The change in media use has heralded a change in strategy in digital marketing . Put simply, the result is: inbound is in, outbound is out. We will show you why inbound marketing is becoming more and more relevant on the Internet and how you can establish a successful inbound marketing strategy in your company.
What is inbound marketing?
“The Internet is new territory for all of us” – this much-quoted and often ridiculed sentence by Angela Merkel is certainly worthy of discussion, but it hits a nerve when it comes to the marketing world. Of course, marketers have identified the web as a relevant marketing channel since the early 2000s at the latest. All too often, however, people still think in the tradition of classic channels such as radio, TV or print.
Banner advertising, pop-up windows or videos – traditional push marketing measures are increasingly ineffective on the Internet, are ignored by ad-resistant users, clicked away or even circumvented preventively using ad blocker software. Above all, there is a lack of awareness that not only has the media landscape fundamentally changed with the Internet, but also the customer and his behavior with it: Internet users are actively looking for information and do not want to be further disturbed by outbound marketing, but content get offered with added value. After all, marketers also have to adapt to these changed communication methods and user requirements.
Appearance: Inbound Marketing. The core of this approach is to support the user with helpful, relevant content in their search for information and to address them in every phase of their purchasing process. Your company should be found by customers – and not the other way around. Instead of cold calling, mass mailing or random advertisements, instead provide informative, advisory or entertaining content tailored to the needs of your ideal customers – primarily via blogs, search engines and social media. This is how you reach qualified, potential customers, create trust and secure a high ROI in the long term.
How must the process be designed?
The pivotal point in inbound marketing is the inbound methodology. It is based on four stages that occur when an unknown becomes an advocate for your company. Different marketing tools are available for each phase:
- Attracting (unknowns to visitors): blog, content strategy, social media
- Convert (visitors to leads): forms, meetings, messages (live chats), CRM
- Closing (leads to customers): pipeline management, lead nurturing, email marketing, automatic lead scoring
- Inspire (customers to promoters): Customer Hub, Smart Content, Conversations
Content marketing plays an important role in all phases of the inbound methodology, be it creating and distributing blog articles, emails or customer service. The last station of the inbound principle shows another special feature compared to classic push measures: the process does not end with the purchase. Instead, we rely on sustainably satisfied customers who, as promoters, recommend the company and in this way also contribute to your ROI.
10 tips to make your inbound marketing strategy a success
In order to establish an effective inbound marketing strategy in your company that will give you more customers and advocates in the long term, you should proceed systematically. Our ten tips should serve as step-by-step instructions.
1. Identify buyer personas
In order to be able to produce relevant content, you should first define who it should be aimed at. In doing so, it is important not just to carry out a classic target group analysis, but to create a profile of the prototypical buyer: the buyer persona. It includes demographics, behaviors and concerns that you can then tailor your content and marketing messages to address. The profile contains information about:
- expectations of the product
Ideally, you will receive information about your buyer personas from market research data or about your existing customers, for example through interviews or surveys. Depending on the company and product, you can create one or 20 buyer personas.
2. Set goals according to the SMART principle
At the beginning, set your long-term goals that you want to achieve with inbound marketing – in order to formulate goals that are as concrete as possible, you can use the SMART goal approach as a guide:
- Specific : what is expected, who is involved, where is it to be achieved, what are the constraints?
- Measurable : What criteria can be used to measure progress?
- A ttainable : Is the goal realistic, can the team meet expectations?
- R elevant: Is the goal relevant to the success of your company?
- On time: By when should the goal be achieved?
3. Create content with added value for the target group
The principle of inbound marketing is: the focus is on the customer, not your own product. You should take this into account when choosing a topic for your content. It’s not about staging your own product as prominently as possible, but about entertaining, informing and supporting potential customers – depending on their previously identified needs, problems and expectations.
Our tip: When planning and creating content, keep asking yourself: Does this content create added value for the specific buyer persona?
4. Adapt content to the buyer’s journey
Content marketing must pick up the user where he is in the decision-making process. Within the framework of the buyer’s journey, three stages can be distinguished in which different content offers make sense:
Awareness Stage: The user becomes aware of a problem or recognizes symptoms of a problem.
- Suitable content: e-books, white papers, editorial content
- Caution: Your own product should not be the focus here.
Consideration Stage: The user has identified the problem and is looking for a concrete solution
- Appropriate content: podcasts, videos, expert guides
Decision Stage: The user makes the decision for a solution
- Suitable content: product comparisons, case studies, free trials
- Caution: Only at this point should the focus be placed on your own product
5. Determine a concrete strategy for implementation
Instead of haphazardly producing content for different buyer personas at different stages of their buyer’s journey , you should define a clearly actionable strategy :
- Which content elements should be bet on?
- Which channels should be played?
- In what order and frequency should the articles be published?
- Who does what when?
You should then combine your content planning in an editorial plan so that all employees involved can see when which post was created and published by whom and for which buyer persona in which stage it was created. This is the only way to reliably implement an inbound strategy in the long term.
6. Multi-channel promotion and seeding
In order for the unknown user to become aware of the company at all, the seeding of content via various channels is crucial, such as via your own blog, your own social media channels or via email marketing. Through regular publications on your owned media (e.g. blog) and earned media channels (e.g. shared social media posts), you build up long-term organic reach and visibility in search engines. Paid media measures (e.g. promoted posts on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter) ensure short-term gains in reach.
7. Select channels that match the content and buyer persona
Choose the social media platform you want to share your content on by buyer persona: Where is my buyer persona headed? Example: On Facebook or Snapchat you are more likely to reach young people, while XING and LinkedIn are also used by older age groups and especially in a business context.
You also have to consider the type of content to be played: e.g. B. Instagram is more suitable for visual content, Twitter only for very short posts, but the integration of videos is possible.
8. Establish the landing page as the focal point
In the case of inbound marketing, all roads lead to a landing page. Here, a visitor to the page is converted into a lead. A landing page is a website on which a visitor’s data is recorded using a lead form – in return, the user receives an e-book, a case study, a webinar or another exclusive content offer.
The page should be kept simple, because the goal is conversion. Therefore, do without navigation, different calls-to-action or other elements that could distract your visitor. Instead, a landing page should answer the following questions:
- What exactly is offered?
- What are the advantages of the offer?
- Why is the offer relevant to the visitor?
- How does the visitor get the offer?
Once you’ve captured your visitor’s contact details, the lead is in the next phase of the inbound methodology. Now you can convince the lead via lead nurturing or e-mail marketing with tailor-made content and convert it to a customer.
9. Collect and evaluate relevant data
An advantage of digital marketing and big data: Almost everything can be measured, compared and evaluated. Various marketing automation tools enable the collection of data that can provide insight into how your content is performing:
- Who has seen, liked, commented on which post and how often?
- How often was a video clicked and how long was it watched?
- How many times was a specific email opened and clicked on?
- What gender, age group, geographic region is most engaging with my content?
The danger, however, is that in view of the flood of data, the numbers are often not evaluated correctly or arbitrarily set in relation to one another, leading to incorrect conclusions being drawn. Therefore, always refer to your previously defined goals and examine the key figures that are relevant with regard to the goal setting and allow conclusions to be drawn about the progress of the measures.
10. Optimize and reuse
After production, distribution and performance analysis, the decisive step is still to be taken: optimization. Maybe a low number of clicks on a blog article can be increased with a more attractive cover photo? Could the subject of an email be made even more appropriate to increase the open rate? The users themselves may also provide constructive suggestions for improvement in their comments. Never see your individual pieces of content as finished works, rather use your findings from the analysis to make optimizations and to constantly better align your existing and future content with the addressed users.
Our tip: Once published, your content does not lose its value. An existing blog article can be promoted again via social media after a few months or e.g. B. serve as a template for a podcast.
Inbound marketing has become indispensable in modern digital marketing. Because classic push measures on the Internet are increasingly failing to hit users, companies can only build successful customer relationships if they create content that is highly relevant to the user. This can also be proven statistically: The amount of advertisements that a person is confronted with every day increased by 150 percent between 1984 and 2014, and the trend is rising . As a result, individual ads are no longer consciously perceived or actively prevented. The spread of adblockers increased by 30 percent between 2016 and 2017 alone. When in doubt, advertisements are no longer seen at all. In contrast, 60 percent of users research a product after consuming content about it. Content marketing generates three times as many leads per dollar spent as traditional marketing. This confirms the change of perspective that is being made in inbound marketing and that is: A shift away from the product and towards the interests of the user.