Recently, someone asked me what is inbound marketing? I recognize there are quite a few definitions and Hubspot put together this great video. But I have a particular answer for “what is inbound marketing software”, that differs from simply explaining it relative to old-school outbound tactics (e.g. intrusive TV and newspaper ads). This definition can best be described as inbound marketing in practice. That is, how is the software actually applied from beginning to end. It certainly helps to do this if you have inbound marketing software that integrates the various components. Here’s Optimize 3.0’s definition of what is inbound marketing:
Buyer Persona. All inbound marketing efforts start with identifying your target customer. Sounds easy and it may be readily apparent, but for inbound marketing it is mission critical to define these personas in a manner that extracts the questions they're asking when starting the buying cycle decision process. I find it easier to actually give these personas names (see link to chart below).
Keyword Research. From your buyer persona definition start your keyword research. You need software that tells you how frequently a keyword is searched and how difficult it is to rank. These are important metrics . A number of services such as SEOmoz do this as well as Hubpsot. Use these tools to measure the keywords that your buyer persona(s) would use to search for your product.
Content. Content that is specifically designed to appeal to your buyer persona and anchored by your keyword research. Typically, it comes in two forms: Blog content and Freemium content. Blogging is perhaps the most effective way to create content. Google loves blogs -- it grows your indexed pages and creates many keyword ranking opportunities. Write blogs posts that contain the keyword research you’ve done at least 2-3 times in the article itself and the all-important page title. Freemium content is what your reader will get if they provide contact information. Effectively “leads” for your business. Freemium content includes whitepapers, eBooks, top 10 lists, webinars, etc – anything valuable enough so that you can capture a name and an email address. Inbound marketing software makes it easy to capture these leads.
Calls-To-Action (CTAs) and CTA Pages. These are the buttons and links that are placed on your website that call attention to specific content. These can be simple text links or graphic images. The concept is that you want to promote your CTAs on well-traffic pages of your site. They should all be above the fold. It is especially advantageous if you have inbound marketing software with A/B testing fucntionality (serves links alternately).
Landing Pages. These are the pages on your website where your perspective buyer accesses the Freemium content. Some important elements for these pages: No navigation, short description of the content, lead form and a related image. The lead form is where you capture contact information. You want to isolate what the user can do on this page, so inbound marketing software that allows you to create pages without navigation and include form capture is key. More on what is landing page.
Lead Nurturing. This is what occurs once a perspective buyer converts. Typically, a lead nurturing campaign involves 2 to 4 emails sent automatically over the course of several weeks. The first two introduce more of your helpful site content to your lead. Links to additional information on your site such as blog posts or whitepapers (good inbound marketing software won’t duplicate those leads). The last emails introduce your company and service or product as a solution to their needs. This could be a discount or free offer if they act now.
Social Media. Social media is a vast and complex landscape. For the purposes of explaining what is inbound marketing, social media is the ideal content distribution platform. High-end inbound marketing software allows you to integrate all of your social media accounts right into your website and most importantly, your blog. Once you post an article, short descriptions and links (most important) are automatically published to Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. The marketing power of this technology cannot be understated. You’re effectively broadcasting targeted messages into your social media accounts (Linkedin, Twitter & Facebook primarily) where more and more of your potential customers are spending time.
Analytics. The closed loop aspect of inbound marketing is paramount. Without knowing how your efforts are performing then there is no way to improve. Again, good inbound marketing software will offer these metrics and make it easy to analyze all of your efforts. Click-throughs of CTAs, conversion of landing pages, visits from organic search, visits from lead nurturing are all critical to knowing the inbound marketing ROI.
To help you better understand what is inbound marketing here is Optimize 3.0’s inbound marketing chart. This easy to follow worksheet is designed to help you map out each step in the inbound marketing process. Download and customize for your own use.
Ready to go a step further? Understand how inbound marketing and inbound marketing software can grow your business with an inbound marketing assessment.