, you make it as easy as possible on them. Smart forms dynamically adapt to your user, displaying data and updating per their experience. Have they been there before? Filled out a form before? Capture more info and a better picture of who your customer is through the use of smart forms.
- Make an editorial calendar – And stick to it. Calendars force you to stay organized, because to do a quarterly calendar, you obviously need to think ahead. It’s a time consuming process, but you’re front-loading the work for a seamless output that allows you to churn out content for the duration of your calendar.
- Create case studies – Nothing is more effective than proving you’re a viable, valuable solution. Let past successes do this for you! Invest in the development and packaging of your case studies. They don’t need to be super long, either. Use stats that show growth or improvement using your brand and some custom graphics. Format all your info in a neat, eye-catching package that will go a long way. Better yet, develop a template so you can just plop info in, making the process easy and reusable.
- Blog – I know this tip has somewhat of a “duh” factor to it…but you show me 10 brands with digital presence and I can show you at least five that aren’t blogging or that don’t blog consistently.
- Craft longform content – The biggest reason you’re putting time and effort into content marketing is to gain and establish your position as an authority in your industry. Enter longform content. Whitepapers and ebooks are great ways to become a thought leader. It’s more bang for your buck!
- Produce podcasts – Audio is the new black. Podcasts are all the rage, and if you can dedicate the time and resources to pulling one off (it’s actually easier than blogging, believe it or not), you can be deemed both entertainer and engager.
- Promote trial offers – Perception is everything…and when your buyers feel like you’re giving them something, even if it’s only for a limited time, it goes a long way.
- Make videos – Publishing a wide range of content in multiple formats means your audience will come to look forward to the element of surprise you offer them. Videos can be animated, set to music or just about anything you can think of. Let your creative side take over, because customers who are interested in you and your brand want as much as they can get.
- Offer live demos – Particularly if you have a niche product or service, customers overwhelmingly want to “try before they buy.” Recently I was very interested in an automated CMS that has all the bells and whistles. Like alllll of them. I was willing to pay. And they aren’t cheap. But you know what happened when I filled out the form, waited for the email response, scheduled the first call, went through the whole pitch and was ready to take the plunge? They fumbled. It was painful to get them to commit to a demo. That was it. I was out.
- Reduce, reuse, recycle – Repurposing is your new inbound BFF. Keeping tabs on the analytics of your posts means you’ll know which ones are particularly effective. Leverage that content by repurposing it. Turn a well-received blog into an infographic. And then write a shorter version. Or maybe do an ebook. If it worked once, chances are it will work again.
- Create and offer online courses – If you’re a service-related business and you have something to teach your peeps, do so! Online courses are often labor intensive to create, but once you put that time in, you can offer classes again and again. Teaching people something (especially if you’re doing it for free) is great way to build long-lasting relationships while you establish your authority.
- Post testimonials – You work hard to give great service or provide a premium product. Let your hard work pay off. Don’t be afraid to ask for testimonials. Especially when 85 percent of all consumers surveyed in a recent poll stated that they trust online reviews and testimonials as much as personal recommendations, according to BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey.
- Use FAQs – Do you find that a lot of people have the same questions for you? Use this as baseline research to create a page (or several blog posts) specifically designed to solve pain points. After all, that really is Inbound 101.
- Don’t just be social (on social)…BE SOCIAL, too – Got your Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter accounts all dialed in? Great! Being digitally social is awesome, but now get out there and actually be social. Networking events, conferences and trade shows are excellent ways to get your brand out there. Networking is as old as door-to-door sales. Why? Because people are inherently social! (Attending a great industry conference? Awesome! Don’t forget to promote when and where you’ll be all over your, you guessed it, social platforms).
- Remember a CTA – They came, they saw, they read…now what? Make sure you have a specific endgame in mind when people get to the end of your blog or find your landing page. Calls to action are text or buttons that lay out the next steps you want your user to take. “Download now” or “Want more info?” or “Reach out today” or “Contact us” are all examples of CTAs.
- Be available – Can a customer or lead contact you easily? It’s important…make sure that you have a clear and concise way for customers to reach out (and, of course, up your response time as much as possible).
- Cross promote – Inbound marketing is all about being where your audience is. In contrast to the “old school” way of marketing yourself (cold calling, mass mailing, placing ads in anything that has print), inbound makes it easy for your target audience to find you. Do this by cross promoting your content and brand across various channels and places you know you’re demographic will be.
- Remember: sharing is caring – You want people to share your content, but you need to make it easy on them. Adding social buttons to your site and blogs makes it as simple as a click for your readers to share your content. And shared content = value. If it’s good enough to share, it means you’re helping someone and they think you can help others, too.
- Don’t forget about SEO – Despite what you may have heard, SEO is far from dead. But optimizing your content doesn’t just involve putting specific keywords on a certain page of your site, either. Be sure your H1/H2 tags are optimized, that you write SEO-friendly title tags and meta descriptions, use alt tags on your images…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
- Keep your enemies closer – You know that old saying, and nowhere is it more applicable than in marketing. Not only do you want to stay on top of your competitors just from an innovation perspective (new products and services, new look of a web site or packaging), but it can also be very useful to keep tabs on what content they’re creating and how they’re delivering it. While you don’t want to (ever) copy your competitors, knowing what they’re doing can be extremely enlightening.
- Step outside the box – Creative sells. Go back to our last tip: know what your competitors are doing…if you know what they are doing, you also know what they’re not doing. And that can be a big advantage. Are you the only one posting short videos for your customers? That may just be the value prop that differentiates you from the shop next door.
- Be clever. Boring bores – Don’t get stuck creating the same content over and over. Mix it up! Throw an infographic in there, do a weekly “fun” post, run a contest, do something different.
- Promote. Promote again. Then…did we mention promote? – It’s great if you’re creating constantly, but according to Netcraft’s January 2018 Web Server Survey, there are more than 1.8 billion (yep, that’s a “B”) websites out there. Promote, promote, promote. Use social, ask people to share and more than anything, craft content that’s worth sharing! Because chances are, people won’t just stumble upon you unless you’re in the right place at the right time.
What’s your favorite inbound strategy? Do you think you could be doing more? If you’re ready to implement an inbound marketing strategy that works, but feel stuck in a rut doing the same ol’ same ol’ (getting the same results), let us help you. Flair Interactive has been helped hundreds of clients create and implement inbound strategy that works. We can help you, too. Reach out to Flair today to learn more about our inbound marketing services.
Image courtesy of typographyimages via Pixabay