Apply the right combination of content, calls-to-action, distribution platforms, and promotion tools to boost the effectiveness of your inbound marketing.
No matter how much time and effort you put into outbound sales and creating partnerships, there is a limit to how many clients you can attract through these efforts.
Why? Because there is a limit to your time and resources and to the quality and extent of your network of direct contacts.
You must give your prospects a chance to discover you and encourage them to ‘walk through your door’ so they either learn more about your solution or make a purchase.
You also need to give potential customers proof that you have the relevant knowledge and experience to solve their problem and are worthy of their attention.
This process of building visibility and credibility to generate leads is known as inbound marketing.
In this guide, I walk you through the four building blocks you need to get right to boost the impact of your inbound marketing.
INBOUND MARKETING LEADS PROSPECTS DOWN A PATH
Your inbound marketing fills the top of your sales funnel with new prospects and takes them down a path to purchase.
Each stage of your sales funnel represents a target customer’s thoughts or actions.
Check out the illustration for examples of each.
Your engagement with potential customers can come from digital tools and platforms like social media or email, as well as via public relations activities, like presence at conferences, events, or the media.
I focus on digital marketing in this article.
If executed well, inbound marketing is the most efficient way to build your sales and is critical if you want to build a scalable business.
The likelihood of generating a sale from an inbound lead is 8-9 times greater than if you follow up on an outbound lead.
A word of warning: while you can start inbounding marketing immediately, you’ll find it only generates a meaningful impact over time.
You need to give potential customers an opportunity to become aware of your product or service and find the right hook to motivate them to act.
You’ll also need to generate multiple types of content, on multiple platforms, on a regular basis.
A LinkedIn post every so often might make you feel like you’re doing inbound marketing, but you can’t expect it to have any impact on lead generation.
Once you get your inbound marketing right, though, the domino effect will be amazing!
You’ll not only start closing more deals, but you’ll have a deeper understanding of your prospect’s problems and needs, helping you to improve your value proposition and customer messaging.
INBOUND MARKETING BUILDING BLOCKS
1. Content: Fuel your inbound marketing
Content: post, blog, video, podcast, presentation, case study, graphic, checklist, worksheet, webinar
Generating fresh and valuable content will raise your target customer’s awareness and interest and motivate them to take action.
Your content should do one of four things:
- Educate – share insights and tools and help your target customer deliver better results.
- Inspire – give them a reason to believe in what they do and make them think.
- Engage – get them to share their own POV and insights and get a ‘virtual conversation’ going.
- Promote – make target customers aware of your successes and your services.
Which of these four goals your content achieves will depend on the form it takes and the distribution platform you use.
A free blog or podcast, for example, will most likely educate your audience.
You could use social media to promote your services by sharing news about the success of a specific client or to build your credibility by revealing your presence at an important industry event.
It’s critical that you publish content regularly, so you stay fresh and relevant.
One great way to do this without having to come up with new ideas is to take a single piece of content and create multiple versions of it for distribution across various platforms.
For example, you could ‘repurpose’ a single blog article into a series of quotes, graphics, charts, and videos, distributing them across various platforms.
Creating and maintaining a content calendar will help you plan the production and placement of your content on a recurring basis.
2. Call-to-Action: Encourage customers to engage
Call-to-Action: download, sign-up, schedule, fill out, register, order
Once you’ve created content, you need to give your target customer something to do.
This is known as a call-to-action and gives them a reason to engage with you, your content, or whatever it is that you’re selling.
Calls-to-action are also a great way to measure the effectiveness of your inbound marketing.
By tracking your audience’s response, you can see how many target customers are willing to engage with whatever it is you’re offering.
You don’t need to have a call-to-action in every piece of content you produce, but you should integrate these into your overall content mix.
There are three potential outcomes you can request via a call-to-action:
- Access: provide access to content (e.g., download, sign up).
Use this for a ‘lead magnet’, where you provide a checklist, worksheet, case study, or free webinar in exchange for an email address.
- Meet: organize a 1-on-1 meeting (e.g., schedule, fill out).
Use this when you want your target customer to book a call so you can tell them more about your product or service in a ‘face-to-face’ discussion.
- Purchase: encourage a buying decision (e.g., register, order).
Use this to register for a paid workshop or to purchase your product online.
3. Distribution: Reach prospects where they are
Distribution Platforms: website, landing page, social media, email, podcast
1. Website or landing page
For inbound marketing to be effective, you must send target customers somewhere where they can engage with your content.
This can be your website, or in certain cases, a dedicated landing page.
A landing page is where leads generated from various digital marketing activities will land after clicking on your call-to-action.
To make sure you maximize the potential conversions, make sure you landing page matches your call-to-action, is focused on a single call-to-action, and includes elements like images, testimonials, and videos that support your core message.
2. Social media platforms
Social media platforms are great places to share and promote your content.
Some content will be created directly on the platform, while other content will ‘sit’ somewhere else, and you will simply use social media to drive traffic to that content.
For example, you can write a post about an event you spoke at that appears on Facebook.
Alternatively, you can write a blog article hosted on your website and post a short summary on LinkedIn with a link to the blog post and a call-to-action to read the entire blog there.
3. Email marketing
One of the long-term benefits of inbound marketing is that it enables you to compile a list of email addresses from target customers who have expressed an interest in your content, product, or service.
The fastest way to gather email addresses is through lead magnets and webinars, where your audience needs to provide an email address to gain access.
Building an email list enables you to nurture your relationship with prospects who are aware and interested in your offer but need more time to decide whether to take action or make a purchase decision.
For example, if a prospect downloaded an eBook (lead magnet) that offers more information about a product, you can automatically send emails that help to further the buyer’s knowledge.
Or, if they bought one of your products, you could send them emails that prompt them to return to your online shop.
A great way to nurture your relationship with target customers is to produce an email newsletter that provides valuable insights into your area of expertise or details about your product or service.
You can use popular email software like Mailchimp, Hubspot, or ActiveCampaign to automate some elements of your email marketing efforts.
4. Promotion – Boost the impact of organic marketing
Promotion: digital advertising, search engine optimization (SEO), co-marketing
1. Digital advertising
While inbound marketing builds heavily on ‘organic’ or unpaid activities, you can use paid digital advertising to boost the impact of your efforts.
These ads are usually paid on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) basis, that is you pay a fee for each click that generates traffic to your website.
Typical forms of digital advertising include:
- Display: ads on the top, middle, and side of web pages.
- Social: ads that target specific audiences on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter.
- Search: ads that appear at the top of search listings in Google.
- Remarketing: ads that follow website visitors with prompts to return.
2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is a critical part of your inbound strategy because if you can’t be found, then you’re not going to exist in the minds of your target customers.
Use SEO tools like SEM Rush, Moz Pro, and Ubersuggest to identify the right keywords in your content.
These tools help you optimize your website content and structure and improve the chances that the content you produce will appear on the first page in relevant searches.
3. Co-Marketing Partnerships
You can also use the reach and credibility of other businesses to raise the effectiveness of your inbound marketing.
Explore partnerships with organizations that already reach your target customer and negotiate agreements for them to distribute your content via their social media channels or email lists.
Check out my blog on how to create win-win partnerships that can support your inbound marketing activities.
PUT THESE BUILDING BLOCKS TO WORK
Check out these examples that illustrate how you can put together the four building blocks of inbound marketing into a single digital project.
Each example can be used for the exact same product but offers different types of content at different levels of promotion.
In the first scenario, you keep it simple.
You offer free access to a text-based blog article, using social media posts and an email to your subscribers to read the article on your website.
1. Scenario: Free access, free distribution
- Funnel Stage/Goal: Awareness
- Content Form: Text-based blog
- Call-to-Action: Read the article
- Distribution: Website
- Promotion: Social media posts, email
In the second scenario, you supplement organic communication with paid distribution.
You offer free access to a live webinar, using social media posts, emails to your subscribers, and some paid advertising on digital platforms asking prospects to sign up for your webinar.
This approach also enables you to expand your email list so you can nurture these prospects via future emails.
2. Scenario: Free access, paid distribution
- Funnel Stage/Goal: Interest & Desire
- Content Form: Free webinar
- Call-to-Action: Sign up for webinar
- Distribution: Landing page (video chat platform)
- Promotion: Social media posts, email, Facebook ads.
In the third scenario, you require payment for access and invest in additional paid distribution to ensure that enough people are aware of your offer.
This also means that you should expect a financial return on your investment and shouldn’t view this as purely a brand- or awareness-building exercise.
3. Scenario: Paid access, paid distribution
- Funnel Stage/Goal: Decision
- Content Form: Video series & worksheets
- Call-to-Action: Click to buy
- Distribution: Landing page (i.e., learning platform)
- Promotion: Social media posts, email, FB/LI/Google ads
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