The rise of inbound marketing: 5 steps to get started

It’s no secret consumers are starting to tune out traditional outbound marketing techniques. Still, I often sit in client meetings listening to marketers strategize about finding their next lead or prospect. They are constantly scouring outside lists or 3rd party data for names that they can acquire to send outbound marketing communications. But to reach today’s consumers, there are different methods to attract new customers, centered on the rise of inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing brings in warm qualified leads rather than starting with cold calling potential customers, allowing you to connect with prospects through the channels, materials and experiences they interact with and find most intriguing. Search Engine Optimization (SEO), blogging, webinars, videos, podcasts and social media activity are all  methods to attract consumers to your brand through inbound marketing.

What are the steps I need to follow to start an inbound marketing program?

  1. First, create a plan. Before you do anything, take time to determine the goals and objectives of your inbound marketing program.  Remember that preparedness is a necessity to ensure success.  You may execute on all the right things to drive traffic, but never sell anything.  Decide on your goals and objectives up front and make sure they are measurable against your organizations key metrics.
  2. Second, you need create engaging content to drive people to your owned media. As a technologist, of course I would recommend setting up a Digital Asset Management or Content Management System to store, tag and organize your content.
  3. Third, you need to optimize your SEO function to pay money for the keywords that are driving the best traffic.
  4. Fourth, decide on where you are going to activate your content in the online ecosystem. It could be through guest blogs, YouTube videos, social media sites and etc.
  5. Lastly, ensure you have an effective analytic measurement program to tweak your inbound marketing tactics.

Prevent inbound marketing missteps

An important part of inbound marketing that many overlook is ensuring that the customer experience when prospects land on your owned media is engaging.  Focusing on content is extremely important.  Understanding how the prospect was led to your media and customizing the landing page is often the first experience someone will have with your brand. Ensuring that this page has the right content and call to action is critical to the next interaction you’ll have with that potential customer. You will likely want to call out specific product features, offer more information such as white papers or e-books, or ask for more information so you can activate the customer. Inbound marketing can help marketers deliver more personalized and engaging experiences – but once you get started with inbound marketing you must be ready to deliver on these experiences.

Testing is an important piece of measuring your progress and your success. Test different versions of creative or landing pages to see which was the most effective. Understand your customers’ path to purchase and where they may have abandoned to improve your on-site experience. Additionally, try to figure out what method led to your most valuable customers. Does SEO only lead to one-time low value customers but blogging creates longer term valued relationships? Does an engaging piece of content win over asking for more customer information? Test and measure repeatedly to ensure future success, it’s likely you’ll uncover a balance of a few different methods that work best for your brand.

Inbound marketing is a proven method to drive qualified prospects to your brand through content. But, marketers must be ready to deliver on personalized customer experiences to convert qualified leads in to new business.