Are you wondering what Inbound Marketing is and how it can help your business? Perhaps you've heard that using content marketing tools like blogging, eBooks and social media can help attract prospective buyers to your website. Or maybe you've heard about the benefits of the new marketing tactics over traditional approaches.
This methodology is all about attracting potential customers to your website and leading them through a series of steps to convert them into paying customers.
In this post I aim to share some analogies to explain inbound marketing, which I hope will help you understand how it all comes together.
1. Inbound Marketing is Like a Watering Hole
Having my roots in Africa, I've always liked this analogy. Think of it as turning your website into an information watering hole for your industry. Instead of spending money on traditional marketing channels (magazines, radio, cold calling, etc) start creating content that will help and educate customers and prospective customers.
Creating and curating quality content will help you attract visitors through search engines, blogs and social media, setting you up as a thought leader for your industry.
2. Blogging is like jogging
When you start jogging that first kilometer, it may feel like running a marathon! You think to yourself: "How on earth do people do this?" After a few weeks, if you're jogging consistently everyday, it all becomes a lot easier and you can go much further.
Blogging isn't much different. The first few posts feel like you're running a content marathon. But it's also about consistency. Set yourself small goals that you can comfortably achieve. Get started with one blog a week that answers a common customer question related to an industry challenge or problem. As you become more comfortable, take it up a notch, perhaps 1-2 blogs a week. The key is consistency over sporadic effort. Blogging like crazy for two weeks and leaving it for a few months won't bear fruit.
3. Keywords are like applying to college
Living in the U.S. for a few years gave me the opportunity to observe the college application process. Aside from how important sports scholarships are in the process, students apply to a range of colleges. The colleges they really want to get into are their reach options, the 'Ivy League' colleges. While they also apply to some target and safety schools - community colleges and other less prestigious colleges - just in case they don't get their reach option.
Keyword selection can be viewed the same way. There are those really desirable words that are difficult to rank for due to the high competition. While you should reach some of these top 'Ivy League' keywords, you should also target some safe "community college" and long tail keywords. They're going to be easier to rank for and will also bring results.
Keep in mind that using long tail keywords may actually attract more qualified sales leads than some of those reach keywords.
4. The Internet is like a Popularity Contest
Obviously, you want to be the most popular watering hole in town! To do that, you need to attract the punters. Your "web presence" should attract customers, prospective customers and industry thought leaders. The more people vote for you, the more likely you are to be the most popular watering hole in town. Think about it: when you're looking for a new restaurant to try, you check with your friends, look up places on social media and check the reviews.
When you create really good content, people want to read and link to it or "vote for" it - that's the way search engines know your content is good - they are making it more popular. Since Google only wants to return the most relevant content in it's search results to make it's searchers happy, it is going to return what is considered to be the most popular and relevant by the audience. The more people vote for you through inbound links, the more likely you are to show up in the top search results for a related term.
5. Lead Conversion is like Dating
You start by attracting a person and then exchanging contact details. Gradually, you learn more about the person, their likes and dislikes, what motivates them. Once you get to know each other better, you can step it up a notch and offer something involving a bit more commitment.
Inbound Marketing is much the same. You use a Call-to-Action to attract a visitor with a compelling offer, a Landing Page to get their contact information, and then you start building a relationship that will ideally lead to converting them into a customer.
6. Marketing Automation is like Growing a Plant
Here is a great analogy from Hubspot...
"Imagine you’re trying to grow a plant. First you need fertile soil ripe for the growth of your plant. Next, you need seeds themselves to care for, and last you need water and light in order to nurture those seeds into a lush, blooming plant. It’s not foolproof, but it’s not impossible. In our story, effective marketing automation looks just like nurturing this plant does. At the end of the day, we hope we’ve nurtured our leads (the seedlings) well enough to produce actual paying customers (a lush, full-grown plant.)”
You've invested a lot of time in attracting visitors to your web site. Now you need to spend time nurturing those leads in order to build trust so that you can eventually turn leads into paying customers. Lead nurturing takes a great deal of effort, so naturally it helps to automate some of the process.
Take email for example: imagine creating a personalized email to everyone on your mailing list. It would take you forever! By the time you got to the 10th email you'd either give up or figure there must be a way to automate the process. Using marketing automation, you can segment your prospect list, craft one email with dynamic fields to personalize it, and then based on their response to the email, nurture them further down the road.