Inbound Marketing : The Basics
If you’re thinking about starting an inbound marketing campaign, there’s some things you really should know…
1. You’re going to be involved.
There’s no way around it – inbound marketing means taking a hands-on approach to your marketing efforts. That doesn’t mean you’ll be doing all of the work, but inbound is not a “we’ll just contract it out and forget it” kind of deal. Much of your involvement will be upfront as your inbound marketing agency works with you to:
Learn about your product/service, company history, value proposition, etc.
Define goals and set benchmarks
Review your existing marketing strategy
Develop customer personas and map out the buying cycle
Set the budget
Create a content schedule and editorial calendar
Evaluate and strategize for your social channels
… among other things. While the agency will do everything they can to make your job as fast and easy as possible, expect to be involved in the process.
2. You’ll question your branding.
One outcome of stepping into inbound marketing is that you’re forced to take a hard look at your branding and whether or not it’s working. Inbound marketing necessitates evaluating your brand’s image, voice, tone and approach to reaching your customers. The feedback that comes through addressing your customers directly can often reveal insights you never would have seen otherwise – and the result is a stronger, more tuned-in brand.
3. Results won’t come instantly.
The sometimes frustrating fact of inbound marketing is that all the hard work you put in at the outset can take 6 – 12 months before showing just how worth your while it’s been. It takes time to build an audience, create content, optimize your website and gather enough data to improve your conversion rates. More importantly, though, being a part of a discussion with your customers is an organic process that by very nature takes time as you build up your rapport.
The results will come – but a little patience in the outset, coupled with realistic expectations, will keep you from feeling frustrated during those spin-up months.
4. You‘re going to have to talk to customers.
Conversations are at the heart of inbound marketing. Getting to know your customers is going to be an integral part of the process.
You’re going to need to reciprocate if you want your marketing to work! That means talking to customers in blog comments and responding to messages on social media. As you work to develop and refine your personas, you might interview customers and conduct surveys. Your sales team is going to be wading through your customers’ pain points and probing for questions they can answer.
And that’s a good thing.
5. Your website is going to change – for the better.
If you’re really attached to your existing content, landing pages, advertisements and calls to action, it might be time to start preparing yourself for change. For inbound marketing to work, all the different pieces need to be moving together. Your site will need to be optimized for search – which may mean adding content, removing content or just changing what’s there. Your pages will be studied and tweaked to improve conversions, changing layouts, formats, messaging, colors, calls to action and more.
One thing’s for sure – the way your website looks at this very moment is not the way it will look even a few months from now. Don’t resist it; you’re going to love the outcome of the change, even if change is turbulent at the time.
6. You’ll learn to love creatives.
Creative teams have been undervalued for a long time. Inbound marketing is their time to shine. Talented content creators like copywriters and designers can be worth their weight in gold. And because there’s so much noise to try and break through online, you’ll quickly come to value the skills of the creatives helping to take your message to the masses.
7. You might get addicted to analytics.
Unlike other marketing formats like billboards and mailers, inbound marketing allows you to watch your metrics and mind the numbers in real time. The ability to quickly and easily determine what’s working, what’s not and evaluate the impact of changes can be a new experience for business owners who have been used to getting nothing but quarterly reports. You just might catch yourself watching the traffic pour in on your analytics. It’s alright – indulge for awhile – and then get back to doing the things that made those numbers skyrocket in the first place!
8. Your sales team might increase.
One of the most unexpected and delightful surprises for businesses who take on inbound marketing is a need to increase their sales team capacity. With more (and better qualified) leads coming in the door, your business’ infrastructure is going to need to be able to accommodate the influx in customers. It’s often we see clients needing to amp up their sales force when the campaign really starts humming.
Expect great things!
Inbound marketing can quite literally change the way you think about not only marketing, but your business as a whole. Yes, it takes a lot of effort. Yes, it requires patience, a willingness to connect and a mindset towards giving your customers what they want instead of just trying to take what you want from them.