“Some people have all the luck.”
This was a quote I heard from the CEO of a company the other day. He was still under the assumption that some people or businesses just get customers dropped into their lap because of luck. That there was no way his business could have such luck because they were followed around by “ a dark cloud.”
What he didn’t realize was that the other “lucky company” had simply positioned themselves to collect leads while they slept. They applied an inbound marketing strategy that used compelling content they produced to make themselves “lucky”.
We like to practice what we preach, and a couple of years ago we put out a blog post on Inbound vs. Outbound marketing tactics that were very popular and is still our top blog post to date. So we decided to circle back to that post and give you an updated 2016 version to see what has changed.
One thing that hasn’t changed is if you are running a business you want your customers and leads to come to you, and not the other way around. The best way to do this is still with an inbound marketing strategy.
Tactics are always changing. For example, content may have been king a few years ago, but now content may be queen. Why? Because without diverse quality content, you are not going to get very far with your inbound strategy in today’s content focused world. Below you will find out what has changed and what has stayed the same in the past couple years of inbound marketing.
For a refresher here is an explanation of Outbound and Inbound marketing.
Outbound marketing is a strategy in which a business advertises its products and services by presenting information to consumers even if they are not looking for those products or services. Because of this, outbound marketing has been commonly referred to as “interruptive marketing”. Companies do this via the use of television, print ads, direct mailers, radio and more. Think of the more traditional forms or even old school marketing tactics.
This is how traditional advertising worked, but unfortunately, such methods are not only interruptive and poorly timed, they can be quite expensive. If you are a small business owner, then you could be paying an arm and a leg for one of these forms of advertising without any promise of success or long-term value for your brand. Not only is it price inhibitive for the smaller companies, but the ROI (return on investment) is tough to track. However, larger companies that can afford such marketing or to cast a very wide net will benefit, as this strategy can help to bring a general awareness about one’s product and services to a national audience.
Inbound marketing is about using quality content to bring potential customers to you, rather than having to fight for their attention. Targeting a core audience by providing useful and engaging content to entice them into finding out more about your products or services. By creating content that is specifically designed for your core audience attracts more qualified prospects to your business and forms lasting relationships with them. They begin to see you as an authoritative voice or SME (subject matter expert) and it, in turn, builds your SERP (search engine results page).
What is involved in an inbound marketing strategy?
In 2016 inbound marketing is an essential component of your online marketing efforts. But if you are not instituting this strategy properly you could be leaving money on the table.
Search engine optimization is still a huge part of an effective inbound marketing strategy. What has changed is what Google is looking for with your SEO. To rank well on search, you will need to do more than throw keywords into a header and call it a day.
Keywords still matter, but with RankBrain, Google’s new search algorithm it has gotten a lot smarter, they use over 200+ ranking factors. So now it not only can bring results of your standard keyword match but also learns what user’s intents are for certain search queries. RankBrain matches common word usage of content on sites. For example, your site should have utilized common language that the biggest companies in your field use, so Google recognizes it in the field.
As always content has a huge part in your inbound strategy. Between the so-called “content shock” and Google’s algorithm for organic search and having relevant, engaging content is more important than ever. Content that attracts and retains customers by consistently creating and curating relevant content with a strong intention to influence the consumer of this content in some way. As you probably can understand, the content, at its core has to be interesting and relevant, which will boost its overall usefulness and the content ranking.
The content you produce is needed to drive your social media. And social media is still one of the best methods to promote that same content you worked so hard to create. It is a symbiotic relationship between content and social media platforms, as they both benefit each other. What is changing with social media is that organic reach is hitting all-time lows. It has officially become a pay-to-play atmosphere. This is driven by PPC (pay per click) and platforms like Facebook taking a very aggressive stance on maintaining general advertising in feeds.
Another challenge is there are more options than ever before in choosing which social media platform is right for your company. Do you stay with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or newer platforms like Music.ly? Even with current challenges facing businesses around social media, it remains one of the most valuable strategies to pursue.
Set a goal
You now know what makes up an inbound strategy, but are you implementing those pieces with intent? Setting a distinct goal for your inbound strategy is critical to your success. Maybe you simply want more leads to come in from your website. Or you are worried about the almighty bottom line and want to raise your ROI. One thing to remember is that these goals will change as your business grows.
Data is king, without it, you would be flying in the dark with your content. Measure everything so you’re making educated decisions about what is working and what you can improve on. Whether it’s blog posts, leads, or just general website traffic you can make better decisions with the correct data and adapt as needed. To be successful in inbound marketing, businesses need to introduce a disciplined approach to content creation, add marketing automation tools that can help them nurture and score leads, and optimize how these leads flow through the sales pipeline.
More and more companies are embracing the ideas and taking the steps to an inbound marketing strategy. In today’s business world you need to create an engaging customer experience. Not only an entertaining one but an experience that builds credibility and trust for your brand. With that, you will form lasting relationships with your customers.