As I’ve been busy setting up an inbound campaign for a client about to launch an innovative new technology, it occurred to me how easy this launch has been to organize. Upon reflection, I think it is because the Inbound Methodology gives us a playbook that makes sense and keeps us focused on doing the right things in the right order.
In case you’re not familiar with this concept, it comes from Hubspot, a leading marketing automation supplier, whose software is designed to make all your marketing items integrate seamlessly — as long as you start by answering the following questions.
1. Who is the exact and ideal person you are helping with your product, service, or technology? (Build a persona.)
Marketing 101: Knowing who your ideal customers are — their backgrounds, goals, challenges, and so on — makes it easy to create an effective marketing strategy to attract more of those types of people. If you’ve been in business a while, you likely know this information. But why not get it down on paper and use that to guide you? If you don’t have an inbound marketing or marketing automation software that lets you do that, Hubspot has made a free tool you can use.
Pay special attention to both their goals and challenges as you’ll use them to answer the next question!
2. What exactly do they need and how is my business uniquely qualified to fulfill this need? (Know and use your keywords.)
When people (and your customers are people!) need to solve problems, two of the most common places they’ll seek solutions are through advice from friends and colleagues or internet searches. If you’ve done a good job of distilling their goals and challenges, you know how they would phrase their questions. This will help you to figure out the right words and questions to help them find you.
If you’re new to using keywords, there are many resources available. Moz is the master if you’d like to study up, or you can jump right into finding suggestions using this great tool. (Thank you Dee Dee at Hubspot for suggesting!) If you use these tools, they will help set you up for success at the next step.
3. What do I have to offer to ongoing conversations about these topics? (Plan your blogging and social channels with an editorial calendar.)
So the inbound methodology (which is quite similar to the concept of Content Marketing) urges you to use your expertise to help solve problems. Blog posts are the easiest way to provide such content. Ideally, you’ll then be able to build on your posts by offering more robust informational resources such as ebooks, white papers, videos, demos, etc. to provide further help to potential customers in the hopes of building relationships with them.
(One other note — do be aware that potential customers may be at different stages of their “buyers’ journeys” and will need information that help them a) become aware of their problem, b) consider their potential solutions, and c) decide on your specific solution. If you skip the first two, you eliminate a huge percentage of your potential audience. Sometimes this concept is called lifecycle marketing.)
Your blogging will help people find you when doing web searches (if you’ve done your keywords!). You can and should amplify your reach by looking for other people talking about your keywords in social media. Also, it never hurts to email people in your contact list to let them know you’ve got relevant and timely information that could help them.
And if you do other “outbound” type of marketing like press releases and advertising, you’ve already built out the content by doing the above steps. Congrats! Two birds, one stone.
4. Is what I’m doing working? (Measure with real-time analytics at your fingertips.)
Ah, measurement…my favorite part of inbound. No guessing how you’re doing or waiting for an agency to report your stats to you.
Starting from Step 2 above, you’ve grounded your work in real-world feedback; you’ve found popular keywords for which you have a good chance of ranking well. Having determined your buyers’ needs and what specifically they are searching for, you’ve started to offer up information. Blog readership, CTA click-through rates, and social media monitoring give you real-time feedback on how things are working.
If you’ve used best practices such as tagging items to a campaign, utilizing landing pages, A/B testing and the like, you’ll soon see a dashboard of statistics updated in real-time so you can tweak, adjust, and improve.
I am frequently surprised to hear how few corporations are aware of inbound marketing and/or are using marketing automation software. I’m not alone. But I will acknowledge that one of the things that is making this launch go so well is that the company recognized the value of having an Inbound Certified consultant on board to be the taskmaster of getting stuff done.
If you’d like to explore how inbound marketing might be right for you, or if have any questions about it, leave a note in the comments. I’d love to continue this conversation.