Traditional marketing strategies have seen their effectiveness disrupted—like so many other business activities—by the rise of digital technology. Paid streaming services for video and music are ad-free. People are using DVRs to record their favorite network programming and skip ads. What’s more, while you’ll find ads on nearly every website out there, they go largely ignored. In fact, most people find them annoying.
Long story short, outbound marketing barely cuts it anymore. Chasing customers down is passé. Letting them to come to you is the order of the day. With that in mind, here are some inbound marketing best practices to consider.
Identify The Ideal Id
While many of traditional marketing’s techniques have gone stale, one of its fundamental truths remains evergreen. You have to get to know your perfect customer. Take a look at your best patrons—the ones who spend the most and give you the fewest headaches. What traits do they have in common? Once you’ve identified those qualities, you can seek others who “look” just like them. Lookalike customers represent an outstanding opportunity because your offerings already appeal to them—they just don’t know who you are yet. But they will, once you have your inbound strategy properly in play.
Best Begin With a Blog
One of the sharpest tools in the inbound marketer’s kit is organic content. Let’s say you sell furniture online. Articles about decorating, home décor, renovations and other related topics are likely to be of strong interest to your ideal customer. Creating a blog around these subjects will gather all of your organic content in one place. This will give your inbound links a logical place to land on your ecommerce site.
Blaze New Trails with Emails
This tried and true method is one of the bedrocks upon which inbound marketing rests. However, your messaging must be personalized so your target audience will engage with it. Your content must be narrowly focused upon their problems, questions and interests. Think about it; you open email messages when they seem to speak directly to you. And, you click on the links within them when it makes sense to you to do so. See? Email still works.
Mind the SEO Evolution
It has been said the only constant in life is things always change. This is especially true when it comes to SEO. Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving in a quest to serve up the most relevant content possible in response to a given query. In fact, Google instituted more than 1,600 changes to its algorithm in 2016 alone. If your inbound campaign is going to be as successful as possible, you must make an effort to keep pace with SEO developments and be among the first to exploit them in your organic content strategy. Those who evolve will continue to show up on the first page of results. Those who allow their efforts to stagnate will get relegated to the second, third and fourth pages—or worse.
Scream and Scream Again
In most cases, first-time visitors to your ecommerce store will look around and leave without converting. That’s OK. It just means they aren’t ready to buy at that moment. But they will be eventually. If you’ve conducted your research, you’ve identified people who both need you and think like the people who already buy from you. This means your messaging will still be welcomed whenever they receive it. Retargeting works. After you’ve screamed at them once, scream at them again and again until they begin to spend. With cookies, you can track their activity on your site and serve them relevant ads, in addition to your content marketing efforts. Then, when they are ready to buy, you’ll be top of mind.
Embrace Social Responsibility
You had to know social media was going to come into this at some point. It’s an ideal delivery method for an organic content inbound strategy. However, choose your terrain carefully, rather than plant your flag on every hill out there. Keeping a social media channel active and vibrant is a lot of work. Thus, it makes more sense to only go after the platforms where your ideal customers can be found in significant numbers. This makes the endeavor a bit less difficult to manage. Plus your efforts will have more credibility because you’re staying within your area of expertise. Take a look at where your direct competitors concentrate their resources to see where you need to be. Odds are those platforms will work for you too. Identifying and working with social influencers in your arena will generate more traffic and conversions as well.
Video Vivifies and Revives
People love moving pictures, and an online furniture store is nicely positioned to provide them. Decorating clips, tutorials on how to measure a room, advice on arranging furniture to best advantage—the possibilities are nearly infinite. Every social platform accommodates video. You can also include it in your newsletters and emails. BTW, the next big things in video will be augmented and virtual reality. Get on board with them now so you’ll have a great seat when that ship leaves port.
OK, NOW You Can Advertise
Yes, we opened this article saying how advertising doesn’t work as well as it used to. However, when you study your analytics to determine the effectiveness of your inbound strategy, you can also learn where paid ads are likely to be most effective. You’ll know where your best customers spend time. When they see your ads in those places, your messaging will attract their attention, as it will have been supported by your inbound efforts. Further, birds of a feather flock together. If your ideal customer is there, others who think the way they do are too.
These inbound marketing best practices will help you speak directly to those who need and appreciate you most. The real beauty of inbound is you’ll no longer have to chase customers down, hit them over the head and drag them back to your store.
They’ll come willingly, which means they are far more likely to buy.