It’s thought that many organisations spend up to 90% of their marketing budgets on outbound marketing, despite the fact that it’s difficult to track and gives less return than inbound marketing. Consumers have become increasingly resistant to outbound marketing, as they are exposed to it on a continuous basis.
In the modern digital world however, it’s vital for an organisation to use inbound marketing, if it wants to get ahead and compete. With that in mind, let’s have a look today at the key tactics and strategies that you’ll need to employ to ensure that you have inbound success.
#1: Bin the Banners?
It’s thought that 86% of people now ‘suffer’ from banner blindness, which simply means that they don’t take any notice of promotional information contained in internet advertising banners.
But does this mean that you should do away with using banner ads at all?
Not at all. Whilst it’s true that many people don’t click on banners, others still do, especially when retargeting is used. Banner ads should be approached strategically. It’s not enough to simply place them anywhere, they have to be placed on a site where it’s likely to reach your audience and it does of course also have to appeal to your potential customers.
The three most common mistakes found in banner advertising are, according to Selena Blue:
- The ad fails to attract attention – every element of the ad should be attractive to the user, including size, shape, colour and more. Use your branding and ensure that if you use techniques like motion, that the CTA and central message remains strong.
- The ad lacks value – in order to gain click throughs on the ad, it has to offer something of value to the potential customer. Ask yourself why the customer would click through, based on what you know about your target audience.
- The ad doesn’t ask for the click – consider carefully what elements such as the CTA button (which you can add, even if the entire graphic is actually clickable) says to the customer. Is it inviting? Does it give the customer the impression that clicking on the ad might be worthwhile?
It’s worth remembering that the text and graphical information contained in the banner should directly address your audience and a need that they might have. So do consider the copy carefully, as well as the placement of any pseudo-clickable areas.
Check out Selena’s article for a fuller explanation of how you can best craft a banner ad that drives traffic to your landing pages.
Banner ads do still have a place, but you should consider that overall, banner ads now have a click rate of less than .1%, so it’s unlikely to be the best way that you can spend your marketing budget.
As an inbound marketing technique, blogging should not be dismissed. For the busy marketing manager, it can be difficult to find the time, personnel and budget to upkeep a blog however and that’s why many don’t utilise it to its full potential.
A blog, when done correctly and well-written, can:
- Drive relevant traffic to your website
- Improve organic traffic
- Increase leads
- Build trust
- Feed social media
Your website will be crawled by the search engines more often as you post regular, fresh content and this will help the site’s online visibility. Further to this, a blog is a good chance to showcase industry and product expertise which in turn increases trusts and encourages followers to buy.
A good blog should inform and entertain. It’s very common to see businesses blog about themselves only – offering information on awards they’ve won, or why their products are great. This is the wrong way to go about blogging. Always posting purely self-promotional blogs will not help to increase trust and is likely to bore your audience. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever post a promotional blog, but they should be far less frequent than informational and educational blogs.
When it comes to who writes the blog, ideally, someone within your company should do this who has a good level of industry knowledge. Alternatively, you can hire a copywriter who specialises in your niche. Either way, the blog should be well written and well formatted to ensure that it’s fairly easy to read.
Remember, your blog has to cut through the rest of the ‘noise’ and stand out – that means it’s better to avoid 300-500 word ‘fluff’ pieces and really try and create content that is thoughtful and provides commentary on the industry that isn’t found all over the web.
When it comes to inbound marketing, strategy is everything. Despite this, in a survey 46% of executives said that they felt a “lack of effective strategy” was their biggest obstacle when it came to achieving their inbound goals. Planning and business go hand-in-hand. If you don’t first plan out a strategy and understand how this is tied to your goals, then how do you expect to achieve or even define those goals?
In order to come up with a sound, workable strategy, you will need to:
- Define your goals – for example, do you want your efforts to return X number of leads per month.
- Know your audience – you should develop and use buyer personas to understand who your audience is and where you will find them online. For example, it may be that the majority of your audience are Facebook users.
- Set up analytics – a large part of your strategy should lie in generating and using data to further understand how you can fine-tune the process to reach your audience and to remarket to them.
- Editorial calendar – this should be set up so that you can plan your blog and social media posts in advance, taking advantage of any holidays or dates where you can easily predict what your audience will be interested in.
- Promotions – will need to be planned in advance and campaigns set up, including keyword research and ad copy where necessary.
Ideally, your strategy should be documented so that everyone that works on inbound marketing and content creation has a central template to work from. Research has found that a documented strategy tends to make it easier for marketers to prove ROI. However, don’t make the document so complex that it turns people off referring to it. Keep it relatively simple and include other documents – such as buyer personas, style guides – separate or added an as appendix.
#4: Marketing Analytics
It’s important that your inbound marketing efforts are measurable if you’re to prove ROI and maintain a decent budget allocation. This means that it will be necessary to create reports that the company executives can refer to that show results. Further to this, analytics play a vital role in allowing you to tweak campaigns in order to improve results on an ongoing basis.
Rather than just use web analytics, Moz recommends that you use marketing analytics.
“Marketing analytics helps us see how everything plays off each other, and decide how we might want to invest moving forward. Re-prioritizing how you spend your time, how you build out your team, and the resources you invest in channels and efforts are critical steps to achieving marketing team success.”
So yes, of course you should measure and track web and social analytics, but you should also track metrics that “go beyond traditional website KPIs.” So think about who is engaging with your brand and how.
Image source: Moz
Consider what you can track across every single marketing activity that your brand participates in. This means if you hold a Twitter chat, then you should track the number of tweets and retweets made during the chat. Or if you send out a promotional email campaign, then you should track how many signups or sales were made off the back of it.
You should also look at how campaigns perform both in the short and long term too, so that you can get a more accurate overview on ROI.
It will also be necessary to perform competitive analysis to get a good overview on how others in your industry are likely to be performing when compared to your own brand. Social listening tools should be utilised so that you can pick up brand mentions and understand why these have occurred and from where. Marketing analysis is about analysing everything in order that you can further tweak your campaigns and understand where strengths and weaknesses lie and where improvements can be made.
#5: Mobile Advertising
The world has gone mobile. Most of you will already be aware of the necessity for having a responsive or adaptive website in the wake of Mobigeddon. So you’re aware that mobile is here to stay and that this means that we have to adapt our way of marketing online in order to reach all of our customers.
More people in the world now own a mobile phone than do a toothbrush. That means that if you dismiss mobile as a means of marketing, then you’re potentially missing out on a huge audience. Not everyone still accesses the net on a desktop PC anymore; increasingly, people are using smartphones and tablets to carry out all manner of entertainment and productivity tasks.
The mobile advertising market too is massive. It’s thought that in the US alone, by 2019 mobile will account for 72% of the digital ad spend. Further to this, by the same year, the mobile/desktop gap in spending will widen by over 40% (in favour of mobile). And by 2018, it’s expected that digital advertising will finally surpass TV advertising in terms of how much revenue is generated.
“The mobile advertising market took off even faster than we expected due to an increased uptake in smartphones and tablets, as well as the merger of consumer behaviors on computers and mobile devices. Growth in mobile advertising comes in part at the expense of print formats, especially local newspapers, which currently face much lower ad yields as a result of mobile publishing initiatives.”
However, there are many choices when it comes to mobile advertising and initially, this can be daunting.
Mobile ad formats include:
- Apps – develop your own app or advertise in another app
- Banner ads – tend to perform better on mobile than desktop
- Native ads – a study found that viewers looked at native ads 52% more often than they did banner ads
- SMS – these are strictly regulated and requires users to opt in
- MMS – uses rich media and is subject to the same regulation as SMS
- PPC – search engines allow you to craft ads that will be served on mobile devices
- Voice over – similar to a radio ad, this allows you to create a voice ad that will cut into the service that is active such as Spotify free version
- Video – short video ads (ideally around the length of a Vine) can be very effective
- Social – it’s worth singling social out from in-app advertising (although it’s really the same thing) as there is a huge audience at your fingertips
- Location based – you must take care when it comes to privacy and permissions with location-based ads, but it’s becoming more popular as companies such as Foursquare enter the fray.
So before embarking on a mobile ad campaign, it will be necessary to put in some research to see which format might best work for your brand.
Consider the Whole Picture
With inbound marketing, I consider it to be important to look at the whole picture and to approach it holistically. Successful inbound marketing rarely relies on one channel, and is always looking for innovative ways to improve and considers strategy to be at the heart of the discipline.
When done well, inbound marketing can be incredibly effective and rather than just send out messages to a somewhat disinterested audience – as outbound marketing does – allows a brand to build relationships that result in loyal customers, brand advocates and for the business itself, strong growth.