However the digital age we live in has changed some of the rules of the game and those who understand what is possible can begin to take full advantage of electronic media in its various forms. Gone are the days of not knowing what percentage of your marketing spend is being wasted as digital tracking techniques now allow companies to monitor their marketing
campaigns almost immediately the minute they have been launched.
All businesses need to market themselves in such a way as to build good relationships with their customers as it is no secret that retaining customers for repeat business is a lot less costly than seeking new customers. For this reason no inbound marketing
initiative is complete without a comprehensive Customer Relationship Management (CRM
) solution. Used in conjunction with inbound marketing, CRM can help with identifying, targeting, acquiring and retaining the most suitable mix of customers for the best profitability for the business. A good CRM system also helps in getting to understand the needs of the customer while enhancing customer service. Another advantage of CRM is that it can be used to manage the whole marketing and sales process so that the organisation's employees are armed with the right information to allow them to interact with prospective customers in the most positive way possible.
Part of having a successful inbound marketing strategy requires offering prospective and existing customers as much relevant information as possible on your organisation's products or services. The trick is to entice them to view this information via electronic media such as websites, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like so that an interaction with the customer can begin. This can be getting them to sign up to receive newsletters, entering a competition, filling in a survey or feedback form, or simply having them bookmark your pages so that they return again in the future if they aren't ready to become a customer right away. Customers today want to make a more informed buying decision and it stands to reason that the organisation that makes it easier to get the information that they are looking for has a better chance of engaging with them as part of the process of turning them into customers.
The following are seven different ways to contribute to having a successful inbound marketing strategy:
- Write content that stands out from the rest: your business is not going to get recognised if you just produce the same content that everyone else has. It is important to provide readers with something new and fresh. Just like the television and social media channels that compete for your attention, content works in much the same way. Write content that educates, is inspirational and if appropriate, entertains the reader.
"It is also vitally important that the company's website is aligned properly in terms of having compelling and enticing content for inbound marketing to work successfully," comments Grant Chapman of Camsoft Solutions. "The one big advantage that inbound marketing has over more traditional forms of marketing is the ability to precisely measure the success rate so that techniques used in successful campaigns can be replicated and best practices improved on to get the most out of one's marketing efforts. Many businesses also make the mistake of trying so hard to mention their brand enough times in their content that they lose the reader's interest where they should instead be trying to push for discussions through their content," he adds.
- Use calls-to-action: one can spend so much time trying to get traffic to a website but once the visitors arrive, unless there is a compelling call-to-action, such as requesting more information, asking for a quote or joining a newsletter, you are likely to lose them just as quickly as you attracted them. Visitors wants to know where they must go and what they must do when they get to your website. If visitors aren't given any guidance on what to do on your site you could have wasted your time and effort getting them to your site in the first place.
Make your website easy to navigate and if you have a blog, make sure they can subscribe to your articles. Although you might think that boosting your website search rankings through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the most important aspect, calls-to-action ideally need to be optimised first.
- Attention spans play a big role: when writing content keep in mind that the attention span of the average visitor is typically only about eight seconds. Writing content that is long and detailed won't keep your reader engaged if you haven't lured them into something compelling during these vital first few seconds.
Using visuals in your content can cut through the content and making things more colourful and interesting can grab the attention of your readers. Sure, you might not have designers to come up with those beautiful visuals but just taking a picture on your phone could well do the trick. Take pictures of your team, offices, customers and products because as they say 'a picture is often worth a thousand words'.
- Use inbound marketing to save you money: stop spending money on channels that don't deliver sufficient returns on investment and rather invest in good blogging and social media. Measuring the success of your inbound marketing campaigns allows you to cull the ones that aren't delivering. We are living in a digital age where customers are more inclined to want to interact with businesses to get personalised service. By using social media and creating content for your blogs you are allowing your customers to interact and build relationships with you.
- Choose the right team: your team's skills need to match your strategy and you will need people who are digital savvy, have the ability to analyse results and can increase the reach of your business in the market. You will also need to have individuals who know how to create outstanding content.
- Increase your web presence: You need to drive traffic from a variety of different platforms as this will ensure that you increase the size of your audience. For example, you can market yourself by linking your social pages to your business website. Your "About" section of your social pages should also have a short description of your business as this will let viewers know who you are and why they should be interested in what you have to offer.
- Make sure your success is widely known: people looking to buy products or services from organisations will choose those that they consider are doing a great job. After all, if a company is being successful then there's usually a very good reason for it. It makes sense then that companies that make their success known will have a greater chance of being chosen by potential customers. Display awards that you have received over the years on your website. When people have seen that you have been awarded for your work it will only increase their desire to do business with you.
Testimonials are also one of the best ways to show people, including those in other businesses, that you are doing a great job. They give them the confidence to reach out to your organisation. Ask one of your business partners to write a recommendation of your company on LinkedIn or for use on your website. Another way to get noticed and show your clients you are listening to them is to retweet a flattering tweet sent by them. Depending on your type of business it could also be a good idea to integrate your social-media feeds into your blog or website, making sure that someone is getting the content of course to ensure that it doesn't bring your organisation into disrepute. Positive media coverage can also be incorporated into your digital content to increase traffic and recognition.