You may have heard that marketing methods can be separated into two categories: “push” and “pull” techniques. Push marketing uses techniques that are pushed under the noses of your audience like online banner ads, broadcast advertising, handing out flyers, or social media ads. Push marketing is also known as “outbound” marketing.
“Pull” techniques however are those that draw the audience to you rather than blasting your message out, such as content marketing, organic social media, and email marketing. These methods increase awareness of your brand by attracting people to you as a valuable resource. This is “inbound” marketing.
In fact, the above three inbound marketing examples are a great first step for beginners, so let’s look at each of them in depth.
If you are totally new to inbound marketing, then check out our post “Inbound Marketing: What You Need to Know” to get up to speed.
Publishing regular content (such as blogs, podcasts, and videos) helps to raise your your profile as an authority in your field whilst also helping your audience answer in-demand questions. Content marketing gives you valuable collateral to share over social media and through email mailouts – and that’s before we even go into the potential SEO benefits!
To create content regularly, you need a steady stream of in-demand topics to talk about. As someone who blogs for a living, I can tell you that this is no mean feat. I highly recommend keyword research tools like Google’s Keyword Planner (which is accessible through Google Ads), Answer The Public, or Moz Keyword Explorer to help come up with ideas. Simply type in your specialist subject and these tools will help you find popularly searched for aspects of each topic to create content about.
Once you’ve got a few ideas in mind, it’s time to work out how frequently you’re going to publish new content. Working to a regular schedule keeps you incentivised to create new posts/videos whilst also painting you as a reliable and timely source of information. Sticking to a routine helps you plan your time wisely while giving your audience an idea of when they can expect new content.
But while you’re starting out, don’t make any promises to your audience about frequency until you’ve worked out a reliable routine that you can comfortably maintain. This way, if you’re finding it hard to keep up with the pace you’ve set yourself, you can always tweak your routine without letting any readers/listeners/viewers down.
Never be tempted to release lots of poor quality content for the sake of it – quality is more important than quantity! Each piece of content you produce should provide a valuable take-home message – whether that’s advice, a unique opinion, useful tools, or even simple entertainment value. Readers always subconsciously ask “what’s in it for me?” at all times, so endeavour to create something that’s worth their while every single time.
Decide early on which type of content you feel most comfortable with creating. If you’re a better speaker than a writer, consider focusing on producing video or podcasts. If you are good with graphics, publish infographics or video. If you’re a good writer, consider relying on blogs or pre-scripted podcasts.
Organic Social Media
Social media is nigh-on essential for business nowadays. It provides an essential method for getting your name out there and is the cornerstone to many organisations’ online marketing strategies.
But social media isn’t a “set it and forget it” thing – you need to keep your social media platforms live, vibrant, and up to date. Depending on the platform, this may mean posting multiple times a day but creating new posts on the fly in real time can interrupt your working day or that of your team. The best way around this is to use scheduling tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to “batch” your social media updates.
There are scores of social media platforms out there, so you need to make sure you’re not wasting your time on the wrong ones. The most important question you can ask is “where do my target audience hang out on social media? Where am I most likely to find people who need what I offer?”. You can easily find this out by asking your previous clients where they’re present on social and/or by simply observing industry-relevant accounts, hashtags, and groups on each platform.
If you’re totally new to a given social media platform, start by setting up an anonymous account so you can get to grips with how it all works. This way, any rookie mistakes will be made on a separate account and won’t be associated with your brand. And if you decide not to move forward with a given platform, your company name won’t be emblazoned across numerous empty accounts.
As you become familiar with new social platforms, look info their peak usage times and consider planning your posts around those times to maximise visibility.
I know what some of you may be thinking – no, email marketing is not the same as spamming. Provided you’re doing it right, it’s a perfectly legitimate, above-board marketing practice that fits in well with the social and content driven nature of the modern web.
If you’re an SME, you most likely picked up on the recent hubbub about GDPR. We go into things in more detail in our guide “A No-Nonsense Look at GDPR” but put very simply, you need explicit permission from everyone on your mailing lists before you can send them marketing communications – especially if they’re private individuals. That means no going through online directories and absolutely no buying email lists! Permission to receive marketing communications can be provided through an opt-in function on your website, as long as you make it totally exactly clear what they’re agreeing to receive and what you’re doing with their data. You also need to provide an unsubscribe link on all bulk marketing emails you send so recipients can easily opt out at any time.
As long as users are able to provide open and informed consent, there’s nothing wrong with incentivising them to become subscribers. A popular way of doing this is to create a free “lead magnet” in exchange for signing up to your mailing list This could take the form of an exclusive short PDF ebook or access to a webinar that’s not available anywhere else. You can read more about lead magnets here.
When sending out email campaigns, always use an email marketing tool like MailChimp or or MailerLite instead of sending email en masse from your email software (such as Outlook or Apple Mail). Doing the latter too many times is a surefire way to get your domain reported as a source of spam. Clearing your name once you’ve been blacklisted can be incredibly tricky, so it pays to use one of the many mailout solutions that help you comply with GDPR and other anti-spam legislation.
Email marketing solutions also have the added benefit of providing usage reports so you can see how many people opened, clicked, or unsubscribed from each individual campaign. Commit to analysing this data a short while after every campaign so you can establish what works and what doesn’t.
You also need to establish the right frequency to send your email campaigns too. You don’t want to send email too frequently and become a pest, but you don’t want to send emails too infrequently and risk being forgotten! Your own ideal frequency may depend on your industry and your individual offering, so do some market research to find out what works best for those in your situation.Looking into #inboundmarketing? Get started today with this beginner’s guide… Click To Tweet
So it’s over to you. How new are you to inbound marketing? How are you currently reaching out to customers? What methods are most successful? Are you doing anything that could be working better for you? Let’s compare notes down in the comments!