Managing a successful business, especially during times of economic uncertainty or a recession, is challenging at best. In searching for ways to make your business more resilient, have a look at the following tips to get ready for tough times, e.g., when large budgets for advertising and outreaches aren't as available anymore. Can Inbound Marketing solutions accomplish that?
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound Marketing, according to HubSpot, is defined as a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, Inbound Marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have.
Inbound Marketing can include the following marketing tactics and methods:
Blogs: Leveraging your blog is an excellent example of how Inbound Marketing can be used. A website's blog with various subscription options is useful to keep loyal visitors and customers informed of updates and news without bombarding strangers with new advertisements or undesired outreaches.
Content marketing: The use of well-written copy or video or podcast materials goes a long way, especially when it comes to establishing awareness and building a business or brand. The right content, personalized and relevant, can help others view your business as reputable and as a place of authority, which can, in turn, help to generate additional leads and/or sales in the future. Consider the best combinations of text, audio, and video for your targeted audience
eBook/audiobook/downloadable materials: Sharing and/or selling an eBook, audiobook, case study, or relevant report you have created for your audience is a well-known element of Inbound Marketing. Providing additional value to your website visitors works well with an audience who is already aware of the topic and is curious to learn more.
Email marketing: Using email marketing or a customized, personalized newsletter is another way to support and engage your online following. Newsletters and informative notifications, sent to users when they want them, at their pace, are a great platform for those who are interested in learning more about a service or product.
Infographics: The use of visual aids and supporting elements is essential when it comes to engaging your visitors and customers. Infographics can help to catch the eye of prospective customers while also keeping core issues, solutions, and relevant topics in front of your audience.
SEO: Search engine optimization is a core element to increase the relevancy of your content for an audience who already has a genuine and vested interest in your space, issues and solutions you are offering. Getting your content targeted and relevant to your target audience is a critical element in growing your organic search traffic.
Social media marketing (SMM): (Organic) Social media marketing, in addition to SEO, is one of the Inbound Marketing channels to give visibility to your content elements. Growing your social media audience helps to establish social proof and drive visitors to your website, especially helpful in the early stages of content generation, i.e., when organic search traffic is still low.
Webinar/podcast: Hosting webinars and/or podcasts is an excellent way to attract new visitors while implementing other Inbound Marketing techniques. Using a webinar and/or podcast helps to establish your professional personas and authority; it is a great way to establish a long-time loyal following and also attract website visitors who are interested in learning more.
White papers: Sharing white papers on your website lends credibility to your business, a critical element of building trust. White papers are also useful tools for announcing new product or service features, updates, reports, or trends relevant to your readers.
Read more about Inbound Marketing and how you can use it to establish and grow your business, increase your long-term marketing ROI, and sustain traction throughout economic challenges.
How Inbound Marketing Differs From Other Marketing Approaches
Simply put, Inbound Marketing is like saving for retirement: building for the future while surviving the present. Outbound marketing, on the other hand, pushes your products and services, hoping that you might find a suitable prospect quickly, without establishing a lasting foundation for your business. If you stop paying for your PPC ads, your visitor stream stops.
When it comes to Inbound Marketing, it can be simplified as follows: Stop selling; start being helpful to your prospects.
Essentially, being inbound is about attraction, looking to create pull, while outbound marketing is often referred to as "push" marketing, requiring the pushing of a message to an entirely new audience and is looking to nudge, albeit often close to harass, a desired audience over the finish/buying line. But who wants to be marketed or sold to anymore?
With Inbound Marketing, using relevant pieces of content, planning a podcast around your visitor's wants, and even engaging with social media platforms are all acceptable techniques. Adding value to users who already have an interest in your business or visitors who need your product is what being inbound is all about.
How Inbound Marketing is Different From Content Marketing
Although content marketing can and should be a part of Inbound Marketing, it is not as extensive or as complex as Inbound Marketing, it is a subcomponent.
Content marketing and the generation of appealing, engaging and relevant content for your target audience and buyer persona requires keeping up with the latest trends in your industry and markets at the time. As a provider of solutions for the issues of your buyer persona, shouldn't you understand the potentially evolving challenges of those individuals? Of course, you should.
In addition to defining a buyer-persona-targeting content marketing strategy in line with your business objectives, you will need a targeted publication schedule and a consistent calendar, along with the ability to interpret and use collected data for future publications and pieces of content you create. Which pieces and formats of content resonate most with your target audience? Are you conducting A/B tests to learn what's working and what's not on an ongoing basis and not just once in a while
With the right content marketing strategy, any business can significantly increase its online visibility while solidifying a professional and trustworthy reputation. Defining a content marketing strategy is imperative for any business, brand, or individual looking to establish an online presence of their own.
Inbound Marketing focuses on an all-encompassing (inbound) marketing strategy that includes a range of tools that build a sustainable framework for the future. From incorporating content marketing and blog posts to webinars, newsletters, and a variety of different social media channels, email campaigns to nurture visitors along their journey, Inbound Marketing is the culmination of all of your marketing efforts resulting in one cohesive strategy.
Why Inbound Marketing is Working in a Recession
The correct application of Inbound Marketing will ultimately save money while streamlining your marketing efforts across multiple online channels. Inbound solutions attract visitors to your website long after you initially implement your Search Engine Optimization or Content Marketing. Using Inbound Marketing creates a ripple effect, impacting and appealing to your audience long after you have finished launching your initial campaigns.
Outbound marketing methods such as paid social media marketing (SMM), pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, and cold-calling, require a constant and ongoing investment for continued results. With the sole use of PPC campaigns or social media marketing campaigns, no sustained source of visitors is being established, even with consistent efforts.
Inbound Marketing provides stability in recessions or times of economic uncertainty; it is less costly and delivers a long-term impact that outbound approaches cannot provide. With Inbound Marketing, you spend more on building your business and a following rather than managing the ongoing expenses of outbound efforts.
How Inbound Marketing Works and Generates Leads
Learn more about the common phases used in Inbound Marketing to understand how Inbound Marketing can support the generation of new leads.
Essentially, nobody wants to be sold or marketed to; prospects want to find you as they search for solutions. It is imperative to keep this in mind when developing a marketing strategy for your own business. Avoid causing ad blindness or being just plain annoying to your target users by better understanding their wants and needs before you begin promoting your own best thing since sliced bread.
The first phase of Inbound Marketing is the Attract Phase. Here, we are looking to catch the eyes of new visitors while also being educational for existing users or customers; your products and services are evolving, after all. Commonly used elements in the Attract Phase include:
- Blogging: Using your blog is another great way to attract new prospective customers; it helps to establish and solidify a professional, credible, and trustworthy reputation. Be educational, not salesy.
- SEO: Focusing on Search Engine Optimization is also a part of the Attract phase when it comes to developing a long-term marketing ROI Inbound Marketing strategy. SEO matters, especially in highly competitive industries.
- Social media: Using organic, unpaid social media posts during the attract phase is rather common; it can establish access to millions of potential users. With social media, it is easy to share relevant and/or informative content quickly while also connecting and engaging with users who are genuinely happy to support your business and brand.
- Supportive Paid advertisements: While paid advertisements are often used with outbound campaigns, they can be rather powerful in priming an inbound campaign and/or in increasing inbound conversions with targeted, supportive retargeting efforts.
- Videos and visual media: The use of video media as well as professionally designed logos and visual media can have a significant impact on how others view your business and what it provides.
- Customer reviews and video testimonials: Both are beneficial elements to establish credibility, especially when expanding in a highly competitive space. Why choose you? Because others already do.
After you have built an initial audience during the Attract Phase of Inbound Marketing, the next step is to engage and nurture, learning more about your contacts and engaging prospective buyers and qualifying those who benefit most from your solutions.
- Automated marketing: The use of marketing automation and personalization is both common and beneficial at this stage, segmenting your audiences and providing relevant information where and when your prospects find it most engaging.
- Email marketing: Email newsletters are another form of Inbound Marketing that works best to engage users who have already shown an interest in your business or brand. Newsletters can be sent weekly, bi-weekly, or even monthly to help you remain actively engaged with your existing audience.
- Live chatbots: The use of live chatbots can assist your online visitors through the process of navigating your website or even making a purchase. They are also extremely beneficial for the raw data they provide.
- Simplified lead generation: The more data you collect from users via forms, newsletters, and chatbots, the easier it will become to generate leads for a campaign that is most likely to resonate with your target demographics.
Once you have connected with your audience and have a solid following, the delight phase is then used to stay connected with your followers and customers on an ongoing basis.
- Automated marketing: Marketing automation is essential in many aspects of Inbound Marketing, including long-term marketing ROI strategies in the Delight phase. Your following is growing, and the manual and personalized messaging to targeted segments of your audience will come harder and harder.
- Blog comments/updates: Engage with users on your blog by responding to comments, asking for input, and even providing valuable and direct feedback.
- Knowledge Bases: For visitors and customers familiar with your products and services, providing "how to" guidance, lessons and experiences learned by others is a great way of being helpful.
- Social media engagement: Continuing the engagement with users and customers on social media is a great way to establish and maintain long-lasting relationships.
- Surveys: Showing a passion and curiosity for what is moving your users and customers is a great way of learning what's working and what's now. It can and should be a key channel to learning and improving your products and services.
How to Measure the Success of Inbound Marketing
Measuring the success of Inbound Marketing is essential for the success of being inbound; after all, what you don't measure is hard to achieve:
- Bounce rate: How many visitors visit your pages and turn around instantaneously? Because you're attracting the wrong people, those with no interest in your content or because your content is not relevant to them?
- Conversions: How many visitors become fans, e.g., subscribers, of your communications, and how many of them become leads and eventually customers? When and where in the process do they fall off?
- Cost of Acquisition: How much does all of the above cost you to convert the anonymous nobody to a customer? Knowing this number and how it varies across channels and over time will have to become the key metric to balance with your lifetime value of a customer and the resulting Return on Investment, ROI.
- Engagement: Your visitors and customers, how much do they reach out to you and leave feedback, positive or negative, and how many come back? Do they consume your content, share it and promote it or do they just skim it for fractions of a second and never come back?
- Number of Leads: Understanding not just the result of your activities but the impact of your marketing is to measure the number (and source) of leads and, eventually, customers. (Inbound) Marketing, much like any other activity in your business, needs to earn its keep continuously
- Total Reach: What is the total reach, the number of recipients you are addressing with the Inbound Marketing strategies you have deployed and are you successful in growing your reach?
Eventually, done right, the ROI and Long Term Impact of Inbound Marketing will outweigh most other Marketing approaches and establish a long-term, compounding contribution to growing your business, especially in challenging times, in times of economic uncertainty, and in times of recession.