At its core, inbound marketing is about paying it forward with your prospects and customers. You have to give a little before you receive, and that giving can have more benefits than just generating leads. In the beginning, it’s tough to know where to start with creating, using and measuring offers. What should an offer look like? How can you use it to benefit your target market and your company, and how do you measure your success?
Creating Inbound Marketing Offers
Keep in mind a few key goals that your content needs to accomplish for your business. It needs to generate leads, it needs to be appealing to your target market and it should also make your business an authority on a topic.
Your inbound marketing offer needs to be able to convert prospects into customers. Naturally, not all people consuming your content are going to be in a phase primed for converting into buyers, but you should still set up the opportunity.
Think about what your audience values. Are you in an industry where your product or service is a commodity or highly competitive? If so, your audience may be in a comparison phase when looking for information online. Offer content that helps them make that decision on why your brand can help them.
You should also develop opportunities for prospects consuming your content to enter a conversion funnel. This could be a call-to-action at the end of a blog post with a link to a landing page, similar overlays in video content or links embedded in text content.
Catering to Your Market
In order to generate leads, people have to like your content. Building buyer personas or at least doing some basic research on your target market helps reveal the content they might be interested in. If you are trading ebooks or white papers for email addresses, you have to ensure the pieces you are producing are attracting the right people.
In general, you should be producing content that is genuinely helpful. Consumers can see right through content that was obviously produced with little to no effort. If they sense that you don’t really care about them, they will move on.
The content you produce should also build up the value of your brand and position it as an authority. People go online to look for content, and there is no shortage of junk out there. Savvy web surfers can tell in short order if a website just has a bunch of fluff and no real value.
If you plan to produce content like ebooks, blog posts, video, imagery or whatever, don’t do a half-baked job. You should set out with the goal of adding value to the world.
Using Inbound Marketing Offers
Once you’ve gotten past the hurdle of producing content, you have to put it into action. The best place to do this is on your website. By doing this, you can drive traffic to your domain, measure the success of your campaigns and control your messaging.
Placing Offers on Your Website
Your landing page is crucial for getting people to interact with your offer. If your process or layout is hard to use or ambiguous, people may not fill out a form to download your offer.
The content on your landing page should be highly relevant to your offer. This may sound obvious, but you would be surprised how marketers place irrelevant text all over their landing page. If you used an ad to drive people to your page, make sure the text in the ad is the same as the text on your page. Elements like your value proposition should also be consistent from where users discovered your offer to the landing page.
The landing page needs to be easy to use. Again, this may seem obvious, but in practice, marketers tend to forget about users’ time and threshold for nonsense. Only ask for essential information on an opt-in form, make your call-to-action clear and concise, have the action you want your visitors to perform above the fold of the page (the point at which you have to start scrolling to see more information), and take any other steps necessary to reduce distraction and anxiety.
Your Opt-in Form
This element deserves special attention. The point of an inbound marketing offer is primarily to get leads for a company. You are asking for a visitor’s information in exchange for some free piece of content. Be careful what information you ask for as well as how much information you ask for. Don’t ask for more information than your offer is worth. That means if your offer is not that compelling, you shouldn’t be asking for too much or people won’t feel their time is worth it.
Only ask for information you absolutely need. For example, name, email, role in a company, size of company, and goal-oriented questions may all be relevant to qualify a lead. Don’t add things just because you are curious, and avoid anything that doesn’t produce an added business value.
Inbound marketing involves the constant production of new content. That is really tedious and time-consuming work. Companies should repurpose their content whenever they have the chance. For instance, they might take old videos and transcribe them for use as blog posts or ebooks.
Ebooks not indexed in search engines might be repurposed as blog posts. Software previously used for free offers could become flagship services,
Measurement is a key part of any marketing initiative. There are marketing efforts that are time-tested, and then there are those that are seldom successful. It’s important to realize that not all initiatives are good for all businesses. While the basic concept of inbound can be applied virtually everywhere, the methods may not always be good for all companies. You will never know if something worked well or not if you don’t measure your activities.
You should use some sort of web analytics platform to measure your success (or failure) with an inbound marketing offer. The most popular one is Google Analytics, which is also free; however, there are several other platforms you can investigate as well.
You can customize tracking code to show you exactly how many visitors are completing your conversion funnel, how many abandon it and other important information.
Not all data for sales can be tracked online. With platforms like Google’s, you can enter arbitrary amounts for sales, but you won’t get an accurate number unless you are closely following people through the process of when they became a lead until they buy from you.
A customer record management program is a tool that you can use to do this. Once you have leads generated from your inbound marketing offer, you can put the data in a CRM of your choice and record things like how long it took them to buy, the products/services they ended up buying from you, and how much they spent.
With this data and data from your website, as well as recorded costs of making your inbound marketing offer, you can determine things like cost-per-lead and your return on investment for your efforts. Some good CRM programs you can check out include Zoho, Salesforce and OnContact.
Developing, implementing and measuring inbound marketing is an interactive process. Few people hit it out of the park the very first time. In fact, you may have to work for some time before you find content that really resonates with your target market and develop a process for changing leads into dollars.
Do you have any additional advice pertaining to creating inbound marketing offers? Tell us about it and join the conversation by leaving a comment below.