What is the point of Inbound Marketing?
In the post GDPR era inbound marketing has never had a clearer purpose. As many event businesses come to grips with the guidance and information pouring forth from the ICO office and the wide variety of advice on offer from so many experts proffering their take on the subject, there is still a need for marketers to generate sales leads for the sales team without being in breach of the GDPR.
So, for those unfamiliar with inbound marketing, it is a methodology of placing your brand, product service or company where it can be found by prospects seeking a solution to the particular problem they are facing at that moment. If we take the figures published by Fleishman Hillard that 89% of all purchases made start their journey with the opening of a web browser, it is immediately apparent as to where any sales lead generation programme needs to be focused.
Inbound marketing is firmly based upon the principle of providing information into the web and making sure that it can be found by prospects looking to resolve an issue they have in front of them. For example, it may be a brand looking for a company that can design and build an event presence for them, or an event organiser seeking a venue, or perhaps an exhibitor looking for furniture for their exhibition stand. Whatever the reason they may be searching the internet, the principles of inbound marketing suggest that if you are in a position to solve that issue, then you should be found by the prospect making the search.
Knowing what that prospect may be searching for is based upon detailed prospect analysis, in inbound terminology that would be the creation of buyer personas. These buyer personas help an organisation identify the potential problems encountered by a prospect and provide information and help to overcome these problems.
To be successful an inbound programme will use a number of tactics to reach the prospect, and the first of these is content marketing. Content marketing is not a new discipline, however, inbound marketing uses the value of the content being made available to prompt an exchange between the company and the prospect, they provide some data about themselves and in return, they get to access something of value. Content marketing also includes the fine art of blogging on a subject, something that will aid being found when the prospect searches and especially effective when used in topic clusters. Optimised well, these blog pages will appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) and so begins the buyer journey.
In a perfect world that would be all that an organisation would be required to do, however, in today's content rich and phenomenally productive world, the abundance of content available for a prospect to discover is vast. Event the very best optimisation will only go so far in getting your content discovered and acted upon.
At this point, we can add a little more fuel to the engine through social media marketing. A discipline in its own right, social media marketing can go beyond search engine results and, with the correct follower base, reach out to that audience and draw them to the content that has been created. This increases traffic to the content host, usually the website of the organisation, which will also help in SERP placing.
Social media has another advantage in terms of its effect on inbound, it is readily liked and shared amongst peers, this social amplification can have an exponential effect upon the reach of the piece of content. Which in turn may increase followers and so the circle expands and so will the number of leads generated in exchange for the valuable content. Social media is also a competent publisher of news and, as long as the entire stream is not filled with 'look at me' content, it is a great asset at putting the news directly in front of your target audience who, if they have engaged with your content marketing, will continue to build a relationship and engage further.
At this point there is a nice progression of activity, but where can pr fit into this sales machine?
PR builds trust and confidence. When news is reported in publications, via third party websites or news portals it is imbued with a certain authority. The news will have been read and judged by the editor that it is worthy of publishing and sharing with their audience, an audience that they will have carefully developed over time and who are the lifeblood of their news channel. Gaining coverage in an appropriate news channel is not to be underrated.
When sufficient coverage has been generated the readership will have formed an opinion, hopefully positive, so that when they find the content on an internet search or see a link in social media, they will be more inclined to engage.
PR also has the ability to change the nature of the debate, if there is a common but ineffective solution that has been used for years through habit or lack of choice, announcing a new solution via the news channels builds immediate interest and authority.
So, what's the point of inbound marketing? To deliver sales leads and build businesses. Why would you use social media and pr in the mix, to drive engagement and build authority. All of these are ingredients in a successful campaign.