Inbound marketing is one of the most exciting initiatives to arrive on the marketing and business scene in the past five years. If you are not investigating inbound marketing at the moment, it is time to take action.
One of the biggest challenges of running a business is remaining relevant and adapting to change. Whether you are starting out, established or wondering what you got yourself into, the ability to adapt and stay ahead of the latest trends, initiatives and marketing tools is a ‘must have’ skill in the entrepreneurial kit bag. It’s why I love my job and continue to do so!
The mantra that ‘constant change is here to stay’ is an oldie but a goodie. It has never been more relevant than right now – technology has accelerated at such a pace that only those who brace, adapt and adopt will survive. You can be sure that nothing stays the same in how you promote your company. The tools are constantly changing, which in turns requires us – as the drivers of business – to evolve and stay fresh.
To have the best chance of long-term success, you’ll need to stay abreast of and leverage breakthroughs in marketing. Of course, there are plenty of ‘red herrings’ – i.e. marketing fads it would be better not to follow. I’ve seen plenty of marketing initiatives emerge in a blaze of fireworks and fizzle out just as quickly.
Inbound marketing is NOT one of these red herrings. It is an intelligent strategy and, if executed well, will give you plenty of upside including the ability to convert prospects while you sleep 24/7. I strongly believe it gives you one of the most extraordinary toolsets to grow your company.
So, what is it?
Inbound marketing is a term first coined by Hubspot’s founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah in 2006 and since adopted by marketing automation companies and marketers globally. The premise is that with the rise of the internet, search and social media platforms, customers are better equipped, better researched and more knowledgeable than ever before about what they need. So, your new objective is to capture them at the early stages of their decision-making process and draw them inbound towards your brand – educating and romancing them on the way in.
Inbound Marketing was created to react to this new customer. It is about making it easier for others to find your company when potential customers are conducting an initial search. It is about catching them when they are ‘’just looking’’, ‘’just doing some early research’’ and not really sure what it is all about or even knowing particularly what they need. Inbound marketing strategy suggests it is at this early stage you intervene, communicate and drive the relationship.
The Inbound marketing toolset provides us a whole new way of looking at marketing and a new way of acquiring customers. So rather than exclusively pushing your message out, you are pulling the interest in –catching the customer with content relevant to them just when they need it.
How does this work in practice?
The tactics and levers around inbound marketing are all about creating a content strategy that produces shareable content using a combination of keywords, video, mobile strategy, blogs, social media, articles, website content, SEO and longtail search words.
It’s about thinking about the questions your prospects will ask and what they need to know before they have determined what it is they need. It’s also about being able to provide answers on the emotion, value, deliverables and the implementation of your service and perhaps even a future proposition.
Sure, don’t forget outbound marketing efforts and keep them going in sync – marketing is always about an integrated approach – but make sure you direct focus on the inbound effort and make it a 2018 priority. Inbound tactics geared towards catching people who have just started the journey to buy ‘what you do’ have significantly better results than when you interrupt people who have little or no interest in buying from you.
Inbound marketing is intrinsically linked with CRM and your database of contacts and I still believe your database is the most important asset you own (along with your team). After an extensive evaluation of the tools out there, I am implementing Microsoft Dynamics and Click at my company. But read widely and educate yourself on the range of tools available – Marketo, Salesforce, Sugar CRM, Hubspot and many more. After a lifetime of working in tech, it is a joy to see the advent of intelligent marketing giving you the chance to catch your customer earlier and earlier in the buying cycle.
The combination of technology and automation continues to make it so much easier for us as business owners to market effectively – good luck on your inbound marketing adventure. Your new success is about to start!
About the author:
Sharon Williams is a pioneer in the Australian marketing and PR industry. She is a CEO, Fellow of the PRIA, international speaker, personal brand expert, entrepreneur, mentor, marketer, media commentator and frequent mainstream editorial contributor. Under Sharon’s leadership and entrepreneurial flair, Taurus is now recognised as one of Australia’s highest profile agencies, offering unparalleled levels of service to global corporations including Advance, UTS:INSEARCH, Appster, Napoleon Perdis and Clean Up Australia.