If you’re in the process of making the transition to use inbound marketing tactics rather than outbound marketing tactics, that’s fantastic. I think, longterm, you’re going to be happier with the investment of your time and resources.
But how do you actually make inbound useful for your business?
First it’s important to understand this really key aspect: Inbound marketing takes time. There is no such thing as meaningful overnight success. If you’re not willing to put in the work, you’re not going to get the success you’re looking for. While writing blogs or newsletters might seem like a waste of time initially, in the long run it can provide much more organic success for your business.
What are Inbound Marketing tactics?
In case you’ve forgotten, here are some of the most common inbound marketing tactics:
- Email newsletters
- Free downloads
- Free training
- Video courses
- Question & Answers
- Search Engine Optimization
Now that we know what some inbound marketing tactics are, why should we use them?
Inbound Must Provide Value
All of these tactics add value to ours customer’s lives. We’re teaching them more about our industry. We’re pulling back the curtain of our business. We’re letting them see more of what we do and how we do it. And in the process, we’re building up our must underrated marketing tool at the same time!
What’s beneficial about that?
Inadvertently, our future-customers gain trust in us by engaging with our inbound tactics.
This is the first step towards creating meaningful, organic sales that are likely to create brand-ambassadors out of our customers.
Shifting our Focus
Our intention–as marketers of our own business–needs to shift from “making a quick sale right now” to “setting myself up for longterm success”. Again, like I said earlier, this isn’t for the people unwilling to invest the time and resources into doing inbound properly.
We need to stop being sleazy businesspeople that seem only invested into a customer relationship the amount they can spend on us. We’ve got to build their trust and prove our value in our niche before we can ask them for a sale with any success.
Quick sidebar: I wrote an article about how Instagram Stories are a fantastic way to build trust with your audience if you haven’t had the chance to read it yet.
Capturing More Leads
Previously we might’ve discarded our care for potential customers we determined weren’t ready to buy our product yet. If someone walked into our store, liked what they saw, but it was out of their budget, it’s important not to metaphorically throw that person by the wayside. You don’t know when that person will come back, or refer you other business, down the road.
Most customers that find your business are not yet ready to part with their money.
First, they need to subconsciously conclude that we’re experts at what we do and a company that cares about them. That’s what’s going to keep them engaged before they decide to spend money on your business.
And let me pause right here and make this abundantly clear: It’s not enough to pretend to care about our customers. You have to actually care! I am not advocating for the crappy money-money-money mentality that many massive corporations have nowadays. If you don’t care about your customers, then chances are you wouldn’t be reading this anyways! So that’s good.
How do I Increase My Leads?
Now that we understand the philosophy behind all of it, how does it actually work?
Start a blog. It’s one of the biggest things I think you can do for your business. Take the time to do a bit of research on good blog practices and implement them! Search Engine Optimization isn’t the enemy and isn’t impossible to make your friend. Again, you just need to be willing to put in the time.
If you’re going the blog route (or any inbound route, really), you want to make sure you’re creating content about what your audience cares to see.
Here are some ideas for blog / eBook / video course content:
- What common questions about my business / industry do my customers have?
- What common questions about my product do my customers have?
- What is a misconception about my business / industry I could clear up?
- What other common questions, beyond my business’ products, do my clients all seem to have that I can answer?
- What is something I wish more people understood about what I do?
- What kind of how-to could I teach my customers?
- What are questions people have about my product after purchasing it?
A fantastic resource to determine what people in your area are searching Google for is a website called Answer the Public. It seems like they have a paid option now, but the free one should still be able to give you a pretty big leg up on understanding what people are actively looking for.
The Extra Mile
Blogging, writing eBooks, making courses, are not enough on their own. Make an effort to share these resources you’re creating with as many people as possible. Specifically share it with people that you know could benefit from it. Don’t just blast your personal Facebook profile with links to your business if you don’t want to run the risk of alienating people.
Reach out to industry leaders and ask if you can write a guest post on their blog. Find industry publications and ask about what it takes to become a contributor. Get in touch with someone who is running a local conference and see if you can give a small talk on a particular topic.
All of these things involve work, but they significantly increase your business’ organic reach; attracting the type of people who may one day buy your product.
The Longterm Benefits
Let’s say you own an independent women’s shoe store and you spend an average of $100 a month on Google Adwords. Basically, when someone searches for words that are similar to what your business offers (like “shoes”, “women”, “(city)”, and so on), you appear near the top of the page as a “sponsored” post.
That’s an average spend of $1200 annually on ads. As soon as you stop spending that money, you don’t appear at the top anymore. Again, pay-to-play.
But with inbound tactics like blogging and adding a ton of valuable resources to your website, Google will see that your website is good, that people visit it frequently, and it’ll gradually, organically, bump your position up in the Google search results, much closer to the top.
Longterm, this means you don’t have to spend money to appear at the top anymore. You’ve earned it through hard work and giving your customers something they can’t get elsewhere.
This is the power of inbound.