Inbound marketing starts with attracting people. In the introduction to our inbound marketing series, we went through some basics, and examined how it came to be so popular. Now the real work starts. You need to bring people to you.
In the past, marketing focused on gaining attention through interruptive advertising. A lot of inbound marketing’s appeal is that it takes a different approach to increasing visibility and attracting new customers. But what does that entail, exactly?
First, You Need to Know Who You Are
It’s difficult to attract the right people if you don’t have a coherent and clear image of your own organisation. You need to ask some questions. Who are we? Who would we like to be? What do we have to offer that sets us apart?
Canvas the people who work for you, your collaborators, and existing customers. You need a crystal-clear picture of how you’re viewed, what people liked, and what they didn’t. This will give you an idea of how public perception differs from that ideal self-image.
Putting down organisational values in specificity can go a long way to creating a unified and cohesive public face. If you skip this or do a bad job, you won’t be able to influence how your customers see you with any measure of conviction.
Get to Know Your People
You’ve taken a look in the mirror, now start looking at your customers.
Who are you interacting with? What are their values, what do they want from you, and what more might they need? You need to understand your current customer base and why they came to you in the first place.
Create marketing personas. Use the information you have on existing customers combined with research on untapped audiences. This will help in visualising who you will be reaching out to and how to go about it.
When a company with an inbound method connects with customers, it’s supposed to offer real value to them. That’s impossible without a decent idea of what they want.
The Pull of High-Quality Content
Instead of the forced exposure of advertising, inbound tells us to invest in high-quality content. By publishing engaging content in the right places, an inbound approach will offer a unique kind of access to new people.
Offering real value and being genuinely helpful will draw people to you. Providing that help without bluntly pushing a sale is supposed to establish a relationship of trust. It’s like extending a customer-service mindset to people who aren’t your customers yet. And when these people need products or services, they will go to the helpful, trustworthy option.
Your website is the ideal place to start. You can use it to host blogs, videos, podcasts – even books. They can offer helpful answers to common queries, or share interesting information, news, and trends.
Content can take a lot of forms, and variety is a good thing – as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of quality. Whatever form content takes, the priority is quality. High-quality content establishes the expectation for high-quality service and products.
Visibility is your next challenge; making sure people notice you.
One of the keys to this is search engine optimisation. SEO is the ever-evolving process of using search engines to your advantage. Staying on top of search engines can put your organisation in a better position to be found by those looking for your expertise. It is complex and requires constant effort, but it’s worth the investment. It gives access to a group of people who are among the most likely to become customers.
A presence on social platforms offers people access as well. But a social media presence isn’t just visibility, it’s content in and of itself. It needs to be dynamic, it needs to be interesting, it needs to have personality. The work you’ve put into defining organisational culture should help in putting that into action.
Doing well in social media means making connections with potential customers and having an audience for your content. It can also lead to connecting with established experts and influential people in or related to your field.
And here’s a superb tip: one of the best ways to reach people is by leveraging your content and expertise. Don’t shy away from guest blogs, attend relevant events, and try to feature in panel discussions, radio shows or even on television. Linking up with those who are already in a position of expertise will only increase your stature. If you can prove your worth to their audiences, you’ll rapidly grow your own.
Moving to engagement
Visibility is where engagement starts. By being responsive through your channels, you’ve taken the first step in winning inbound customers. You’re already engaging, even if you didn’t know it yet.
Our next blog will detail the key aspects of inbound engagement. We’ll move toward how to turn engagement into customers, and what you need to know to continue the transformation to inbound.