Understanding the value that a certain aspect of our efforts bring to the business is the essence of understanding your business. However, some efforts are front-loaded and don’t show results immediately. When it comes to inbound marketing, this is very true. Early adapters of inbound sometimes wonder, “is inbound marketing pricing too much to justify spending my budget?” However, when the results do show up, they are substantial.
Big Picture of Inbound
Understanding the big picture of inbound is the first step to understanding why inbound may win out over other marketing techniques in the long run, but will at least continue to be an invaluable tool in the marketer’s toolbox.
Inbound marketing is growing for 2 primary reasons. One, people have the power to find their own solutions in today’s easy tech world; it is so easy to access information, such as this article. Because people are going to search for what they want and need, someone is going to be found online. The real question is, will it be you whom they find or will it be your competitors?
Secondly, inbound allows for leads to be warmed up before sales makes contact, which increases close rates. Almost no one, probably not even you, likes to have a salesperson in your face pitching their product. Even if they are not pushy, you may have no interest in the product and it may very well be a complete waste of your time. So from this perspective, it could be said that outbound marketing is a bit pushy and has the propensity to waste the time of both parties.
What Goes Into Inbound?
As I mentioned before, inbound requires some consistent TLC in order to generate some results. I am going to run through a short list of things that go into inbound in the beginning stages, some aspects are consistent and ongoing .
- To start, the website needs to be optimized for mobile, because about 50% of internet usage is mobile these days. Furthermore, social media marketing is very mobile and your site must not push away these users…if it is difficult to view on mobile, don’t kid yourself, they will leave. Period.
- Secondly, social media channels must be chosen and accounts must be setup.
- Tertiary, buyer personas must be defined and instituted into the marketing strategy.
- Then, a mobile-ready blog must be setup and the blog should appeal to your personas.
- Once the blog is ready, a campaign must be created and it must appeal to one persona (usually), but sometimes two is acceptable.
- Keywords and key-phrases must then be strategically chosen, while considering the nature of your target persona’s speech tendencies. Keywords must be found that match your persona, yet have relatively small competition, but still have decent search volumes in Google.
- Then a download must be created to give users something for their email. However, this must be something that is valuable. The essence of inbound marketing is to get users to want to download the item, but to also increase your thought leadership once they read your download. If it is really good, it may even get shared among these user’s friends, providing you greater exposure. So, quality is very important.
- After the download is set, it needs to be put online and landing pages (sometimes called squeeze pages) need to be created to capture the user’s email, name, and other general information.
- Next, a minimum of 2 calls-to-action (CTAs) need to be generated to give users a graphical option to download your downloadable content. These will then be built into the blog and website.
- Then it is time to blog about the subject of the download. Usually, 2-5 keywords are chosen per campaign, and then 1-3 posts are created around each keyword. As a general rule of thumb, I don’t do less than 5 blog posts per campaign, but usually it is more like 10 or more. Blog posts are then steadily released.
- Next, the hashtags must be researched. While it is true that not all social media platforms support hashtagging, the ones that do support them can bring a significant increase in traffic due to the reach of relevant hashtags.
- Before the blog posts are released, I usually set the social media to automatically post on given days and then incorporate the hashtag strategy into these posts.
- Once the blog post releases and the social media posts are sent out, it is time to network and share the post with relevant social groups and communities.
- Finally, emails to existing customers can be sent out to drive additional blog traffic.
While there are a lot of additional steps that can be done, such as off-page SEO, social media building, etc. This list only gives a glimpse into what the inbound marketer’s daily schedule is. Getting traffic generated and getting leads is essential to business and marketing. Doing it the inbound way can be extremely lucrative, if it is done correctly.
Cost of Inaction
We have covered a lot of ground, in terms of what inbound is and what it requires. Nonetheless, we have not talked much about what happens if we do not undertake inbound. I said before that buyers are still going to be online searching and other marketers will be going online to win these buyer’s business.
To really answer this question of the cost of inaction, lets look at what inbound marketing has been doing since 2006…growing. It is now a part of many marketer’s toolboxes and HubSpot’s success validates the success and acceptance of the inbound movement. Next, lets look at the competition. More and more companies are starting to implement inbound into their marketing strategy to some capacity. If the growth of this is increasing and the competition is increasing, when do you feel it is time to get in? Next week? Today? Yesterday?
As far as putting a dollar amount on the cost of inaction, that is extremely difficult to do in a mere article, because there are too many variables. It is difficult to say how good your offering is, experienced your writers are, and how good you are at marketing. Other factors come into play also, such as graphic design ability and best practices for engaging people on social media. What I can say with absolute certainty is that inbound is good for consumers and it is respectful of their timing. For that reason, inbound will not be going anywhere soon. Inbound is here to stay and companies who are committed to it will make a lot of money from the inbound methodology.
The Experience Factor
Don’t misunderstand me for a minute. There are definitely people who burn out while trying to incorporate inbound into their marketing strategy. Unfortunately, they quit because they do not see the results, but this has its own reason. Experience.
An example of experience is the speed of execution. Quick execution of inbound marketing tactics is imperative to cover as much ground as possible while getting everything up and running. There is so much to do when we set up a new account, but we know that the faster we get the inbound engine firing on all cylinders, the faster the client will see an ROI. This is huge for us! We have to show ROI for clients as quickly as possible.
Another example is knowing where to go in order to reach the target market. By looking at data, this can be refined as time goes on, but getting it as close to right the first time takes experience. Shortening the time between starting and realizing an ROI may mean the difference between getting burned out or realizing just how valuable inbound marketing is.
If you are still interested in learning more about inbound, this links to a list of posts covering various aspects of inbound: The Inbound Marketing Overview