Small business need to get every dime out of their marketing budget. Larger companies have more leeway in their budgets but small business needs to squeeze everything they can.
Does the revolution in digital marketing help or hurt small business? The buying process has changed. Buyers use Google to research purchases before they even talk to a salesperson. This can help small business connect to potential customers.
A few years ago it was easier for larger companies to 'game' Google to get higher search rankings. Today Google has gotten much smarter and many of the black and white hat tactics used a few years ago are no longer effective.
Keywords and meta descriptions have less importance while links, on site experience and other signals have become more important. While Google does not admit to using social media signals some of the data suggests otherwise. According to Tim Soulo of Ahrefs.
A strong digital presence will make a small company look larger. A blog will make it look as if it has something to say. Content offers and calls to action converts visitors to leads. This was a philosophy I used to build'The Natural Dentist' brand. And that was at the dawn of the internet era. Today it is much easier to accomplish.
The growth of Wordpress has also made it easier for small businesses to create a big digital presence. Well designed websites can belie the size of the business behind the website.
For companies selling products Amazon has made retail distribution unnecessary. A huge advantage to a small company. I spent thousands on slotting fees which are paid to retailers to get new products on shelves. Today a good online store on Amazon is all you need to start. And Inbound marketing works great with ecommerce sites too.
Here are my top 5 reasons why inbound marketing for small business is awesome.
1) Cost- Inbound marketing costs much less than typical outbound advertising. It takes time to develop the right content for your potential customers but it lets your knowledge and passion for a product or service come through.
2) Return on Investment (ROI) This is my favorite reason why I like inbound marketing so much. It is actually possible to accurately measure ROI. It is very difficult to measure outbound marketing's ROI, but with inbound you know exactly how many clicked on each element of your campaign. This allows you to always be optimizing.
3) Multi-channel Inbound marketing uses all of the digital tools. SEO, blogging, social media, email marketing are all used during an inbound marketig campaign
4) Instant Analytics The definition of inbound staes with 'A data driven approach' and for stat geeks inbound is perfect. Even if your not it is not hard to tell what is working. There are tools and dashboards that allow you to measure the effectiveness of each element of your inbound marketing campaign. This allows you to see what your potential customers are reacting to an optimize it.
5) Inbound marketing works for any type of business. Whether it is b2b, b2c, non-profit, product or service, inbound marketing works for any small business. (A restaurant may be the only exception.)
Inbound Marketing 101
This is the first in a series of posts designed to show you how to design and execute an inbound marketing campaign for your small business. If you are a passionate entrepreneur and enjoy talking about your business you will love inbound marketing.
Here is how Hubspot defines inbound marketing "Inbound Marketing is a holistic, data-driven approach to marketing that attracts individuals to your brand and converts them into lasting customers."
One reason why inbound marketing works is that the old marketing playbook is broken. People are tuning out traditional marketing by blocking ads and calls, and installing spam and ad blockers. It is getting harder and more expensive to deliver an outbound marketing message.
Inbound marketing on the other hand attracts people to your website by offering something of value, usually some content around your product or service. The key difference is that they are coming to you so they are open to your topics and ideas. Inbound marketing is marketing people love and don't block.
Awareness, Consideration and Decision
One of the central concepts of inbound marketing is that people that come to you are at different stages of their 'buyers journey'. That path consists of 3 stages, Awareness, Consideration and Decision. Inbound marketing helps you recognize which stage your potential is in and what content you need to serve them to keep them moving through their decision process.
4 Stages of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing has 4 distinct phases or stages that recognizes where the buyer is in their journey. This chart shows these phases and the tools used in each one of them.
We will talk about each in detail in future posts so I will summarize them here.
1) Attract stage-Attracting visitors to your site by offering help to them to solve problems or overcome obstacles.
2) Convert stage- Convert those visitors into qualified leads for your business.
3) Close stage- Nurture those leads into customers.
4) Delight stage- Turn happy customers into advocates for your products or services
Inbound marketing uses all of the digital marketing tools throughout these 4 stages.
Inbound Marketing Tools
Inbound uses all of the digital marketing tools, in an integrated fashion. Nothing is done in a silo. everything is related to something else. The activity is designed to move the potential client or customer along the buyers journey and help them decide on you. Don't leave anything out. It will affect your campaign. We'll address each one as we go through the stages.
Blogging, Social Media, SEO, Email marketing, Conversion path are all important tools in the inbound marketers toolkit.
One key part of inbound marketing for small business is to develop the right content for your target audience. This content should let your knowledge and passion for your business show through clearly.
Inbound marketing takes time. It takes time to execute and it takes time for it to start working. It also helps to have some tools to help you integrate all of your efforts and to analyze your results. Inbound marketers live by the mantra "always be optimizing". In a future post we will cover some of the tools available to help with this part. There are some great platforms available like Hubspot but they are not necessary to execute an inbound campaign.
The next post in this series will cover planning and goal setting and why it is so important to inbound marketing. Additional posts will cover each stages of inbound marketing and will offer an ebook or templates to help you with your inbound campaign.
There are 2 ebooks available with this post '5 Top Reasons Inbound Marketing for Small Business is Awesome' and 'The Future of Marketing' You
can Download them by clicking on the picture below