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The Beginning of Your Inbound Marketing Journey

In our last inbound marketing article, we gave you an overview of what inbound marketing means, including briefly exploring the four stages of your marketing-buyer lifecycle. With this, you learnt how an effective inbound strategy can convert absolute strangers into promoters.

But now we’re going to delve even further into this topic over the next few weeks. With our inbound series, you’ll be able to take away practical advice and then apply this to your business.

But in case you aren’t sure – what is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is a holistic, data-driven approach to marketing that attracts individuals to your brand and converts them into lasting customers” – HubSpot

Marketing: Then vs. Now

img source/SkyRocket Group

Marketing has moved away from traditional forms. Cold calling, spam emails and interruptive advertising were some of the many tactics dominating the marketplace. But in turn, they completely dominated our audience’s lives.

Inundated with market-led messages, our audience’s attitudes and preferences have now shifted. No longer are people happy with their day-to-day lives filled with heavy selling. Instead, readers want useful content that helps them.

Traditional marketing used to be one of the most heavily adopted methods by businesses. It was the only form of marketing for a time.

Direct mail, print and TV advertising were the most common ways for brands to connect with their audiences. But after an age of massive selling, businesses and audiences realise that these methods aren’t effective any longer.

In 2014, HubSpot found that:

  • 86% of audiences skip TV ads

  • 91% unsubscribe from emails

  • 44% of direct mail isn’t opened

  • 200M of people are on the Don’t Call List

This offensive set of statistics shows us how modern audiences are actively avoiding market-led connections. And as younger audiences grow, as well as digital capabilities continually evolving – this means marketers need to adapt themselves to changing preferences.

Overview of marketing lifecycle

Well first, let’s run through a brief outline of the marketing lifecycle. We explained this in our previous article, but if you happened to miss it – this is HubSpot’s Inbound Methodology:

img source/HubSpot

Broken down, there are four stages in the marketing lifecycle.

Simply put, the journey follows:

You attract strangers by using blogs, keyword targeting and social publishing. You then convert your visitors by using forms, CTAs and personalised landing pages, to turn these into leads. But then to close the deal, you use CRM, email and workflows to change your leads into customers. But to delight these customers, you use surveys, smart content and social monitoring to convert these to promoters.

Instead of pushing out marketing tactics and praying leads come to you, this cycle shows the journey that brands need to take to draw their customers in – towards their brand. So now, you’ve got an idea of what it’s going to take to boost your business. You can see the starting point and the end goal.

But what do you need to have in place to begin this journey?

Solid research!

There’s no way you’ll be able to deliver a successful inbound strategy without first analysing both your organisation; it’s outputs, as well as your audiences and competitors.

Now most people refer to audiences as ‘buyers’ but personally, I find this title limiting. Not everyone that interacts with your brand are going to be buyers and some may never end up being. But with inbound, you’re still there to help them out and provide useful content.

Obviously in an ideal world, everyone would buy from your company and there wouldn’t be a single person opposed to your products or services. But as time goes on, the number of choices available to audiences is rising. And that means audiences have got the option to choose exactly what they want; when they want it and who from.

So how do you combat getting lost in a sea of competition?

First, you define what exactly your business does. Conduct a business survey and analyse not just what your offerings are, but how you communicate these. Why do you offer what you do? Is there something about your business which stands out from your competitors? Do you communicate with your audiences differently?

In a previous article, we discussed how to define your brand’s ‘Value Proposition’. This is one of the essential steps in any inbound marketing strategy. Why?

Because how can you sell to people if you don’t understand the value that you’re proposing to your audiences.

Create audience personas

img source/Liquid Agency

To deliver an effective inbound strategy, you need to be able to segment this, and personalise each of your outputs for each of your desired audience groups. The more you can separate out each audience group, the easier you’ll find it to alter your communications so each group feels as if they’re being targeted individually.

Ideally, you’ll have 3-4 audience personas.

Get to understand their pain and pressure points. Know what makes them tick, laugh, excitable! How do they lead their day-to-day lives? Don’t just be aware of their background information: demographics, job role, seniority, etc. But also get to know how they feel about the factors that play a role in their lives.

The more you can drill-down your persona’s – the clearer your communications will be.

For example, if work in an agency, the way you’re going to speak to potential students looking for internships and first jobs is going to be entirely different to how you talk to your top-tier clients.

Your personas need to be as personable as possible – your audiences are real, so, therefore, your personas need to reflect this. In each persona include:

  • Demographics

  • Job Level and Seniority

  • What their typical day is like

  • Pain points, Issues and Triggers

  • Information Sources

  • And any objections they may have to your business

You can see below an example of audience persona’s, however much information you choose to include is entirely your own decision. It depends on how much of this information will support your inbound marketing campaign.

img source/Kissmetrics

And once you’ve mapped out your audience groups, the next step is to audit your content. But this is something we’ll explore in the coming weeks – drilling down how to audit your previous content and understand how to link this with your audience personas.

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