Inbound Marketing is a term that gets discussed a great deal in the business media, but what is it exactly? It’s important to understand how Inbound Marketing can help building product brands generate brand awareness and affinity throughout the sales process.
A working definition
Inbound Marketing is a marketing strategy where a brand “pulls in” potential customers… by providing the kind of valuable content that audiences are pursuing. It’s the inverse of “pushing out” traditional marketing materials to those prospects.
Inbound Marketing creates connections that audiences are currently — and actively — seeking. And solves problems they already have. Or anticipates problems… they will likely encounter in the near future.
Let’s consider the differences between Inbound and Outbound Marketing.
- Focuses on high-quality, high-value targeted content
- Generates brand awareness
- Aims at building long-term relationships
Examples: Content thought leadership, blogging, live and virtual events, social media engagement
- Focuses on promotional, features and benefits campaigns
- Goal is to convert new users
- Seeks immediacy
Examples: Print or broadcast advertising, billboards (out of home), print collateral, direct mail
The Law of Attraction
Inbound Marketing, is the process of helping potential customers encounter a brand through attraction, rather than through promotion.
The essential, driving idea is to provide value first. And then to convert those prospects later. By adding continuous value as a priority… a marketer can engage prospects and guide them through all stages of the sales funnel.
While customers may not be ready yet to make a purchase — engaging with them early can create brand preference — which can help nurture those audience “leads”, resulting in eventual sales.
How to Maximize Inbound Content
Focus on value
When a brand consistently churns out generic, overly promotional articles, videos or social media posts based on features and benefits… that brand risks being perceived as unremarkable. And self-serving.
No one really wants to hear how, “we’re better than the other guys.”
No matter how much this type of content is promoted — or how carefully designed it is leveraged to rank well in search engines — it could remain a struggle to find new leads. Why? Because the campaign isn’t designed to create a real connection. Or, as is typically the case, much perceived value.
Remember, the job of all marketing campaigns is to engage audiences across the stages of the sales funnel — awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation and purchase. Think about what challenges or obstacles potential customers may be encountering at each stage of that funnel. And provide information that helps them address those challenges. By creating unique opportunities.
Meaningful content breaks through the sea of sameness. Reaching audiences where they currently are — oftentimes, long before they’ve even thought about a purchase. When executed effectively, inbound marketing content will engage prospects… and help drive them on to the next stage of the funnel.
After all, for building product brands — typically, the sales process isn’t a sprint — it’s a long-distance event.
Instead of composing a host of synoptic posts, we recommend producing well researched, in-depth content… supported by relevant data and analysis.
This longer-format content can help to populate a brand’s website and blog. It also can be shared on platforms like LinkedIn. And be made available as an email-driven microsite that features a downloadable white paper or study.
In addition to helping SEO efforts, the result will provide audiences with valuable information.
Useful, authoritative content that “teaches rather than preaches” is likely to be read, shared and recommended. And when those audiences are ready to start the sales process, your brand will be top of mind.
While using data, facts and figures is important… informational content doesn’t have to be dry and academic. Make sure to incorporate anecdotes, case studies and project profiles to create content that tells a compelling story.
Using storytelling in content marketing — from newsletter articles to videos and social media posts — will help to forge an emotional connection with vital audiences. Take the reader or listener on a journey. And help move them from one perspective… to a more rewarding destination. In this way, storytelling is a powerful tool for developing confidence in a building product brand. And its vision.
What’s more, stories facilitate brand recall. Notably, research by Stanford University shows that people are 63 percent more likely to remember a story than a statistic.
So, when discussing construction advantages and solutions, we recommend seeking opportunities to weave in a good yarn. Inspiring emotional connections can help to elevate a building product from a provider of mere features and benefits… to a highly differentiated brand promise. That engenders long-term preference. And affinity.
Make it visual
Ultimately, we seek audiences who will engage and interact with content. So, it’s important not to neglect the visuals.
High quality photography or video is critical. But so too is leveraging charts and graphs to illustrate data… to ensure that the message is more clearly compelling and understandable. In a study by Skyward, content with relevant photos or infographics saw a 94 percent increase in page views compared to content without images.
Visually engaging content remains in long-term memory better than text alone — transmitting messaging more effectively — which helps to improve comprehension. While triggering positive emotions.
Keep it coming
To optimize inbound marketing efforts, consider adding a subscription button to a brand’s digital destinations… and then deliver periodic — and highly relevant — content to subscribers.
Demonstrate a reason to “keep coming back for more” by ensuring that each blog, e-newsletter, e-blast and other content is particularly well targeted… and personal. Make a point to highlight the success that satisfied customers have achieved using your products and services. And demonstrate how your building product brand solves real, in-the-channel problems.
Always strive to provide information an audience can’t get… anywhere else.
Test and adapt
Constantly monitor inbound marketing results. And make gradual improvements. Differentiate components of every campaign, on an ongoing basis.
Measure how often content gets read and shared. Should a particular element decline in its effectiveness, re-group and invest efforts where momentum is driving better engagement. And when a strategy is working well, benchmark that success and apply a similar approach… across other aspects of the campaign.
Interested in exploring how inbound marketing can keep your brand in front of your target audiences throughout the sales funnel? Send an email to Steve Kleber at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and get the conversation started.