Imagine it's fall, and you're thinking about doing some landscaping to beautify your property (and perhaps add to its value). Like most consumers, you start your search on the internet. You type "fall landscaping" into Google. The first result you click on takes you to a not-so-bad website with some pretty pictures, a "services" list and contact information.
Nice, but not much help there. The second link is to an article, "How to Make the Most of the Fall Landscape Season" from a local landscaping company with the intriguing name, "The Garden Continuum". The blog gives you information you can use, things like the value of dividing your perennials, how to transplant shrubs, and the importance of weeding. It's not everything you need, but it's enough for you to think seriously about getting some help with your landscaping—and to provide your contact information to get future email updates from the business.
So, what just happened? Well, you the consumer just connected with a business you now trust because they helped you solve a problem. The landscaping company just got a new, qualified lead, someone who's more likely to buy their products and services because of the solution they provide.
That's a win-win scenario. And, that's the essence of inbound marketing.
For decades, consumers have been bombarded by intrusive advertising—over the phone, on their television sets, on billboards and in newspapers and magazines—about 4,000 ads every day, according to The Business Journals, and, frankly, they're tired of it. They're so tired of it that millions of them have registered on do-not-call lists to steer clear of annoying telemarketers. They're so frustrated they get TiVo to fast forward through TV commercials for products and services they don't want and don't need.
That frustration has substantially decreased the effectiveness of traditional advertising, so much so that forward leaning marketers have come up with a new approach. Instead of pushing salesy ads at consumers, these marketers pull them closer by offering useful, relevant content (like blogs, eBooks, how-to videos and podcasts, among others) that answers their questions and solves their problems.
Said differently, this new approach, "inbound marketing", works better because it builds trust by helping consumers before asking for their money. And because consumers are more trusting of businesses that leverage inbound principles, those companies make more money.
As HubSpot points out, inbound marketing works better than "outbound" marketing strategies because it offers consumers something for something—namely, value for trust and patronage:
"Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don't want, inbound marketing forms connections they're looking for and solves problems they already have…Inbound is a method of attracting, engaging, and delighting people to grow a business that provides value and builds trust…when good-for-the-customer means good-for-the-business, your company can grow better over the long term."
The answer, in two words, is remarkably effective. Over a wide range of marketing objectives, from lead generation to conversion rate optimization to increased return on investment (ROI), inbound when effectively leveraged can be a game changer for the businesses that embrace it.
If that sounds a little pie in the sky, consider for a moment the following inbound metrics from HubSpot:
It's one thing to talk about the effectiveness of inbound marketing—it's quite another to move inbound theory into practical applications through exemplary website design coupled with a smart content marketing strategy. That's precisely what the following 3 businesses did to achieve their top marketing goals and increase sales.
Here, then, are 3 examples of brilliant inbound marketing, and the reasons it worked for each of the companies that used it:
B2B businesses in the technology, SaaS and manufacturing sectors have a special challenge: the products and services they offer are typically complex and difficult to understand. To meet that challenge, these companies need to provide content that effectively educates prospective customers and does so in an engaging way.
BTG Labs, headquartered in Cincinnati, OH, offers "adhesion quality control" services for manufacturers who need help with adhesive bonding, painting and coating. That's admittedly a mouthful, a potential marketing boondoggle that screams for informative content that pulls prospective customers into their manufacturing solutions with smart inbound strategy.
To solve that problem, BTG on its home page provides a thoughtful description of its customers' pain points ("The Manufacturer's Dilemma") and invites them to take a test to see if their business has adhesion issues. To take the test, prospects provide their contact information (most importantly, their business email address). This so-called "gated content" marketing solution is ideal for lead generation because, if the content offered is sufficiently helpful, prospects will gladly provide contact information to get it—precisely how it worked for BTG.
BTG's blog, which encourages prospects to subscribe to their email series, offers a wealth of useful information (there are, for example, 171 blogs just on the adhesion process). Headlines like "Importance of Adhesion & Composites in Lightweighting Cars" and "How to Get Help Fixing Adhesion Problems in Manufacturing" ensure that every prospect will find something about which he wants to "read more", and in the process, ensure a steady stream of marketing qualified leads for BTG.
There are so many local landscaping companies in most communities that setting yours above the competition requires a customer-centric approach—one that places the prospective customers' needs and concerns squarely above self-flattering and sales-oriented copy. The Garden Continuum, a landscaping business located in Medfield, MA, makes crystal clear, from its home page to its blog and contact page, that its focus is on helping customers solve their landscaping problems.
The centerpiece of that strategy is a group of videos and blogs that show customers how to tackle a wide variety of landscaping projects. The goal of these is not, of course, to encourage prospects to do all the work themselves, but rather to show their expertise and trustworthiness.
That starts on the home page with a video, "A Life-Scape Defined," that, among other things, demonstrates the company's commitment to conservation and social responsibility. That video has received more than 1,000 views on YouTube, extending the company's reach through effective social media marketing. Other touches reinforce the message of company and consumer as partners. For example, their TGC Academy is a valuable training resource for both prospective customers and landscaping professionals.
When your business designs semiconductors, visitors to your website are going to want the opportunity to get into the weeds. Intrinsix, a semiconductor design business in Marlborough, MA, has solved that problem with a website that features user-friendly navigation, persuasive social proof (as in, "1,527 successful and completed projects") and a downloadable eBook (paraphrasing, how to assess a semiconductor design services provider, like theirs) right on its home page.
Like BTG, Intrinsix offers a lead generating email subscription option on its blog page. The blog, itself, would satisfy virtually any prospect who wants to take a deep dive into the world of semiconductor design, with for example 15 articles on ASIC design, 13 on SoC design, 5 on design verification and 4 on semiconductor IP.
What these 3 businesses have in common is an effective leveraging of inbound marketing best practices and strategy, one that includes a smart content strategy, customer-centric website design and the use of content to build trust and loyalty at each stage of the buyer's journey. They also share exemplary results in both lead generation and nurturing, and in increased ROI and sales.
As noted above, implementing a sound inbound marketing strategy can help your business achieve its principal marketing objectives and do so more cost effectively than traditional advertising. What's critically important for your business is not so much that you "do" inbound, but rather that you "do it right". That's where Bristol Strategy can help.
To learn more about the ways our inbound marketing, website design, demand generation, social media and inbound sales services can help you achieve your marketing goals and take your business to the next level, contact us today.