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Before the evolution of the World Wide Web, businesses operated in a bit different way. When attracting new customers, they focused on cold calling or even popping by their prospective customers’ homes unannounced.
Then the internet came and changed marketing and sales forever. It has given us the opportunity to connect with customers on a more personal level through social networks, email marketing, chatbots, and so forth. Businesses can now deliver value to their target audiences at every stage of their journey.
This is where inbound marketing shines.
What is inbound marketing and how does it work? Let’s find out!
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is the process of attracting new customers and building relationships with them by offering helpful tips, education, and value. Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing is not interruptive. It relies on content marketing, but it also includes a plethora of other digital marketing practices, such as web design, search engine optimization, content marketing, etc.
A perfect example of how inbound marketing works are chatbots. Namely, when a visitor lands on your site, a chatbot starts a conversation. Its goal is to engage a customer and start building a relationship with them. It asks personalized questions to learn more about a customer and solve their problems effectively. When offered such relevant customer support, a customer is more likely to return to your website and purchase from you.
Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing
For starters, it is important to understand how marketing worked before the rise of the internet and after it. The internet has made marketing more customer-centric, motivating businesses to listen to customers, adapt to their needs, and educate them continuously.
Both inbound marketing and outbound marketing have advantages and disadvantages. For example, inbound marketing is more affordable, it delivers value to customers, and builds relationships with them. On the other hand, it requires significant time investments and is getting highly competitive. Outbound marketing focuses on increasing sales and gaining faster results, but it does not help you build meaningful relationships with your prospective customers.
No matter if you invest in outbound marketing or not, inbound marketing should be the central part of your marketing efforts. It gives you an amazing opportunity to position yourself as an industry leader and build a strong, customer-oriented brand. Above all, when investing in inbound marketing, you let customers find you through your online channels instead of spamming them and fighting for their attention.
Proven Inbound Marketing Examples that Deliver Results
According to HubSpot’s comprehensive study, leads generated from inbound marketing cost 62% less than the costs of outbound marketing. The same study claims that inbound marketing generates revenue more effectively. A company’s blog, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are powerful customer acquisition channels.
Now that you know what inbound marketing is and how it is different from outbound marketing, let’s look at a few super-effective inbound marketing examples.
1. Create a Content Marketing Strategy
Content marketing makes inbound marketing more relevant and valuable. And, to get the most out of it, you first need to build a solid content marketing strategy. There are many factors you need to address when planning your content strategy. For starters, answer the following questions:
- What content formats do my customers respond to?
- What social media platforms do they use?
- How much unique content should I produce weekly/monthly?
Your content marketing strategy is all about quality and relevance. Create magnetic content that grabs your prospective customers’ attention, entices them to click on your blog, brings value, and inspires them to visit you again and again.
2. Segment your Target Audience
Email marketing is a fundamental aspect of your inbound marketing strategy. However, remember that sending a uniform, generic email is not relevant to your audiences. To maximize your open rates and conversion rates, you first need to make your emails more personal. This is where email marketing segmentation shines.
There are many ways to segment your email newsletter list. For example, you could segment users by their geographic area just like Uber. Or, you could focus on their previous purchases and the amount they spent on your website. For instance, many fashion brands segment their customers into exclusive shoppers, brand shoppers, and sales shoppers.
By creating targeted emails, you will be able to connect with your target audiences on a more personal level, provide them with more relevant content, and get them to buy from you faster.
3. Diversify your Content
Not all content formats resonate with your audiences. While some people enjoy reading long-form guides and articles, others prefer visual or audio content. To appeal to different audiences and bring value in each phase of their buyer journey, you should diversify your content.
Both digital marketers and online users love video content for a simple reason – it is highly engaging, interactive, and personalized. Stats say that 99% of marketers that are already using videos will continue to do so in 2020.
There are several types of content you could create.
- Repurposed content: Turn your guides and ebooks into engaging webinars or create helpful two-minute how-to videos.
- Thought leadership videos that showcase your industry credibility. This is what Moz has been doing with their “Whiteboard Friday” educational video series.
- Culture videos inform your customers and prospective employees about your company culture, visions, and mission.
- Demo videos are perfect for showing your product in use.
- Educational videos explain what your product does and how it works.
- Emotional videos that humanize your brand and build meaningful relationships with your target audiences. For example, Dove’s #ChooseBeautiful campaign empowers women to appreciate themselves more.
- Testimonial videos are a great way to evoke FOMO and show the human side of your brand by showing what your customers think of you.
Research says that infographics are liked, shared, and retweeted 3 times more than any other content type. They let you present lots of complex data in a visually appealing and easy-to-digest way. By promoting them properly online, this is a great way to earn loads of organic shares and backlinks.
Sure, you first need to choose the right infographic type. Statistical infographics let you visualize complex data and statistic results. Informational infographics provide users with straightforward tips and information. Timeline infographics are ideal for brands wanting to show the history of their business, industry, or product.
No matter what kind of infographics resonate with your audiences the best, always make sure their design is unique and visually appealing. Keep the sentences short and balance textual and visual elements.
This is also an opportunity to brand your content. For example, you could use your brand’s recognizable design elements (colors, fonts, etc.) and your logo. Content marketing Institute places their logo at the bottom of each infographic they create.
When you are thinking about purchasing a product, what do you do first? You probably ask your friends whether they have tried it or you read online ratings and reviews. Research says that 9 out of 10 people search for product reviews online before making a shopping decision. As they don’t know a lot about you, they rely on the opinions of other people. Apart from encouraging customer testimonials and reviews, you should also write detailed case studies.
Case studies position you as a trustworthy business and gain customers’ trust. They are data-backed pieces of content that serve as proof that you are offering good quality and reliability. They explain the purpose of your brand and products, showing the problems your customers faced and how they solved them by investing in your products and services. Case studies should include relevant data and statistics, as well as customer testimonials to back your statements up.
The Four Dots digital agency recently published a detailed product case study on how they used advanced tracking, analytics, and reporting techniques for their SaaS product. This is a typical example of a case study. It first provides brief information about their agency and their client reporting tool. Second, they explained what their major tracking and analytics challenges were. In the third section, the case study explains the company’s tracking and analytics goals. Next, they explain the approach they tool when setting their KPIs and deliverables. Finally, they provide campaign results and concluding findings. To make the case study easier to digest, they broke the text up into smaller paragraphs, used clear and informative headings and subheadings, and inserted engaging images to visualize the most important data.
While some users would gladly read your lengthy blog post, others would rather listen to it. People consume podcasts because they are practical. They can use them on their mobile devices, irrespective of their location. Given that, it is not surprising at all that half of the population has already listened to a podcast.
Much like video content, a podcast lets you repurpose your hottest articles, guides, case studies and turn them into an interesting podcast episode. You could also grow your authority by inviting a great guest – an authoritative person in your niche. When the podcast episode is live, they would gladly share it with their audiences, expanding your brand exposure and driving lots of organic traffic, shares, and backlinks.
A whitepaper is an in-depth, data-backed educational content piece. It could explain the major industry trends or inform your prospective customers about your products, its features, uses, and so forth. When downloading a whitepaper, users expect it to be original, highly informative, and backed up by relevant statistics and research. Similar to case studies, a whitepaper needs to be broken up into logical sections, with informative headings and subheadings and data visualizations, like graphs or charts. Above all, it should look good. When it comes to large content pieces, their design is half the battle.
The best thing about whitepapers is that they target your prospective customers – people that are interested in your products and qualify for them. Precisely because of that, you could use them as a solid lead magnet. For example, you could let them download a whitepaper in PDF in exchange for their email address. Once a customer signs up for your email list, use this as an opportunity to start relevant conversations and turn them into paying customers.
3. Humanize Conversations with Chatbots
Today’s customers are tech-savvy and they expect brands to be available 24/7. But, what happens when your customer support representatives clock off? If customers don’t get feedback from you fast, they will leave your site without making a purchase.
When investing in chatbots, you ensure your customers can get answers to relevant questions faster. Chatbots will guide them towards relevant content and inspire them to convert faster. Therefore, you should always ensure that your chatbots are highly interactive, friendly, and efficient at solving customers’ problems.
Sephora is a perfect example of how effective chatbots can be. Their Messenger bot asks users relevant questions and, based on their answers, points them to the right products. It also lets users upload photos and try out different makeup products to find the ones that meet their needs the best. Through conversational, friendly scripts, a chatbot personalizes user conversations, turns visitors into leads, and inspires them to purchase faster.
4. Improve your Social Media Presence
Social media marketing goes far beyond distributing your content. It gives you an opportunity to increase your exposure, humanize your brand, and build a solid online community. You need to engage your users with high-quality content.
For starters, optimize your content creation and sharing practices. Apart from promoting your website content, you should also create content specifically designed for social networks. For example, these could be quizzes, polls, memes, GIFs, and so forth. Additionally, consider curating content from other relevant sites in your niche. One of the most effective ways to do so is using social media management tools like Buffer or Hootsuite. With them, you can schedule social content sharing and automate these processes.
Use social networks to build relationships. For example, you could use social media monitoring tools to track your brand and product mentions and collect user feedback. You could also create social media polls or surveys to collect customer feedback. Collecting direct customer feedback, you can act on it faster and prove you care about users’ experiences.
5. Track Results
There is no one-size-fits-all tactic to implement when investing in digital marketing. Use website analytics tools like Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMrush, etc. to understand how your website performs. With the right digital marketing reporting tool, you can centralize different tools and their features under a single dashboard and gain better insights into your performance.
This way, you can make more data-oriented decisions. For example, by knowing what content attracts the highest traffic, but doesn’t engage users, what content converts, or what content has the highest time on page, you will know what topics and types of content resonate with your target audience the best.
You could also use scroll maps or heat maps to understand how people interact with your website, where they click, or how far they go while scrolling down your page. This is an effective way to understand the major issues in your UX design and content creation so you can fix them faster.
Over to You
In 2020 and beyond, digital marketing is getting more customer-centric. To set yourself apart, you need to listen to your customers and use their insights to provide highly personalized, relevant, and authentic content and offers. Your goal is to convert them into paying customers, build personal relationships with them, and inspire their brand loyalty. This is the main idea behind inbound marketing. And, with the inbound marketing examples and tips provided above, you will be able to build a solid inbound strategy that keeps your customers happy and retains them.
How do you use inbound marketing to maximize conversions?