Have you seen Mad Men?
Of course you have. Hasn’t everyone? I ask because one of the defining characteristics of this show (besides the masterful acting of Jon Hamm) is how it portrays the olden days of advertising.
Newspaper spots, full-page magazine ads, radio and television commercials—even home letters.
These were all the bread and butter of advertising back in the day. And up until recently, going through ad agencies used to be the only way to spread the word about your business.
Not so today. In fact, the world of marketing has never been different than it is right now, especially with the rise of inbound marketing.
With its accessibility and proven conversion power, this new strategy is taking industries from every sector by storm. And if you want to survive in today’s market, a well thought out, quality inbound marketing campaign isn’t just ideal, it’s essential.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide answering the question “Just what is inbound marketing?” We’ll show you what separates it from traditional forms of advertisement as well
as give you several tips (with real-world examples) for how to create an effective inbound campaign.
Inbound Marketing: What’s the Big Deal?
You’ve probably heard the term before, and if you haven’t, why the heck not?
Inbound marketing is everywhere these days, from clothing producers and electronics manufacturers to pool companies and construction firms. In fact, one aspect that makes inbound marketing so popular is the fact that any industry can take advantage of it.
Beyond that, inbound marketing campaigns are generally much cheaper to design and launch when compared to traditional advertising avenues. Up to 62% cheaper actually. Plus, it generates about 3x as many leads!
And it’s not just attracting more people with a lower budget that makes inbound marketing so popular. A study conducted by Aberdeen showed that companies that adopt inbound marketing strategies can see conversion rates boosted by almost 600% compared to companies that don’t.
And although the accessibility, affordability, and effectiveness of inbound marketing all sound great, you’re probably still asking yourself, “What is inbound marketing?”
So, What Is Inbound Marketing?
Also known as content marketing, an inbound marketing strategy revolves around the production of “content,” packages of valuable and enjoyable information or products. These could be blog posts, articles, podcasts, or even board games.
Essentially, anything that can be sent, shared, and used can be considered content.
Inbound marketing works like this: the more your company creates more useful and prolific content, the more this content is shared among the public, thus building your audience with each and every new piece of content.
The bigger your audience (and the better your content is), the more your company becomes established as an authority in its industry.
And, most importantly, the more authority you have, the more your audience will look to your business to handle their particular needs.
Take ABC Dealership, a hypothetical company that has built up a substantial online presence. The company blog tackles a wide range of common business technology challenges and is read by an audience numbering in the thousands.
When one of his readers has an office technology problem, ABC dealership is the first to pop into their heads. And beyond that, given all the information they regularly send out to their readers, it’s obvious that they know their stuff too.
It’s both exposure and credibility in a single marketing tactic.
Most companies start their inbound marketing efforts with a public blog. And as every inbound marketer will tell you, a blog is one of the best and most essential inbound platforms you can have.
And with 58% of marketers agreeing, there’s no reason not to start up a blog today if you don’t already have one.
From there, all it takes is to start producing!
3 Foolproof Tips for a Winning Inbound Marketing Campaign
Once you’ve started on your inbound journey, you might take a look around and think, “What do I do now?”
And that’s okay! The inherent freedom that’s built into this type of marketing can be a bit overwhelming at times.
That’s why we’ve put together this list of three solid tips for anyone looking to beef up their inbound marketing campaign, along with a few examples of companies that are doing each particularly well.
So, have a look, and get producing!
Know Your Audience
What are their business goals? What kinds of problems is their business faced with today? What business challenges are impacting their industry?
All of these questions are great starts to figuring out what makes your customers tick.
And while knowing your audience’s overarching hopes, fears, and desires is a solid foundation of any marketing campaign, it’s only the beginning.
A truly adept strategy will probe the depths of your target market even deeper: where do they shop, what kinds of places do they hang out in online, how do they get their news, etc.
The more you know about your ideal customer, the better you’ll be able to cater your content creation to meet their needs and wants.
Beyond that, you’ll also have a better idea of where you should be focusing your distribution efforts. Using Snapchat to target an audience of seniors over eighty-five, for instance, might not be the best choice.
The great thing about the present for marketers is that there are so many new and easy-to-use technologies for customer research purposes. Companies like Salesforce, Oracle, and Infusionsoft all offer their customers a variety of behavior analytics that can clue you in on valuable info like who is consuming your content, where are they getting it, and how many people are they sharing it with.
One of the best parts about these software as a service (or SaaS) companies is that they provide memberships on a month-by-month basis. So, if you aren’t getting what you want from one, you can simply switch to another next month with little investment or hassle.
Case Study: Apple
Take one of their most recent products, the Apple Watch, as an example. Long before the watch was released, the United States began going through a sort of fitness explosion. And while the amount of exercise performed probably didn’t improve that much, people’s desire to track their fitness jumped enormously.
Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin, and countless other brands hopped on this bandwagon and released small, decently powered fitness trackers to meet the public’s demand.
And while fitness tracking is an incredibly small part of everything that an Apple Watch does and was designed for, Apple knew that the fitness-conscious consumer was going to be a huge part of their market.
As such, the content they produced surrounding the watch was, for the most part, based primarily on how exercise-friendly the piece of equipment is.
A great example of how knowing your audience can help you cater your content to the people that will find it the most useful.
Create Quality Content
There are a lot of different factors that go into what makes a piece of content amazing or not.
Let’s start with the core principles: a valuable message and a pleasing delivery.
Your content first and foremost needs to have substance. Gone are the days of keyword spamming and click-baiting to build up credibility and authority. If you want to grow your brand, you need to have something to say first.
One of the best ways to figure out what kind of content will be valuable for your audience is by engaging with them directly. What kinds of things do they love about your services? What do they hate? What do they wish you offered?
Take these ideas and expand upon them. Maybe write a blog post surrounding the frequently asked questions about your product. Or an article outlining the improvements that are currently in the works.
Or if your piece is outlining how to accomplish something (like, say, how to optimize their inbound marketing efforts), offer your readers actionable advice—strategies that they can implement immediately.
As mentioned in the tip above, knowing your target audience is the key to delivering content that they’ll find useful.
The next principle to focus on is creating well-crafted content. That means using a professional writer if you aren’t exactly good with words. Or a graphic artist to create diagrams and infographics if you lack talent in the arts.
It’s not just about glitz and salesmanship either. Quality content takes clear, effective communication. If you don’t have the skills to put out quality content, it’s up to you to hire someone who does.
A few key components of a solid piece of content include:
A strong headline (only 80% of readers get past a headline).
Incorporate visuals as much as possible (posts on Facebook with pictures had 2.3x as much engagement than those without them).
Break up your text with bullet points and short paragraphs. Also, keep the language simple and succinct.
Try to include storytelling as much as you can. Readers love to be sucked into another world by content and telling a story is one of the best ways to do that.
If you follow these tips and make sure you have a message worth spreading, you’re bound to grow your audience in no time at all.
Case Study: Microsoft
Tech giant Microsoft has been a leader in its industry for decades and, keeping in stride with its legacy, has become a shining example of quality content creation done right.
Take their media platform, Story Labs. This regularly updated article depository features a range of pieces focusing on everything from computing and medicine to journalism and community outreach.
Sounds like most other corporate blogs you’ve seen, right?
The standout characteristic of Story Labs, however, is that most articles involve an in-depth profile of a single individual. Articles go into their personal lives, their pasts, and how they are changing their fields with particular attention paid to fleshing out who this person really is.
Just like the name suggests, the articles tell a story. And people downright love it.
Atomize and Repurpose
So, you’ve been creating well-crafted, valuable content that really resonates with your audience for a couple of months now and everything is going fantastic.
The only problem? You’re running out of ideas…
Don’t worry. Every inbound marketer has run into this problem at one point or another.
While you want to make sure you don’t lose the momentum you’ve been building on by breaking away from your carefully crafted schedule, you certainly don’t want to put any content out there that doesn’t meet your quality standards.
The Solution: Atomizing and Repurposing
These are two concepts that will be invaluable for your inbound marketing efforts. Instead of waiting around for inspiration to strike and falling even further behind on your content
distribution, atomizing and repurposing let you take material you’ve already released and turn it into fresh new content that’ll keep your audience engaged.
First—repurposing. This strategy involves picking out a particularly popular piece of content you’ve created in the past and changing it up so that you can distribute it through another medium. Articles can be turned into podcasts, e-books can be shortened into blogs, and slideshows could be turned into quizzes. You get the gist.
And while repurposing content can be quite effective at building hype, engaging in this practice too often is likely to rub some of your audience the wrong way (“Haven’t I already seen this before?”).
The better method of creating more content from past material is by atomizing it. Instead of just redelivering your content through another method, atomizing involves breaking an idea down into chunks. That way, you can create individual pieces built around those smaller ideas.
If, for example, your most recent article on “The 7 Qualities to Look for in a Construction Firm” really seemed to bring in a lot of views, instead of scrambling for a new topic to write on or just turning it into a slideshow, you could atomize this post and go more in-depth into each of those seven qualities.
Not only are you avoiding putting out the exact same information that you’ve already shared, you’ve also turned one idea into seven different posts.
The key here is to rework the information so that the content is fresh. Simply sharing part of old content without giving it a new focus or lean might come off as a bit of a cop out for some of your audience.
Atomize and Repurpose Your Content: Example
One of the best examples of content atomization out there today was pointed out by inbound marketing thought leader Jay Baer. And believe it or not, it’s brought to you by Lowe’s.
FixInSix, a Vine-based video campaign created by the hardware company, has really done wonders for bringing in new customers. These six second clips show creative household maintenance tips that almost anyone can use.
Whether it’s the quirky stop-motion animation or the simplistic charm packed into every video, this campaign is a perfect example of how one solid content idea turned into over 100 unique videos and brought in more than 37,000 followers.
Inbound marketing is without a doubt one of the best ways to build a loyal audience and attract hordes of customers.
And while market trends might ebb and flow from day to day, following these three inbound marketing tips is a surefire way of getting your content marketing campaign off to a spectacular start.
So, go make some content!
For more information on how you can grow your business and build trust with your customers please contact us! Or join the conversation and leave a comment? Participation is step one!
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