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  • Writer's pictureSarah Turnbull

What's Inbound Marketing?


A laptop on a desk with flowers and some magazines

Inbound marketing – also known as content marketing - is a powerful form of marketing that involves creating and sharing content online with the goal of attracting new customers and building relationships with existing ones.


But it can be taken so much further.

In this article, I’ll use the words inbound marketing and content marketing interchangeably.


Content can be in the form of blogs, videos, images, social media posts, webinars and more. It has the power to create awareness of your business, drive website traffic, generate leads and ultimately increase sales.


Inbound marketing is all about providing valuable, relevant and consistent content that appeals to your target audience. By regularly creating and sharing content, businesses can build trust and credibility with their audience. Consumers buy from businesses they know, like and trust.


To be successful with inbound marketing, businesses need to have a clear plan and strategy in place that outlines the goals, target audience, content topics and distribution channels. With the right strategy in place, content marketing can be an incredibly powerful tool for growing your business.


Go the extra mile... Answer your audience's questions


For me, inbound marketing is a fantastic way to educate your audience and really build know, like and trust. When it comes down to it, they use Google to find answers to their questions. When you provide those answers, you’re giving them what they want. And most of the time, your competitors probably aren’t.


When you’re looking to buy a product or service, what’s one of the first things you want to know? Cost. How much is that conservatory, for example, going to cost me?

If you, as a conservatory supplier or builder, give some idea of costs – maybe in the form of some case studies - you’re helping that person understand your service and costs and also you’re on the way to qualifying them as a potential client.


If you give a price of £15,000 but they only have a budget of £10,000, you’re saving both the client and yourself time. If they've got £10k and they don't want to borrow to pay for the build, they can't afford you. They qualify themselves out. Done.


But if you give a price of £15,000 and they have a budget of £20,000, they already know that you’re a supplier who ticks one of the first boxes. And an important one at that.


(You can, and should, tell prospects that there are variables that affect pricing and give some examples. Do it in a different post, build that content. You’re educating them and giving them the information they need to make a decision.)


Now, if your audience is given a price of £15,000, only has a has a budget of £10,000 but might consider finance as an option... if you educate them (in a different post, obviously!) on costs of financing the build, it's the information they need to work out if they can afford it. Boom, qualified back in because they've been educated.


And if they can’t, that’s it. That’s fine, they’re not the customer for you. But by providing all this information you’ve qualified them out of the funnel and that's good for both parties. It saves you both time, it saves you money and you've gained respect for being honest and transparent.


Tell them what they need to know. By doing this, you’ll build great credibility. By being honest, when the client has got the extra funds, they’ll probably come back to you first, because you gave them the answers they needed and they trust you.


You can also bet your bottom dollar that the vast majority of your competitors aren’t putting prices on their website OR educating their audience.


Your competitors will be 'scared' that by adding pricing to their website they’ll put customers off – or let their competitors know what their pricing is. But... you don’t want a customer that can’t afford your products or service, so educating your audience and occasionally putting them off is actually a positive.


And if your competitors know your pricing, so what? They'll probably be able to find out anyway if they try hard enough. Take your competitors out of the equation. They don't matter. Prospective customers do, so answer their questions and give them the info they're looking for.


This is just one example of the benefit of answering your audience’s questions. And there are dozens that they’ll have during the sales funnel - not just about cost. Think of all the questions you’ve ever been asked and create content in the form of blogs, videos and posts to answer them all.



Now, think about your own website for a minute...


As a service provider, do you give examples of pricing? No? And do you know what's happening?


You'll be getting visits because people want answers. But by not answering these questions, your visitors are likely to feel frustrated - 'I just want to know what the bloody price is!' - and leave your site. And when they find one of your competitors who's giving this information, that's it, you've probably lost them.


What should you write about?


Answer any questions they might have from a list you've formulated. Add to the list with every question you get asked and answer those questions too. Then, think about the 'experience.'


When you're creating content, tell them about the good, the bad and even the ugly.

If you’ve had a problem, tell them about it and how you resolved it. Talk about customer reviews. Tell them about things they should consider before getting in touch or making a purchase.


Tell them that sometimes you might NOT be the right supplier for them and the circumstances in which you’re not a good match and why. Talk about your services and services of your competitors – but NEVER criticise, that’s not a good look.

But mainly, think about the questions that you’re asked throughout the sales process, during onboarding and also post-sales. Answer them. Build a repository all things relating to your industry so that your business becomes the authority figure.


Because when you do this, where do you think Google is going to send them?


To you.



They Ask, You Answer


I can’t claim that this is my idea. It’s not…



Sarah curled up in a chair reading They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan

I’m a ‘student’ of the incredible marketeer, Marcus Sheridan. He’s an author and international speaker and his book, They Ask, You Answer goes into huge detail about how this methodology increases your visibility and drives traffic to your website.

Following this methodology, small companies have become industry leaders and authority figures because they’re providing incredibly valuable content and answering the questions that their audience is asking. And their competitors aren't.


Blogging


Blogging is a great way to start this process. You can link one blog to another to another (or multiple different posts from one blog, depending on the types of questions your audience is asking). You can take your audience on a journey. If you’ve got tools within your business, you can also track that journey.

For example, I’ve got a post about how much does it cost to write copy for a website. In it, I link to my pricing page.


Using this post as an example, with IP tracking tools, I can see that my audience has gone from this post (because I've added a link) to the website cost post, then on to my pricing page.


The very fact that they’ve gone on a bit of a journey tells me that there’s some interest. I’m giving the audience the information they need to make a decision and they’re following that route.


That's a very simple example, but it demonstrates the point. Intelligent linking within articles means that your audience can get all the information they need to make the decision to get in touch with your business. By providing them with this info, you'll be gaining a qualified lead.


Link from different articles into different pages - multiple sources to various destinations. Allow your audience to find what they're looking for from wherever they start their journey on your site.


Video and vlogging



Close up on a video camera with woman being filmed in the background

Once you've cracked blogging and you've started to get content on your site, a new phase is video content. Video is incredibly powerful and can be used for short snippets answering questions, introducing your audience to your team and business, embedding in blogs, client reviews and testimonials (after all, people trust people) and more. Video should definitely be a part of your inbound marketing strategy.


Not many of us love being on camera - I know I don't - but consider inventive ways to get your messaging across by using video. V-A-L-U-A-B-L-E!


In summary...


By providing answers to questions, you'll get a steady stream of traffic to your site. You'll increase sales and also be able to reduce outbound marketing and save money. #winwin


I'm being honest... it won't happen overnight. But with a strategy in place and regular content creation where you're answering the questions that your audience wants, you will see an increase in both your traffic and the esteem in which your audience holds you. They Ask, You Answer recommends 3 pieces of content a week - and this is a lot. Figure of what you can produce and who can produce it, and make sure you keep the flow of information constant. Google will LOVE you!


Oh, and I can't stress enough about the benefit of taking a few hours out of your life to read They Ask, You Answer – it’ll help you formulate a brilliant strategy for inbound marketing that will transform your business.


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