While these classic disciplines still survive today, they are largely lumped into what is called “traditional media,” with an ever evolving collection of social media, digital video, smart phone apps, and even virtual reality tactics have grown to form what is known as “new media.” The point is, the past couple of decades have seen advertising evolve at a rate with which it is difficult for most brands to keep up.
As if the Traditional/New media split wasn’t enough, there’s recently been growth in a new type of marketing called Inbound Marketing.
Most paid advertising (from radio and billboards to online banner ads) have traditionally pushed a message out in an “outbound” fashion. They have been intentionally disruptive, all but forcing a prospective consumer to hear a message and consider the advertiser’s product. While this type of advertising, when done strategically, is still important for growing brand awareness, it is increasingly becoming critical that it be combined with Inbound Marketing tactics.
Inbound Marketing refers to a deliberate collection of content that is designed to draw prospective consumers into your website organically. As they learn about your brand, your product, and its benefits, they progressively are moved down a funnel that converts them into customers and ultimately brand loyalists. It has a critical place in any company’s Brand Publishing Strategy, the importance of which we have written about before. It’s also not completely a new idea, but a new name for a collection of lead generation tactics which have been in use for some time.
A classic advertising campaign from the 1960s is the Volkswagen “Think Small” campaign. How would this campaign work in the modern era of Inbound Marketing?
Imagine a modern consumer hearing a radio commercial for a Volkswagen car. In today’s world, they may go online and search for things such as “Volkswagen reviews”, or “Volkswagen models compared”. When they conduct these searches, they may find a whole collection of articles, informational videos, downloadable brochures, and other content related to Volkswagen. This is helpful information that the prospective Volkswagen customer sought out on their own.
Perhaps they also follow the official Volkswagen social media pages, and sign up for their newsletter. Soon, Volkswagen sends them a helpful list of dealers in their area, and the prospect begins seeing more and more targeted social media ads featuring testimonials of real Volkswagen drivers. It’s only a matter of time before this prospect purchases a Volkswagen vehicle…maybe one day to be featured in a testimonial video as a Volkswagen owner himself! And so, the Inbound Marketing cycle repeats.
It’s a lot of additional steps in the process to be sure, but modern day tools like HubSpot allow for most of the process to be automated, quickly and routinely optimized, and reported on.
So how can your brand embark upon forming an Inbound Marketing strategy? Make sure you implement these six key components.
1.) Content and Brand Publishing Strategy
Remember all of the content our prospective Volkswagen buyer found online? The content created by Volkswagen, intentionally crafted to pull him in with useful information, is a part of Volkswagen’s Brand Publishing effort. Brand Publishing refers to any content your brand produces and distributes, including the content related to your Inbound Marketing strategy. A good mix of content includes blogs, longer articles and whitepapers, downloadable ebooks, videos, and more. It also includes a mix of content designed to be relevant to prospects at different stages of the buying journey—while a Volkswagen prospect in the initial research phase of the buying cycle might favor high level content like a vehicle brochure, a prospect closer to making a purchase decision might like to view an infographic that shows the cost savings of buying a Volkswagen over time due to their reliability and high fuel economy rating.
2.) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Our prospective Volkswagen owner would never have found Volkswagen’s content if it was not “SEO-friendly.” Content is SEO-friendly whenever it follows best practices for keywords, links, and content format. The algorithms that dictate this can be quite complex, which means it’s usually best for blogs and articles to be crafted using an SEO plugin for your CMS, or using a tool like HubSpot that automatically provides SEO suggestions.
3.) Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
Though Search Engine Marketing, or SEM, is a paid tactic, it is still a critical component of an Inbound Marketing strategy since it targets an audience that is actively searching for information. SEM can be used to speed up your SEO efforts by effectively buying your way to the top of the search engine results page. Since this is a paid tactic, it’s important to do ample keyword research using tools like Moz’s Keyword Explorer, Spyfu, or SEMRush. This will ensure your SEM buy is as cost effective as possible.
4.) Social Media
Another way to speed up your SEO efforts is to routinely publish your blogs and other content onto your social media pages. Your followers on social media have already opted-in from hearing more about you, meaning that posting your content onto your social channels further helps to grow your brand’s affinity with them.
You could also pursue a paid advertising campaign on social media to target people who aren’t already following you. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn all offer sophisticated tools that allow you to target people based on their location, age, interest, industry, or even to retarget people who have been to your website before as a way to keep your brand top of mind.
5.) Landing Pages
While creating content for content’s sake and actively promoting it is great—it’s safe to assume you eventually want to make some sales and grow your customers! This is where landing pages come in. A landing page is a webpage focused on encouraging a site visitor to make one singular action—usually to fill out a form to request more information, download a piece of premium content, or even to make a purchase online. You will likely have multiple landing pages set up around a number of key “milestones” of the buyer journey for your particular product. Perhaps these are signing up for an e-newsletter, downloading a product brochure, and requesting to be contacted by a salesperson. Like your content strategy, your landing page strategy should match up with the Inbound Marketing funnel, moving prospects progressively down the line.
6.) A Champion Brand
The last key component of an Inbound Marketing strategy is perhaps the most important—your brand! The best content, the most sophisticated tactics, and the most beautifully designed landing pages won’t help you if you don’t have a well-defined brand positioning, clear differentiators, and powerful rational and emotional benefits to your brand. Conducting research with current and prospective customers, as well as your internal staff, can help you identify all of these points and develop a strong brand positioning to guide every aspect of your marketing.
Need to develop a Champion Brand, as well as an Inbound Marketing strategy? Dovetail is a full-service brand communication agency that can help you Champion Your Brand® through an integrated approach to branding. Remember the importance of landing pages? Visit ours where you can sign-up for a Complimentary One-Hour Consultation with Dovetail. We’ll help you solve your biggest marketing challenges, click below to sign-up.