Know your market and know your positioning. These are tried and true commands in the world of email marketing, and they should be answered to before implementing any real strategized inbound marketing routines. What exactly is inbound marketing you ask? An idea originally branded by Boston-based HubSpot, inbound marketing is all about leveraging content in a way that generates activity, engages with audience online in an organic sense, and generates leads/sales using intent that is aligned to the benefits that your market most wants. It’s about pulling an audience toward you, so that they can educate themselves and build trust in and a relationship with you and your business. Before you create an inbound marketing strategy, you want to ask yourself those two key questions:
- Who is your market?
- What is your positioning?
Social MediaFor the most part, social media is going to be used to attract and educate those who are “somewhat interested” or “considering options”, as opposed to “ready to purchase”. The goal with social is to generate leads, bring them into your email list, and then convince and convert from there. Social media is a pull tactic, and a company’s related topics and content will more relate to a company’s product or service. Let’s take a look at a real-world example. Client Profile – eCommerce company that sells fitness products via email; they have tripled their revenue in the past few months, and are is looking for the know-how to collect more leads. Targeted Audience – At the moment, they’re working on a social regimen in addition to the traditional email stream. This client’s at-home workout products and content are geared, for the most part, towards a targeted audience based on market research. Through a lot of surveys and phone calls, they’ve learned that most of their clients are over 40, have a busy lifestyle, and want quick but effective work outs, without a gym membership. The client is building messages and content that are directly related to similar topics and content. Content Strategy Meets Routine and Regimen -They’ve found that Facebook and YouTube work particularly well, while Twitter is not as ideal for marketing this particular content. One of the first steps is to decide how often you’ll post content. The client plans to post lighter-level content 2 times a day in order to drive more prospects to their company’s blog (with the later goal of converting these prospects to become email subscribers). A similar video post will be done once a week via YouTube. When prospects are at the “somewhat interested” stage of the game – where they usually are in the social media world – we’re not talking about buying products; instead, we’re saying, “check out these workouts, here’s some alternatives to weight lifting that can get you a lean physique.” The posts should be educational in nature. When a prospect starts to “consider options”, they’ve reached a different point in the buyer’s journey, and this requires different content and a slightly different routine. This client has decided to post blogs once a day, with content that’s geared towards comparing body weight workouts and looking at alternative products and fitness routines. Again, at the “considering options” stage, the company is aiming to appeal to prospects thinking about which fitness regimen is right for them. This client came up with specific daily times for each type of category of posting – 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., they post targeted content for the “somewhat interested” group, and at 12 p.m. they post content for the “considering options” group. The important thing is that times stay consistent and are tracked in a spreadsheet or other database. The social content can be driving to a squeeze page, which would be more geared toward prospects who are “considering options”, or for a webinar or a free white paper, which leads directly to email. Most of the time, however, social media content will be geared towards leading the “somewhat interested” audience toward a company’s blog/video/audio content. The goal, of course, is to eventually build your solid organic presence that pulls in leads without paid advertising – and this strategy is one way to build your search traffic and authority.
Blog/video/audioYou want content on your blog that fits all 3 stages of the buyer’s journey. If content advertises your services on a proprietary blog, you won’t get the same sort of bite-back that you might get on social media. When considering content on blog page, ask yourself, what percentage of people who enter our company’s website from social media or otherwise are somewhat interested? Considering options? Ready to purchase? You will determine how often to create content in each of the 3 categories based on the answers. Most website traffic falls into the “somewhat interested” category. Going with the same fitness product marketing example, the client above posts blog content 2 times a week and posts a podcast once a week for its “somewhat interested” category. For its prospects in the “considering options” group, the client posts targeted content once a week. For its prospects in the “ready to purchase” category, it posts once a month. With this last category of customer, it helps to create and maintain a “small stable” of content that can be repurposed and used with a targeted email list every week.
- Another question to grow on – are you rotating the right message to the right groups? Look at your email list and figure out the percentage for each category of customer i.e. percentage in the “somewhat interested”, “considering options”, etc.. With newsletter emails, you will want to appeal to different groups. If you’ve segmented each group inside your email marketing system, then you’ve already made it easy to target those groups with individual messages. How often you send out an email to each group will depend on your list percentages.
- How often you create and send out content for each marketing domain – social media, blog/video/articles, and emails – also depends on your resources. Is it just you or do you have a team? If it’s just you, you might be skimping more on social and blogs, and you might want to consider hiring some bloggers or set aside more time to do these activities yourself. Also, take a look at the tools that you’re using; HootSuite, for example, is a useful one-stop-shop app for scheduling messages and content to various social media channels at once.
- Every company will have other variables to take into consideration. You want to think about your business and where your target audience is spending most of its time in terms of social platforms, and determine how much time will be spent on each to be worth the investment of time and money.
- Stay rigorous in tracking your inbound marketing routine and regimens. Set up and get used to keeping data in a spreadsheet with the day of the week; the particular social channel; and the number of times per week next to a checkbox for each channel. Once you come up with a basic regimen, stick with it. Of course you can – and should – be assessing the effectiveness and progress on a weekly or monthly basis, but you want to have a purposeful strategy for changing course.
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