For years, marketers thought that the only way to get new customers was to grab them by the scruff of the neck, sit them in front of their advertising, and cajole them into buying their products. It was the era of the hard sell, putting bottoms on seats, and making advertising as loud and as memorable as possible.
But as time passed, some savvy marketers, especially those using internet-enabled channels, realised that customers didn’t really like this kind of advertising. With so much choice and so many other places to divert their attention, firms came to the shocking conclusion that they needed to be more respectful.
Out of this inbound marketing emerged. The primary goal of inbound marketing is to get customers to choose to interact with your firm because of their desire to get to know you better. It’s the opposite of the cold call. And it’s far more effective – you can find more information about it here. Inbound marketing guarantees that customer interactions with your company are happy events, not something in which either party feels under pressure to come to some sort of sale. The sales process is more natural.
As a small business owner, you’re probably wondering how to achieve this mystical kind of marketing. It seems like magic, but it isn't. Here’s what the pros do to convert with inbound marketing.
Create A eBook And Become An Expert
Companies that focus their efforts on inbound marketing know that it’s important to be seen as an authority in one’s field. They know that if customers perceive their company as having expert knowledge, then they’re much more likely to buy. Scott Bishop from Up and Social says that his company uses ebooks to establish itself as an authority. It’s particularly useful, he says, for helping customers avoid pain points – the inevitable part of the sales process where they worry that a product won’t fulfil all their needs. Because Bishop’s products are difficult to understand, he says that ebooks have been a life-saver, giving customers all the information they need.
There’s no need to stick to print, either. Bishop says that companies can often get far more leverage with audiobooks which allow customers to multitask.
Podcasts were one of the major triumphs of the early days of the internet, and they’re still going strong today. Akin Prakash who works at Aritic says that he uses podcasts to get his ideas in front of the many different audiences for his business. What’s great about podcasts is that they are easily shared, and so it doesn’t take long for many thousands of people to hear his company's message. His advice to businesses wanting to boost their inbound marketing efforts is to select podcasts which address their target audience and avoid more general podcasts. Look for podcasts with both subject matter and demographic alignment.
Be More Personalised
Blogs are an excellent tool for getting key points across to your customers, but they’re generic. Every person who visits the blog gets the same experience. Sawaram Suthar from Acquire says that his firm is trying to get around this by providing customers with a more personalised experience using new AI-enabled technologies. Chatbots, he says, are fast becoming the new norm on his company’s website, providing up-to-the-minute and relevant information instantly (when they work). Customers no longer have to scan through pages of documents to find what they need, they just ask a question and get an answer.
Though the technology is in its infancy, Suthar says that it is helping to draw customers in because they can get answers quickly. Again, chatbots help companies overcome customer pain points and convert more often.
Reflect Influencer Content
If you follow key, related influencers over time, you’ll soon come to see that their content evolves. Rather than remaining static, influencers are often the best people to use as a barometer of customer tastes and interests. They reflect what customers want.
Joe Robinson of Kazu says that businesses should marshal their content to reflect the priorities of key influencers. Why? He says that it’s because the new content will more closely reflect current interests. It’s a simple idea, but it works. Businesses can directly address current concerns in the marketplace and help customers overcome their worries or issues.
Organic Search Isn’t The Primary Channel
Google search gets a lot of press, and for a good reason: it’s the most popular way of interacting with the internet. But, according to VP Amber Kennis of Smartbug, it might not be the only way to generate inbound customers.
She says that inbound marketing is a more general term and shouldn’t be conflated with organic search. There are lots of ways to get customers to come to you, including posting helpful answers on Quora, networking (in physical reality with other humans), and putting articles in publications.
Remember, competition in organic search is fierce, but many of these other channels go underutilised.
Use Embed Codes
It’s worth pointing out that, thanks to sharing, your business doesn't have to do all its own marketing. Often your customers will do it for you, so long as you provide them with the tools to do so.
Greg Golinski says that companies need to provide embed codes alongside all their content to make it easier to share. He says that if their content is entertaining and funny, then they can leverage their customer based and get their ideas in front of many more people. Viral content can utterly transform a business.
Get Involved In Cross-Promotions
Often businesses complement each other. And, in these circumstances, there can be opportunities to cross-sell, according to Linda Cross, an author and speaker. For instance, when Sky advertises its TV services, it also promotes a lot of the content it broadcasts.
Cross says that when they combine their products into a single package, they can be a lot more appealing to customers. What’s more, your firm gets access to a bigger market, providing more opportunities to sell, often to customers who wouldn’t usually hear about your product.