Marketing has always been about value. What do you need? What problem can we solve? What convenience can be realized through our products or services? These questions are valuable to your audience. Even luxury items are sold based on the idea of them being intrinsically valuable.
When the first automatic pop-up electric household toaster came out, well, there’s your value proposition right there in the description. That’s an easy sell for anyone who loved toast but hated having to flip or watch their bread to make sure it doesn’t burn. (And to be honest, I still accidentally burn my toast on occasion.)
When it comes to service-based businesses, they catered to customers in their local service areas by running ads for recognition, and garnered more business through positive word-of-mouth.
But the world is smaller today, and the competition exponentially bigger. Potential customers and clients buy globally and get services remotely. So how do you compete?
The way you compete hasn’t changed—it’s by providing value. And one powerful way to provide value is through inbound marketing.
Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness
Inbound marketing is all about attracting new customers by providing valuable information and experiences, while engaging and delighting current customers, as our partners at HubSpot put share:
- Attract: drawing in the right people with valuable content and conversations that establish you as a trusted advisor with whom they want to engage.
- Engage: presenting insights and solutions that align with their pain points and goals so they are more likely to buy from you.
- Delight: providing help and support to empower your customers to find success with their purchase.
As opposed to outbound marketing, which interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want—the modern day online equivalent of a cold sales call—inbound marketing gives people value to make them want to reach out to you, or the value to keep them delighted with their purchase.
“Wait, this sounds like content marketing,” you’re saying. Partly, yes. Content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing, but isn’t the whole kit and caboodle—just a piece of a larger strategy.
For example, ads, blogs and op-eds, social media, video, and content strategy are all content marketing. These are ways to provide value to customers by giving information they need in the area where you’re an authority.
A concept applicable here is one of the factors that Google uses to evaluate the overall quality of a webpage for its rankings. It’s called EAT: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. This acronym also applies to content marketing. Establishing yourself as a trusted authority and expert in your field attracts new and retains current customers.
Yet content isn’t the end of your inbound marketing strategy, or at least it shouldn’t be. It also fuels other inbound initiatives that can attract, engage and delight customers.
Attract, Engage, Delight
For instance, say your content marketing work has unveiled a question percolating amongst your target audience about whether an upfront cost for a product or service can result in long-term savings. What’s the return on this investment?
You can certainly write social media posts about it, maybe a blog or a paid advertorial highlighting relevant research. You could run ads highlighting a key selling point that addresses the question.
Or…you could use an interactive assessment tool like a calculator on your website, maybe embedded next your blog, that allows customers to put in their own numbers and see the math for themselves. If they put in their email address before using the tool, you can capture their information and now begin providing smart content to their inbox that you know is relevant to them.
For your existing customers, you can send them important updates, tips and tricks for their purchase via email. Conversational bots can quickly answer any frequently asked questions. Dynamic or adaptive content can change what people see on your website, in ads, or in emails depending on the interests or past behavior of the viewer. Custom content!
This is inbound marketing in action—forming connections with your audience and solving problems or answering questions they have. It starts with traditional content, but then expands to include more engagement. And when it’s done right, you can provide white glove service and value to your key audiences.