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In part one, I looked at the concept of inbound marketing and the philosophy behind it, which is to attract and retain interested prospects with great quality content.

Here, I’ll explain how to put that into practice, using five key steps.

Inbound marketing takes the different aspects used in traditional outbound marketing, like email and SEO, and adds this to content marketing, social media and advanced marketing automation technology, to create a complete, measurable system that can consistently bring in more leads and business.

From creating an audience...

This starts with a clear strategy for your content so that it matches what your buyers want at each stage of their buying cycle. By understanding what people want and creating different types of content, you then engage with people more powerfully than with traditional outbound approaches alone.

You start by building up confidence in your potential customers by becoming a thought leader in your industry.

...to attracting buyers

The thought leader approach means connecting with your potential customers online and sharing your knowledge when people are at their own stage of being ready and interested to talk about your particular product or service.

Alongside this, it’s essential to build up a strong and very credible online presence to create trust in your audience. You do this with case studies, customer testimonials and customer reviews. This approach is all about the specific stage your potential buyer is at and what they want.

 

Inbound marketing: How it works

Inbound marketing combines content marketing, social media and marketing automation to create a complete process and strategy for building audiences and generating leads.

Five steps to effective inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is advanced, but it’s also easy to use and relatively simple to put into place.

To make it work you need to follow a methodology covering all the key aspects:

  1. Listen: Research, analysis and marketing segmentation all add up to give you a clear picture of where your customers are.

  2. Create: High quality content in the right places targets the demand for your product or service.

  3. Engage: Publishing and promoting your strategic online data through social media and internet channels builds a two-way relationship between you and your potential customers.

  4. Transform: Lead management, scoring and nurturing transforms these conversations into leads - and leads into customers.

  5. Grow: Analysing, repeating and updating the process gives you continuous improvement and results.

Bear these steps in mind as a broad framework for your inbound strategy, which will employ all of the following disciplines:

Content marketing

This is about creating and designing content that people want, based on demand. Don’t just think articles and blog posts. Content should be varied - consider white papers, eguides, webcasts, mobile apps, animations and video.

Did you know that B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month those without?

The essential thing is to ensure you have a regular flow of high quality content on your website and shared with your social media communities. Build trust and confidence, and prospects will be willing to provide opt-in data, turning them into qualified business leads you can nurture.

Search engine optimisation

And don’t forget the Big G. Search engine optimisation is a natural - and crucial - part of online marketing. By consistently optimising all the content you’re producing to match the online demand for your product, you can boost your search engine rankings and drive more targeted (and more potentially profitable) traffic to your website.

And if you’re still spending a ton on pay-per-click, bear in mind that 70-80% of users ignore paid ads.

Online PR

Online ‘hubs’ are where people go to find information and get up to date with issues in their industry. This type of platform may be a website, a blog, a forum, an industry publication, or a community created through social media.  Whether in the form of online news releases, guest blog posts, discussions or polls, sharing content to appropriate platforms helps to drive the right awareness and traffic to your website.

Here’s one example of a marketing software provider sharing appropriate content with a trusted marketing blogger, who then went on to create his own content around it, giving the company access to his expert audience.

Lead nurturing and marketing automation

Did you know that only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales?

How do you keep your team from wasting time on the wrong ones?

Lead nurturing and marketing automation allow you to match your content with the specific stage your potential buyer is at, whether Awareness ( “It’s all new to me, but I’m interested”) Consideration (“This sounds like something pretty useful”) or Decision (“Now, I’m going to buy, but which provider do I choose?”)

Your website should deliver content tailored to the audience you have generated. Marketing automation uses visitor behaviour to allows you to deliver the right type of content to actively nurture visitors into leads and leads into customers.

Applying technology

To ensuring that inbound marketing works effectively and consistently, you need to make it a strategy that is both repeatable and transparent. You can achieve this by using technology platforms that actually allow you to see, in all your content, what people like most and what drives the highest number of leads and sales.

This technology also lets you view which channels are the most effective in bringing traffic to your website - and which traffic turns into leads and sales.

Don’t let lack of engagement and poor content management be detrimental to your business. The way to reap rewards from inbound marketing is to attract visitors with the good quality content and resources they’re looking for.

Sam Davies

Published 30 April, 2013 by Sam Davies

Sam Davies is a founder and director of Zoober Digital and a contributor to Econsultancy. 

6 more posts from this author

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