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Inbound Marketing: How it works and how you can benefit Featured

From the blog of Thomas Moylan, Advice Unlimited's Social Media Specialist.

 

In American society, there are advertisements in your face everywhere you look. There are ads on billboards, television, radio, social media, automobiles painted as advertisements, pop ups and ad banners on every website and even people dancing with signs on street corners. With so many advertising strategies to choose from, it can be hard to decide which one is right for you and your company. In a society so full of advertisements, we have to question whether the targeted audience is even seeing the message in the ad, or if they’ve become so saturated with in-your-face advertisements that they simply avert their gaze. I have been looking into the facts about push (or outbound) advertising strategies and the general consensus is that while useful for major corporations that can spend the money on huge advertising campaigns, outbound advertising is not well accepted and, quite frankly, is perceived as annoying and invasive by  members of the public. In the government market, sequestration has significantly curtailed outbound advertising and large scale trade shows. One advertising/marketing strategy that has been getting a lot of buzz is inbound marketing, and this can dovetail nicely with a focused public relations program – still the best bang for the buck in your marketing communications toolbox. 

 

The pioneers of inbound marketing at Hubspot.com define it as marketing focused on getting found by customers. Traditional outbound marketing uses cold-calling, television ads, blast emails, print ads and trade shows. These strategies still can be used today, of course, but with the advancements in technology and the prevalence of social media, people are changing how they absorb their information. Inbound marketing is all about creating great content that will attract customers in a targeted market to your company’s services. The idea is to create incredible content, make the content available to the public in as many relevant places as possible, gather customers and leads from the distribution of your content and gather analytics on your content distribution to stay on top of productivity and efficiency. Public relations/marketing firms are devoting more time and energy to this way of thinking in the current climate.

 

Content is the most important element of inbound marketing.  It is essentially the lure on a fishing line and you need to make it the most appealing and interesting looking lure in order to attract the best fish in the market. The content should include pictures, videos or a fun interactive display that really catches the viewer’s attention. A public relations firm can be an amazing asset when creating content because that is what they excel at. Public relations specialists are trained to create content that is so interesting and insightful it will appeal to and be used by reputable and relevant publications. As with any aspect of public relations, knowing where to find the targeted audience is key. Once the content is created, the content is posted on as many blogs and social media websites as possible. This increases SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and creates a large funnel or hub for people searching your industry to find you and get enticed into visiting your website.

 

Once you have lured the public in with your immediate content, it is time to convert these people into customers. The immediate content should contain lots of photos, visually-stimulating media and short taglines about the product or service in order to catch your audience’s attention. Now you need to transform the public visitors into customers with your informative content. This information should show off the best features of your company. The public visitor needs to believe that you are the absolute best choice for what they need. The informative content should be strong at its basic level – this includes who you are, what you do, how you do it and why they should choose you over anyone else in the industry. We know that the public does not always have a lengthy attention span, so the content should be very informative in a concise package.

 

There are many inbound marketing strategies available to reach your potential customer through different communication channels to strengthen the relationship and help transform the visitor into a customer. It is important to remember the target audience, and leverage the tools and approaches that are most effective with that audience. For example, for consumer-facing products and services, a combination of email and social media marketing can be extremely effective.  According to Rob Zazueta, technology Evangelist at VerticalResponse, it is critical to combine email marketing and social media.  He states that, “companies that combine email and social media marketing have a 27% higher open rate than those who use email alone.” The first step is to acquire the customer’s email address in order to send out updates and promotional incentives. Advise them to follow your social media outlets but more importantly, encourage them to join an email list with exclusive incentives that will not be advertised through social media. Getting their email gives you a direct advertising channel to stimulate return sales. To develop the process and increase the reach of your company’s inbound marketing campaign, you should get your customers to share their successful experience with your company through their own social media outlets. This can be done by giving incentives or special offers to customers who do share your company with their network. This tactic can significantly increase your reach with very minimal cost to your business. The cost of the special offer will most often be paid for with new business from the customer’s social media sharing.

 

If you work with the government marketplace, particularly if you’re selling complex IT solutions, you would use a different approach that’s more focused on building long-term relationships and providing education and information to help the government make informed decisions around your solution. Always be respectful of the specific parameters you need to follow when reaching out to government customers. Many government employees won’t feel comfortable giving out their email, and cannot accept special incentive offers.  Still, there are creative and effective ways to use inbound marketing with this unique customer, to build awareness, relationships, and understanding of your solutions and services.

 

The most important element of inbound marketing is the content. A public relations firm can be a great asset when creating and spreading your company’s content for your audience to find. For additional information on inbound marketing and help developing an inbound marketing campaign, please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., check out our website at www.adviceunlimited.net, and follow us on twitter www.twitter.com/AdviceUnlim.

 

 

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