The Forward Observer

The 3 Most Important Aspects of Inbound Marketing

Are you a bit overwhelmed by inbound marketing and all its moving parts? Don’t be – it all comes down to three concepts.

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Inbound marketing is a philosophy rooted in the idea that people value personalized, relevant content – not interruptive messages.

inbound marketing philosophy

The inbound methodology is about helping brands attract, convert, close and delight visitors, leads and customers through a variety of channels like social media, blogging, SEO and email. In essence, inbound marketing pulls customers to your company instead of shouting at them with interruptive messages.

Inbound marketing continues to grow in awareness and adoption, but many are not familiar with it or are still wrapping their minds around the concept.

For someone accustomed to more traditional marketing, there is a lot to learn and it can seem overwhelming and even intimidating.

When I have explained inbound marketing and its key features, I’ve found that people understand it more easily when I break it down into the three most important aspects: 1) Getting found online, 2) Converting visitors & leads, and 3) Analyzing and improving.

1. Getting Found Online

Getting found online starts long before someone does a Google search. Here are the key things that need to happen before that can occur:

Establish Goals – The most effective inbound marketing efforts are those most tightly aligned with an organization’s business goals. Are there strategic or business plans that drill down to marketing and sales goals? Are they specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timebound? This can be the most difficult part, but when it’s done well, everything else falls more easily in place.

Buyer Persona – Who is your ideal buyer? What “trigger” gets them to first start searching for a solution that your company might be able to help with? What do they expect a company like yours to offer? Why might these buyers not buy from you? How do they go about researching a solution like yours and ultimately make a decision?

Website Development – This is where you ensure that your site is easy to navigate, has a professional appearance, is mobile ready, search engine friendly and easy to update.

Keyword Research – What are the terms that your buyers use in searching for a solution to a problem that you can solve? Are they different from the industry terms that you might be using? How hard is it to rank for these keywords (i.e. competitive)? From search engine optimization standpoint, you want optimize your site for those keywords and routinely create keyword-targeted content and build quality links to your website.

Blogging – This is where you create blog articles that interest your prospective audience (tip: talk about how to solve their problems, not about your company). Blogging creates more pages in the search engines, which translates into more opportunities for you to be found.

Social Media – With social media, you can build a following, share your blog posts and engage in conversations with your prospective customers. This is where social media can dramatically boost marketing effectiveness. Marketing expert Jay Baer says “Content is fire. Social media is gasoline.”

2. Converting Visitors & Leads

If you’ve ever shopped at a Costco or other warehouse type club, you may have noticed that they offer delicious samples of food. This is done because, not surprisingly, it generates sales. The same principal applies to inbound marketing offers where your anonymous website visitor becomes a known lead.

Offers – Also known as “premium content” appeal to buyers at all stages of their buying journey, whether they are first starting out, evaluating competitive options or making their final decision. Examples of offers include ebooks, whitepapers, webinars, tip sheets, etc.

Calls To Action (CTA) & Landing Pages – A CTA is a website button, image or text link that encourages a visitor to take an action by typically clicking on the button, visiting a landing page and filling out a form in return for some kind of content.

And voilà, you generate a lead! Now the real work begins. Fortunately, marketing automation software helps make all of this manageable.

Segmented Leads – Based on what the visitor has downloaded as well as which pages they visit and other digital body language, you can segment your lead into any number of groups.

Lead Nurturing – Many of your leads will buy, they just aren’t going to buy right away. And maybe not from you. Two of the most powerful aspects of inbound marketing are content and context. Using lead nurturing, you can offer your prospects the right content at the right time to help guide them through their purchase.

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3. Analyzing and Improving

One of the most important aspects of inbound marketing is measuring and analyzing your results. This constant feedback allows you to do more of what’s working and less of what’s not working.

Some of the most important things to measure with inbound marketing include:

  • Traffic To Leads
  • Cost Per Lead
  • Leads To Customers
  • Cost Per Customer

Other metrics that are enormously helpful include:

Traffic sources
Referring websites
Popular pages
Bounce rate
CTA performance (A/B Testing)
Keyword performance
Search rankings
Traffic from search 
Inbound links
Blog subscribers
Social media audience size/growth
Social media engagement
Email subscribers
Email click-through rate
Email growth rate
Email sharing and forwarding







Which do you think are the most important aspects of inbound marketing?

photo credit: visualpanic via photopin cc
graphcs credit: HubSpot

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