I’ve said many times before that the overwhelming majority of marketing activities are dreadfully unsuccessful.
And now, after playing in the traditional marketing margins for years and chasing smaller and smaller response rates, many marketers are realizing that we have quite literally reached the point of no return with much of our outbound marketing.
The future of marketing is inbound. And one of the biggest challenges with inbound marketing, or pull-based marketing across businesses of all sizes is establishing the mindset for pull. Pull puts customers first. Pull seeks to deliver value. And so, inbound marketing is quite simply defined by this simple phrase from Hubspot CEO Brian Halligan (@bhalligan): Get found!
And once we paint this picture, most marketers say : “Great. Now tell me how to get it done!” So here are 7 steps to getting found with inbound marketing.
1. Name Your Customers
The first step in inbound marketing is an old-school marketing technique but is so often forgotten: research your customers. It starts by defining and understanding the buyer “personas” who are already interested in your solution category. Name them. Define the common buyer-journey back-stories and narratives about them. Get to know who these people are in as real a way as you can.
2. SEO. SEO. SEO.
So do you think SEO is important? It is maybe the most important part because nothing can happen without solid keyword research and a keyword strategy. A real understanding of the customer should take a deeper-dive into the actual keywords your audience uses when searching for solutions. Everyone uses a search engine and researches the big-ticket products they buy. SEO can also help you to understand how they think about the solution and the words they use when they talk about it.
3. Media Consumption
This is a step many people skip but it is really important. What you should define as best as you can is the percentage of time your audience spends in various media channels such as print, online, TV, mobile, social, etc. Then you can model the appropriate mix for your audience. Mary Meeker has already told us that we are way under-spent in online media and mobile.
Once you know who your audience personas are, what keywords they use, what buyer journey they take and what media channels they use, you should look at the content you have and see if it meets each of those scenarios. Then develop an editorial calendar to fill the gaps. I have spent a lot of time on Content Strategy lately as this topic is becoming more widely discussed by marketing folks across every industry and size of business. I personally believe marketers should seriously look at blogging because this allows you to test all the elements of inbound marketing. And you can see the results in real time and adjust your strategy.
5. Identify Influencers and Get Social
Everyone uses a search engine and everyone is on a social platform. But don’t make the mistake of so many marketers and setup your social accounts and just start sending out traditional promotional messages. Social requires a different form of engagement. My advice is to find the top influencers in your space. This might include customers, bloggers, media outlets. Then simply ask them how you can best reach your audience or ask them to help you. Worst case scenario is to just emulate what they do.
6. Share With Care
Inbound marketing doesn’t mean you stop promoting anything. It just means you take a more customer-focused and value-based approach. And every channel has certain unwritten rules of etiquette to ensure you are not considered a self-centered blow-hard. For example, on Twitter, some people follow the Twitter 4-1-1 rule. This means that for every 6 tweets, you share other people’s original content 4 times, you RT someone else’s content 1 time for every 1 promotional tweet. And by promotional, again, I mean simply sharing valuable content, not overly promotional crap no one wants. Now this only talks about Twitter but you should determine your own rules for all channels.
7. Response Management
I have always believed that the most important step in the social maturity of any organization is to identify their social response management resources and processes. The ultimate end state will produce a social business where every employee is helping to tell your brand story in some small way. And sales people become more social (and less direct) sales people with strong personal brands. The bottom line is that when someone asks your company a question, that someone at your company is setup to respond quickly to meet the near-real-time expectations we all have.
These are the 7 steps I recommend as you get started on your inbound marketing plan. What do you think? Have I missed anything?