Last week, my teenage daughter asked me why people sometimes use stuffy, overcomplicated words to describe ordinary and approachable objects. She asked why we use the term “charcuterie board” when really they’re just fancy Lunchables. She’s not wrong. Anyway, her question inspired me to think about ways this happens in business, but more specifically, in marketing.
It’s tempting to use jargon around colleagues and other copywriters, but it can be hard to follow if you’re not in the thick of marketing day-to-day. That’s why I want to start a little series on common marketing terms for non-marketers. And we’re kicking things off with…
If you’ve spent any time on the Internet in the last decade, chances are you have either benefited from inbound marketing (sometimes known as content marketing) or created marketing tactics based on the concept maybe without even realizing it.
Inbound marketing, as defined by HubSpot, is “a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them.” In other words, inbound marketing strategies create relationships between a business and its customers, clients or prospects. And best of all, it works to solve problems.
Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing
Traditional marketing techniques like television commercials, print advertisements, radio spots, tradeshows and more are the epitome of outbound marketing. Outbound marketing aims to interrupt its audience. I like to think of it as “Look at me!” marketing.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with outbound marketing. There’s a reason why we still see commercial after commercial even in today’s world of on-demand streaming services. And that’s because it works.
But often, small businesses can’t compete in the world of outbound marketing. The cost of entry is way too high. The competition is fierce. And there’s a whole lot of noise without a lot of customization.
Small businesses have much more success with inbound marketing, or “There you are!” marketing. I like to think of it this way because inbound marketing allows you to show enthusiasm for solving your audience’s problems. It’s a warm invitation to your content, products and services. And, when done well, positions your ideal customer as the hero of the story you’re telling.
Inbound marketing uses resources like relevant blogs, social media campaigns, ebooks, SEO-driven content, and webinars to provide value to the consumer and help them succeed. Again, referencing HubSpot, inbound marketing attracts, engages and delights consumers in a cycle building momentum and an exceptional foundation for customer experience.
Impress Your Audience Using Buyer Personas
Since inbound marketing works to capture an audience’s attention where they are instead of interrupting them at random, one key element of a successful inbound marketing strategy is the buyer persona.
Buyer personas, also known as ideal client avatars, are somewhat fictional characters that represent who wants to buy from your business. You might be thinking, “Why do I need a buyer persona when I’ll sell to anyone who comes through the door?” However, developing a buyer persona helps you really understand your ideal customer and why they do the things they do, so you can better meet their needs. And that is essentially the whole point of inbound marketing.
A great buyer persona allows you to create value-added content, promote educational material, and develop products and services that solve your customers so well that they don’t know what they did without you.
We’ve laid out all the steps to creating your first persona here (and how to have fun while doing it!), so you can reference it whenever you’d like.
But there’s still a lot to know about inbound marketing…
Influence Your Industry with Marketing Automation
Once you understand your ideal client and what drives their action, you can begin to create content to help solve their problems (or keep them entertained). Some of our favorite inbound marketing content we produce for our clients here at SizzleForce include instructional lead magnets, fun and sizzling personality quizzes, informative (but not stuffy!) white papers, and more.
And delivering that content is made easy through marketing automation.
Inbound marketing automation can either make or break the customer engagement experience. It’s the tool that brings your content to life and makes it personal for the user receiving it. And it keeps you from having to sit at your computer serving new interested parties 24/7.
Essentially, marketing automation is any form of communication that can be written ahead of time (with a thoughtful strategy), prepopulated into a content management system like MailChimp or ActiveCampaign, and scheduled to run on its own as new leads come in contact with your brand. (You can read more about this here).
The trouble with this part of the inbound marketing game is that everyone is doing it, but only a few are doing it well. Just think about your own inbox that is stuffed with thousands of emails with generic subject lines that are trying to grab your attention (or, worse, the dreaded “Hey [FName]!” snafu).
That’s why I encourage you to not rush the content development and strategy piece of marketing automation. Book a day or two work retreat to really think through how users will engage with your content and how to make it an over-the-top incredible experience for them. Hire a professional if you have to (I know a great team I can recommend ?). Do anything but rush through this process. If you nail your marketing automation, you set the standard for your industry and your competition will be falling all over themselves to copy you.
Increase Your Income Using Landing Pages and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
The final thing we’ll cover today about inbound marketing strategies is how to get more eyeballs on all of that beautiful content you created to help your ideal client. Yes, you need lead generation, but one underutilized tactic that is proven to boost your bottom line is crafting a landing page that works.
Often, I’ve seen entrepreneurs rush to get their marketing automation up and running that they sacrifice the user experience on their website to get it done. User experience matters.
Consider this, when you invite someone to your home, you want them to feel comfortable and to have what they need. Sure, you might not mind them poking around your pantry looking for extra napkins or cracking open the linen closet to find a forgotten toothbrush. But ideally, they have what they need right from the start.
The same goes for your landing page and website. Those should be kind and inviting online spaces for your ideal client to discover what they might not know, learn how you can help them, and start to trust you and your team.
The other piece that goes hand-in-hand with creating a welcoming space online is search engine optimization. Direct links are great and work well for sending people from social media channels and email to your website, but you’re leaving people you can help on the table if you miss out on targeting important keywords that they are already searching for.
I know, we’ve covered a lot today. Inbound marketing can skyrocket your impact on your ideal audience but it can feel like a full-time job. If you need help getting your marketing efforts moving, consider adding a virtual CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) to your team! Schedule a call with me to find out if that’s the right move for your business or to see other ways we can help you reach your goals.