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Marketing was once a simple transaction. A company could buy a marketing mix including direct mail, display ads and broadcast commercials, and generate a return in sales. But these types of messaging are easier to block out now that people have choices on when and where to consume content. Marketers must find a new way to earn the attention of their audience.
Inbound marketing is a foil to traditional paid advertising. Instead of interrupting potential customers, you use content to engage and entertain. The customers attracted are higher quality and you will reach them in all parts of the buying cycle. Even after a product is sold, these people become advocates and evangelists for your brand.
Inbound marketing starts with content. This can be videos, infographics, blog posts, customer reviews, Q&A and more. But not every piece of content needs to be built from scratch. Go back to information or data your company has on hand, and rework it into a short video with a simple tool like GoAnimate or use a curation tool like Pinterest to collect meaningful or interesting images that relate to your product offering.
The key in content is to build value that attracts customers to you organically.
Use the 80/20 rule with inbound marketing: product mentions should be limited to 20 percent (or less) of your strategic content suite. Keep in mind this content is an investment for your brand, not a way to get quick sells. The medium you choose can ensure your content engages — visual content is appealing by nature, and video’s sensory blend of visual and audio engenders emotion the best.
With inbound marketing, it’s even more important to know who your potential customers are, because you’re no longer tossing a wide net. Many brands use the persona approach. A persona is a fictional character created by a brand, but resembles a real person as much as possible. She has hobbies, habits, lives in a specific location and has a job title. You might develop a few personas, and visualize them and their use cases as you develop content — this will ensure the content remains targeted.
When you make a video, the persona is a more specific way to think about your viewer. Many viewers might enjoy your video, but the persona is the one who will comment on it, blog about it and share it with friends — so this is who you target with the video content. Content will also attract the people most in line with your brand offering, and they are your highest quality customers.
With inbound marketing, you can measure various parts of the buying cycle. Product reviews and e-books will be accessed by active buyers while newsletters can target existing customers who want to stay in touch. Blog and video content, optimized for search, will hit consumers in the very beginning of the buying cycle.
When interactions happen digitally, there’s a record and often qualitative data that can inform your strategy. The search terms someone used to find your web page, the number of views and shares on your video and comments or reviews are all great feedback.
The idea of using engaging and well-targeted content has proven to generate leads in businesses across the board — from Gary Vaynerchuk’s Wine Library to SEOmoz’s Social Success B2B campaign. At its core, inbound marketing allows your company to be secretly awesome and attract the best customers like a magnet — and turns these trendsetters into brand advocates along the way.