Ever since Dreamhouse became a certified HubSpot Partner Agency we've been plunged into a community and conversation about Inbound Marketing. It's funny because it's what we've been talking about all along, and when we did the training and certification courses, everything seemed to click into place and we knew, we'd found our people. At the core, Dreamhouse has always been about creating connection, building relationships, and fostering genuine engagement with people who share the values of our clients! This is the heart of Inbound thinking too.
First, you're probably asking the question:
WHAT IS INBOUND MARKETING?
This is a great place to start. HubSpot defines Inbound Marketing as:
"Inbound Marketing is a holistic, data-driven approach to marketing that attracts individuals to your brand and converts them into lasting customers."
This approach runs counter to traditional forms of marketing that include cold-calling, cold emails (SPAM), interruptive ads, and ads that focus on the marketer. Whereas, Inbound marketing uses avenues like Search Engine Optimization (SEO), blogging, attraction, and customer-centric ads to build relationships and accomplish specific goals.
When using Inbound Marketing, your customers will come to you!
By using multiple channels you can help your business increase website traffic, generate leads, build lasting relationships, move interested leads through your buying cycle, turn them into customers, and then create a positive feedback and referral loop that starts the process over again! This turns the idea of a "marketing funnel" into a continuous loop.
In the attract phase of Inbound Methodology, you provide valuable information and attractive experiences that draw your target audience in. This is where you turn a stranger into a friend. Someone could find you on social media, through a helpful article on your blog, or by finding you in a Google search result. They come across your brand because you provide a solution to a problem they are having or a service that they need. The focus in marketing has shifted away from outbound, where you try to push your brand in front of as many eyes as possible, to inbound, where you share something helpful, in a human way, that people seek out. From the start, you're establishing yourself as credible, trustworthy, and as a brand that cares for the viewers needs and goals! A great start... but you can't run a business from there.
Once they've found you, now is your chance to really connect. By using engagement strategies and tools, such as "Calls To Action," forms, landing pages, lead flows, email marketing, and conversation bots, you can gather more information that allows you to further help your viewer find answers to their questions. Here is where you start getting to know each other, gain more access and information, and you get the opportunity to present them with solutions to their problems. Whether it's leading them to the product they're looking to purchase or connecting them to a sales rep who can help them acquire your services, there are endless ways to engage people in this phase of the buying journey.
So you've found a new person to serve, you've connected and even converted them into a customer! AMAZING work... but this is not the end of the road. Many have heard the statistic before that 65% of a companies business comes from recurring customers! The "delight" phase of this process, is where you continue the long term relationship with your customer and two things start to happen: You turn them into a brand evangelist that pulls other people into the "attract" phase for you, and you pull them back into the attract phase as well! You can do this through social media, special offers, email marketing, dynamic content, and more.
84% of Small Businesses are predominately using Inbound Marketing. Are you maximizing the power of Inbound with your brand?
To help you break it down and start feeling the power of Inbound Marketing in the way you interact with your people, we've created this guide for you.
4 Ways That You Can Start "Thinking Inbound" Today
1. Turn Your Website Into A Resource
So often, small businesses think that they "have to have a website" but once you have one, it doesn't really matter. It just has to exist. Whenever someone tells me that their website doesn't matter, I die a little bit inside because the truth is, that websites are the most powerful tool you have in converting a total stranger into a lifelong part of your brand's family. Of course, a static website with your shop hours and contact info isn't doing a whole lot of work for your company but if you start to view your site as a resource and sales tool, you'll see it starting to pull some weight.
Here are two things you should consider adding to your website:
- Give the people something useful.
This is the "attract" phase. How do people even find you on the web. Chances are that they were googling something that lead them there or they saw something on social media that drew them in... but no one is coming to your site just to explore. They are looking for something, an answer or a solution. This is the value of creating a blog that discusses topics that are relevant to your ideal customer, and answers questions / solves problems that they have. Give the people what they want... useful content! THIS is what attracts them to your site. This boosts your ranking in search engine results. This is what becomes sharable. If you're not blogging, your site is likely slipping into oblivion without you even noticing.
- Give the people something to do.
Here's where you go from "attract" to "engage," This is where the good stuff happens. So, they came to your blog, you answered their question. Or maybe they saw your social media post and are interested in your product. Great. Now what? Here's where you can use forms and Calls To Action to bring them further into engagement with you! Find a way to capture their email address by giving them a special offer. Send them to a page with exclusive or time sensitive deals. This allows you to further connect, get more personal, and serve their needs. If you think about it strategically, you'll lead them to the thing they're looking to purchase and convert them into a customer!
2. Use Social Media Strategically
This is the easy part, we're on it all day anyway, so all you have to do is post everyday, right? LOL, no. Honestly, social media has become one of the biggest burdens I've seen with small businesses. There is so much to manage and it changes so often and you can't even tell if it's helping your business grow but you know you have to be on it so you just do it... AHH!!!
Please don't. I would urge you to consider what it would take for you to totally reenvision your relationship to social media marketing to make it more HUMAN and more STRATEGIC. You may think those ideas are opposite but let me explain.
- More Human
Posting just to post isn't going to really help you. If you're sharing the same old content (or worse yet, just memes and "inspirational" graphics) just so that you can say you posted every day... please stop. It's time to sit down and write a buyer persona, to really get present to your target audience. Who are they? What do they love... not just about your brand, but about life? How can you speak to them directly, personally. Think about the values of your brand, the common ground you share on those values. Think about what you want to communicate directly to them. Brainstorm, get creative, get personal, meditate and dream about it... then write your next posts.
- More Strategic
Now, just writing great, authentic posts won't grow your company either. While being a real one on The Gram is the foundation, it's not the end of your work. With each (super genuine heartfelt) post, you should have a goal. Maybe it's just sharing, maybe it's to sell a specific item, maybe it's driving website traffic, getting email subscribers, it can really be anything. Think about that goal and how you can get people to act on it. Create calls to action: ask them to comment, share, visit the site. Give them the next step and make it as easy as possible for them to take it.
3. Create Forms For Growing Your Audience
One of the first questions I ask organizations when I start to work with them is, "How do you collect email addresses?" More important than what you even do with email addresses (that's the fun part) is that you ARE COLLECTING THEM! You'd be surprised how few brands have made this a priority. Getting someones email address is the marketing holy grail. It's the one of the most intimate way you can contact someone... you know they will see anything you send out. No other form of marketing guarantees delivery the way email does. Even if you think your emails aren't that great yet (we'll work on that) or, God forbid, you're not emailing your people at all, still! COLLECT the email addresses! It can be as simple as a Google Form, a mailchimp generated form, a TypeFrom, a sheet of notebook paper! Whatever you gotta do.
Getting someones email address, however, requires trust. No one likes spam and unsubscribing is seriously SO much effort so letting people know what they're signing up for and why they want that is essential. There are a few ways to do this...
- Ask them.
Use email subscription as a call to action in your social media posts, have areas of your website dedicated to collecting emails addresses, have a sign up in your store, collect email addresses at point of sale. Any place where you're interacting with your followers is a good place to ask them for their email address.
- Bribe them.
Sometimes it takes a little more than a "please" to get the email address... so this is where you give them something to sweeten the deal. Offer a 10% off code when someone enters their email address. Give them a special content offer, download, ebook, etc. when they give you their info. Find out what makes sense for your company but find an incentive that will build your list and give you direct access to them in the future.
4. Use Email Marketing Powerfully
If you didn't get the point above... email is the direct access to your people. Start getting inside their worlds. Think of your ideal customer and what kind of content, offers, communication, and info they would want to know about your brand. What will add value to their lives.
Let your email list know about upcoming events, tell them about deals and promos you're running, anticipate their needs around holidays and seasons. Communicate with them in a personal way and don't make them regret giving your their email address.
You got this!
You are already doing the most when it comes to your brand. You work hard and always want the best for your baby... by starting to think in the Inbound Marketing framework and shifting the work you're already doing to be a little more strategic, a little more helpful, and a little more human, you will see huge results in the way you connect with real people and ultimately grow your company's sales and impact.
Finally, when you get to the point where managing all the layers becomes too much for you (I say when because I trust that you're a successful boss and it's just going to GROW for you!) there are so many resources out there to help you. From endless articles and tutorials to marketing automation software like HubSpot to full service Inbound Marketing agencies like Dreamhouse (wink), you don't have to manage it alone forever.
Our team is happy to chat with you anytime and offers FREE 30 minute marketing assessments to anyone who needs one. Feel free to schedule yours today.