For every successful conversion you may get from outbound marketing methods, how many potential customers did you put off?

Your audience is getting very good at blocking out promotional ‘noise’ created by outbound marketing methods, whether that’s by installing pop-up ad blockers, or putting direct mail straight into the bin.

HubSpot’s recent report, The Effectiveness of Advertising in Asia Pacific, revealed these intrusive forms of advertising caused consumers to have a negative opinion of the brands using them.

So consider this – for every successful conversion you may get from outbound marketing methods, how many potential customers did you put off?

The solution is to align your marketing with the way your audience wants to be communicated with – that means shifting your marketing strategy so that it adds value to your audience, bringing them to you, rather than trying to push your message out in an intrusive manner. This methodology is called inbound marketing.

What exactly is inbound marketing?

At its core, inbound marketing is about pulling people in by sharing useful content, and generally being helpful. In other words, it’s about adding value to your potential customers, not pushing your brand in front of them and hoping they will like it.

This content is optimised to attract visitors via search engines and social media, designed to convert visitors into leads using calls-to-action and forms, with the intention of them becoming  customers.

It’s measurable, effective, and it’s designed to delight your customers and prospects who are likely to develop a positive view of your brand as you’re proving yourself to be inherently useful.

How can small businesses get started with inbound marketing?

The best thing about inbound marketing is that it has no immediate cost other than your time.

1. Develop buyer personas

Before you create any content for your audience, you need to know exactly who that audience is. Create a buyer persona based on your ideal customer using and collate their goals, challenges and demographic information. This is who you’re producing content for; in other words, this is the type of person you want to attract, convert, close and delight with your marketing efforts.

2. Create a blog

Start by creating a blog on your website; this is where the majority of your content will live. It serves to attract new visitors through search engines like Google, as well as through social media when the content is shared on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn for example. If you don’t have social media channels yet, start with Facebook – learn how to get your business page set up here.

People who land on your blog are likely to be in the ‘discovery’ phase of their buyer’s journey. They have a problem and need some information before considering their options.

Not a writer? Not many people are. But the advantage you do have is that you’re an expert in your field. You can always ask someone who knows a bit more about writing to proofread your posts once you’ve written them. Think about your persona’s challenges and what information they’re looking for in relation to your product or service. It’s important to remember that the purpose of a blog post is not to sell. Use your blog as a channel for attracting new visitors to your website and helping them.

3. Convert these new visitors

Create a larger piece of content that you can offer people in exchange for their contact details. This content might be an eBook, downloadable templates, a checklist, and so on. The key point here is that the content needs to have more value than your blog posts for someone to consider giving you their contact details.

Place call-to-actions within relevant blog posts to encourage people to download the ebook if they want more help/information. As your eBook is hidden behind a form, anyone who downloads it enters their contact information and becomes a lead.

We’ve covered the basics of content creation for inbound marketing, but there’s a lot more to learn if you want to develop a truly effective strategy. The HubSpot Academy offers free online inbound marketing courses for anyone who wants to learn the ropes (it takes around 5-6 hours to complete).

Success Stories: Australian Businesses Using Inbound Marketing

Let’s look at some Australian companies that are implementing successful inbound marketing strategies.

1. Your Tutor

Here’s an example of an online tutoring company seeing success with inbound marketing. Your Tutor’s blog is full of useful ‘discovery’ phase content for their target persona (parents), with clear calls-to-action within these posts guiding their prospective customers towards the next stage in their buyer’s journey.

2. Canva

Canva is an easy-to-use online design tool aimed at small businesses looking to market themselves using visual materials (social media posts, ebook covers, email headers, the list goes on). Their Design School blog is a hub of information for their personas, and includes templates and other resources to convert visitors into leads.

Inbound marketing is a cost effective way to market your business. Not only can implementing an inbound marketing strategy help your business grow on a budget, but it can alter the way your future customers perceive your brand by taking that associate from negative (pushy, outbound tactics) to positive (value-adding, helpful inbound tactics).

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