Why Invest in Inbound marketing?

Businesses have been relying on traditional outbound marketing strategies for too long. An average person is continuously being bombarded with thousands of advertisements, emails, telemarketing, and many other outbound marketing tools. As a result people have come up with numerous ways to either block out or ignore outbound marketing strategies.

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is a new innovative marketing strategy used by online marketers to get across to the ‘tougher’ audiences. It focuses on the use of certain non traditional methods such as search marketing, content creation and social media marketing in order to attract visitors by addressing their interests. Inbound marketing can be easily monitored and attract high quality leads to boost sales.

Inbound marketing aims at creating marketing campaigns based on the consumer interests as opposed to traditional marketing strategies that aim at generating interest among consumers based on your campaigns.

Why not traditional marketing?

Traditional marketing involves the implementation of conventional marketing techniques such as email marketing, billboards and commercial advertisements. The conversion rate using traditional marketing techniques cannot be measured easily. Another huge disadvantage posed by traditional marketing strategies is its inability to target potential customers. As the ads are simply shown to a host of people, there is a good chance that your ads may go unnoticed or reach the wrong audience.

Why go inbound?

There is no doubting the fact that people are leading increasingly active online lives. We now rely more on Google, Yahoo or Bing to explore and get information about products.

So it is not surprising that marketers today are investing more money on advertising online. Inbound marketing is one way of reaching out to potential customers – it is a strategy where you try to be found when someone searches something related to you. It is much better than hurling an advertisement on somebody’s face. Marketers today are more interested in being found by their consumers and targeted prospects, rather than seeking out individuals who may not have a need for their products/services.

The internet is no longer a platform of monologues. Social media has transformed the internet into a platform for dialogue between businesses and customers. This is one of the main reasons to opt for inbound marketing rather than the traditional outbound marketing strategies. Inbound marketing helps marketers stumble upon customer interests and modify their marketing campaigns to cater to customer demands.

Testing Inbound Campaigns

With the advent of the internet and the widespread use of social media, inbound marketing has also evolved greatly, representing a fundamental change in the way people offer their products and services to the general public. For any business to succeed in the present environment, it must have a strong presence on the internet.

The amount of buying and selling on the internet is increasing all the time, so staying ahead of the competition is imperative. This brings us to the question: What are the components of a successful inbound marketing strategy? An even more important question in this regard is how you can test the effectiveness of inbound marketing strategies before you begin to invest in them?

Let’s begin with the first question. A great inbound marketing strategy involves utilization of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), press releases and social networking, as well as pay-per-click campaigns on the internet. Implementing an inbound marketing campaign is a daunting task because it depends on the nature of the product or service as well as the resources allocated for marketing.

Now, the second question. Of course, if you want to make an investment, you will first want to know how effective the inbound marketing strategies are. This can be achieved by determining the outcome of the marketing strategy. It is much easier to find out whether the strategy is being successful or not, rather than trying to delve into its mechanics. If the strategy is successful, it will translate into an increase in sales. If it is not, well it will also be visible. The gauge for measuring the success of any campaign is to find out its level of resonance with the consumer base.

There are some technical aspects of the strategy that you may also review in order to better understand its effectiveness. A great inbound marketing strategy is applied from the bottom up. If the website is built on shaky foundations, it will be next to impossible to be noticed by search engines. The inbound marketing strategy should be based on an in-depth awareness of the steps involved in the development of a profitable online presence. Furthermore, this knowledge must be implemented in a professional manner.

The SEO or the Search Engine optimization is the most important aspect of the website’s core. However, even a webpage with a great SEO design or code foundation may not be able to attract the kind of traffic that will translate into better profits due to its lack of the essential human touch. A good inbound marketing strategist understands the need for incorporating videos and animation in the website, and how they are able to sway a potential buyer.

An effective inbound marketing strategy is built around the idea of driving people towards your website. A good marketing strategy will enable you to review your website and come up with suggestions on how to make it more presentable. However, this is not all. You must also have a strong presence on social networking sites so that you can update existing, as well as potential customers about your products and services.

Testing the effectiveness of an inbound marketing strategy calls for reviewing its mechanics and watching the results it is generating in terms of enhanced sales and increasing profits. Only after going through this process, can you decide whether an investment is feasible or not.

Viral Ad “need to have’s’

Broadcasting a message through viral marketing is one of the most effective and widely accepted methods of marketing. Viral marketing involves the creation of unique and quality content that compels people to share it with others. Creating and executing a viral marketing campaign on the other hand is a very challenging task that requires a perfect plan and extensive research.

Here are a few pointers that can help with the creation and execution of a viral marketing campaign

Get an immediate reaction

A diplomatic stand is ideal to use in press releases and interviews, not in viral marketing campaigns. In order to make your content viral, you need to inspire and compel your audience to spreading your content. Viral marketing is all about having strong opinions that address the emotions of your audience. You cannot please everyone. You need to take a stance that gets an immediate reaction from people.

Come up with something out of the blue

People are bombarded with the same old monotonous ad campaigns and other marketing techniques on a daily basis. As a result, people have adapted themselves to tune out the commotion. Instead of trying to promote your product and showing people how cool it is, try something new like how you can use the product very usefully in unusual circumstances or situations.

Viral marketing is not about advertising alone

Everybody crafts unique and creative advertisements and yes some of them do go viral. But, viral marketing is not all about making creative advertisements. You should find newer and less explored avenues to create an interesting story.

Once more

“Once more” this is what your audience will be saying if your content goes viral. Creating a single piece of viral content is good but a series of content that goes viral is one of the best things that can happen. It also insists your audience to act instead of simply appreciating your content. Making sequels is a good idea to quickly gain brand recognition.

Sharing and Commenting

Sharing is caring and the same applies to your brand. Sharing is also the bread and butter of any viral marketing campaign. The easier it is to share your content, the greater is its impact on your campaign. Make sure that you content can be easily shared via email and social networks.

Another important aspect of viral marketing is commenting. Commenting helps you connect with your target audience and as always, a personal touch goes a long way in making any content go viral.

LinkedIn Marketing Strategy

LinkedIn Marketing has quickly gained center-stage as large numbers of businesses are realizing the value and potential that LinkedIn has to offer them. With a number of corporate and industry leaders, LinkedIn has gained prominence as one of the world’s largest social networks. In such a scenario, hesitation to cash in on the opportunity can cost your business valuable leverage when it comes to online marketing.

Brand awareness through LinkedIn

One of the most popular ways LinkedIn is being used is to generate brand awareness. In order to do this, first you need to establish your presence through a company page. You can then use this as a promoting machine where you can market, re-market, target and re-target your brand identity to people across the globe. You can also engage your audience and make sure that they keep returning to your content. When this happens, you will see that the customers will begin to associate your brand with your niche. This is possible because LinkedIn provides highly relevant content to an audience that is interested in your brand.

Advertising

Another popular marketing technique used mostly by B2B businesses is advertising on LinkedIn. Although the market for advertising on LinkedIn is still in its evolutionary stage, a large number of B2B businesses are leveraging it for job titles, and other marketing initiatives. Advertising on LinkedIn has been proven to be highly effective as it allows you to narrow your targets based on where your potential prospects are likely to spend most of their time on LinkedIn.

The Social Media Marketing Trends

As part of Internet marketing in general, trends in social media management are difficult to pin point. But there are some overarching trends that have survived and are still going strong this season. Some of these trends are mentioned below.

Focus on images

The meteoric rise of Pinterest is testimony to the fact that images are in. Pinterest is a content sharing service and a social network that allows users to make extensive use of images. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that after Pinterest’s latest round of funding netted the company $100 million, the company was valued at $1.5 billion. The popularity of Pinterest is a pretty good reason why other companies should place a premium on visual content. Facebook has already shifted to timeline. Humans process a lot of information visually and will respond to imagery in a positive way. Since people like images, social media websites have capitalized on it.

Going mobile

Nearly half of Facebook users log into their accounts using their mobile phones. Mobile internet users are going to overtake desktop internet users by 2015. And social media on mobile is still in its infancy. But mobile phone companies are coming up with better audio, video, location selection and third party application integration.

Social media websites embracing open platforms

When it comes to adding new users, Facebook has seen continued success while Google is moving at a snail’s pace. One reason is Facebook allows third party application providers to contribute to users experience. The result – consumers stay longer on such sites and engage more.

Crowdsourcing

Wired.com’s Jeff Howe defines crowdsourcing as outsourcing the creation of content to groups of people rather than tackling such tasks in-house. Sites such as Wikipedia, Tumblr and Pinterest are leading the pack here. People tend to trust their friends and relatives more than corporations who they perceive won’t give them bipartisan information. So everything from starting a new company to learning how to bake a cake can be accomplished through crowdsourcing. Online Video With the advent of faster internet connections such as 3G (and now 4G) and the proliferation of smart phones, video content is only going to become more popular. Some years ago, production of video was deemed to be expensive, but not anymore. Smart phones with share capabilities and HD technology have changed the rules of the game. Now we have budding entertainers, citizen journalists and YouTube campaigns.

The privacy vs. personalization debate

Social media sites and online retailers are mining information about us constantly. They are logging data such as our likes, dislikes and even the interests of people with whom we interact. The issue here is the breach of privacy that social media sites are being accused of. Government regulators have increased their scrutiny and users have become more sensitive. On the other hand, some social networking sites have gone public and their shareholders are demanding results. The pressure to collect information is only going to grow.

Top Tips For Effective Online Brand Management

Brand management plays a big part in achieving business success. It’s important with you internet marketing strategy, that your brand is always viewed in a positive way and it must not be associated with anything negative. Managing a brand does not have to be a difficult task. The following five tips highlight some simple techniques for effective brand management.

Be Consistent

The same logo or avatar and the same basic color scheme should be used in all marketing material, business communications, press releases and web content. Social media accounts should also be easily identifiable from the profile image and background.

Consistency also applies to quality and speed of responses to inquiries, complaints and requests for help. Politeness and clarity of language must be maintained at all times. All written communications must use correct spelling and grammar, with attention to detail. The same applies to blog posts and social media messages.

Deal With Negative Criticism

Customer reviews are not always kind to businesses and an unhappy customer might start posting negative things about your brand. Rants full of false accusations about the brand might appear in blogs, forums, social media feeds and on review sites. The worst thing you can do is to ignore these.

The way to deal with adverse criticism and misleading information is to add a polite comment saying that you are sorry that this person is not satisfied. It should be followed by a reasoned explanation or a request for them to contact you, so the situation can be resolved. Either way, your comment should put a positive spin on the situation by being genuine in your concern, and by highlighting the fact that good customer service is always your top priority.

Take Advantage of Testimonials

Unsolicited testimonials and recommendations can be used to endorse the brand, through links in social media, on a blog or quoted in a prominent part of the website. It’s polite to ask permission before publishing testimonials, or at least ask customers if they want their full name to appear at the end of a testimonial, or just their initials.

Support a Good Cause

Associating the brand with a good cause will help to maintain a positive image. This can be done through sponsorship, by featuring a charity appeal on your website or through involvement with a local fundraising event. You can also send out press releases, emails or information sheets about your company’s support, participation or involvement with the cause.

Show Business Credentials

Membership of a business organization, an alliance with an industry authority or any official recognition by a trade association should feature prominently on your website and promotional literature. Any awards or commendations from an institution or website should of course be given full publicity.

If the business is not associated with any official organization or industry awards, then efforts should be made to join, compete or gain some recognition from at least one business circle or trade organization.

Brand management is largely about building customer trust and maintaining a good reputation. It will therefore cover everything from the standard of business communication to the creation of positive associations.

Using Social Media For Market Research

The biggest benefit of using social media for market research is the speed in which an idea can be floated. Any social media network can be used for market research, including some of the lesser known niche networks, which can help a business to reach its target audience. For example there are social networks devoted entirely to fashion, to food and to other niche interests. Using Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn could bring in far more responses, even from a minority interest sector. These are the biggest and most widely used networks and are useful for local, national and global market research.

Asking Questions

The best type of question to ask in social media is one that can be given a quick answer. It should not be too lengthy or ask for too much information. It could be a quick question or a request for personal opinions. A link could lead to a survey page. An image posted in the message will help to attract attention. On Twitter, a question posted with an appropriate hashtag can bring in instant results. Paying for a promoted tweet could create a biggest response, but a good enough response can result from a tweet posted from a Twitter account with a lot of followers. Twitter followers can also be requested to retweet the question, so it can reach a wider audience. Just adding a simple “Please RT” can result in many more retweets. Facebook makes it easy for any business, company or brand to set up a page, which can then be used as a market research tool. An update posted on a Facebook page can feature a poll requiring a yes or no answer or giving multiple options. The results will be visible to everyone visiting that page, and people may add their own responses in the comments. Alternatively, an update on Facebook may just invite people to comment with their views about an idea for a particular type of product, a proposed event or some new sort of service. Anyone who uses LinkedIn for business should already belong to at least one group and can apply to join any suitable group for market research. LinkedIn groups do not welcome marketing messages or self-promotion, but questions are permitted in group discussions. The opening post in a LinkedIn discussion can ask group members what they think of an idea. A link in the post can lead to an image, a video or full description. An email address can also be given, inviting members to participate in some more detailed feedback.

Responses from Social Media

An effective question or compelling update can bring a great many instant responses. If there is a lack of response, or not many people responding, then another update can be posted, putting a slightly different angle on the question or requesting more feedback on the idea. The number of positive responses received should be enough to assess the viability of a new development, product or idea. When there are only negative responses, or a complete lack of response, the idea is obviously not going to fly. With billions of people networking every day, the fastest to get valuable feedback is by using social media for market research. It also saves a lot of money and can be done for little or no cos

What Is Market Segmentation And How Can It Boost Sales?

Market segmentation is a strategy that is used by businesses in order to identify different customers groups and the different needs of these customers. This allows the marketing techniques that are used for these customer groups to be targeted to their specific needs.

There are a number of different ways that customers are able to be classified and a business may use all of these or only a small number of them. Whichever methods are used a business will need to ensure that the customers that they have identified as belonging to each group have been classified correctly. This may involve ensuring that all customer information is up to date.

One example of market segregation is to categorize customers by location. This is a useful strategy for businesses that have a store that customers can visit. If they are having a sale in the store then they will need to target customers that live nearby and will be able to get to the store easily. In this case having the right information about customers is vital because if they have moved then the marketing may not be as effective. Other ways of segregating customers include classification by past purchases. This involves analyzing purchases that customers have made previously to identify new products that they may be interested in. If a group of customers have bought similar products in the past, then there is a good chance then they will be interested in the same sort of products in the future.

Market segmentation can help a business increase the amount of sales that it makes because it ensures that each target audience receives a marketing message that is specific to them. This means they will be receiving information about the products and services a company offers that will be of the most benefit to them and therefore these are more likely to be things that the person will purchase. Even if they are not ready to make a purchase yet, then the products that are being advertised may be something that they may need in the future.

Offering products that the business feels will be of benefit to customers shows that they are not just part of a blanket marketing effort and that they have been thought about as an individual. Reassuring customers in this way that they are valued by the business means that they are more likely to remain loyal to the business. This will lead to increased sales not only for the products that are being advertised in that marketing campaign, but also for future sales. This can be extended further by addressing all marketing communications to the customer by name, instead of using a generic greeting.

Marketing campaigns that are targeted to specific customers are often more successful and marketing segregation allows different groups of customers to be identified so that advertising for the most relevant products for them can be directed towards these customers. It also allows the effectiveness of the marketing campaign to be more closely monitored and the return on investment to be more accurately calculated.

Why Writing A Blog Is Good For Business

It’s important for people in business to understand the value of a blog. A blog is good for any type of business, from the newest small enterprise to an established company with a head office. There are many advantages to be gained, and nothing at all to lose, by writing a blog for your website.

Building a Brand

A well-established business can use a blog to increase its reputation. A small business or a new enterprise can build enough trust with a blog to establish its brand. The best way to write posts that will build a brand is to use a friendly informative style, and at the same time demonstrate inside knowledge and expertise.

Visitors to a blog should be able to find many different topics, all of them related somehow to the product or service provided by the business. Bloggers can offer good advice and share helpful tips. They can also feature useful links which bring up more information from authoritative websites.

Marketing on the Internet

Writing a blog is one of the most effective ways of marketing online. Users using search engines can easily find your blog posts, giving you the opportunity to reach a whole new audience through your writing.

Blog content is also easy to share through social media. In this day and age, a business should at least have its own account on Twitter or Facebook, to connect with customers, share blog content and hopefully gain more followers with each new post.

However, writing content for a blog should not sound like you are making an obvious sales pitch. It’s a much more subtle form of marketing.

Keeping Customers and Website Visitors Informed

Users of a website can be encouraged to visit a related blog where they will find up-to-date news about the business and its products. Customers and other visitors are more likely to subscribe to a blog that covers topics that are of particular interest to them.

Twitter and Facebook buttons can also be featured in the sidebar of a blog, as a way of inviting visitors to follow on Twitter or to like the business’s Facebook page.

Providing a Call To Action

The ultimate aim of using a blog for business is to increase profits. A blog can generate direct sales by featuring a call to action at the end of a post. This can be linked to a relevant sales page, information about your services or a contact form.

Increasing Interaction

Another great aspect to blogging is its interactive nature. Any visitor can easily add a personal point of view or ask a question, by using the comment box.

Ending each post with clear invitation to add a comment or a question, helps the blog to become an interactive resource. However, be careful to closely monitor all comments, to prevent spam, self-promotion and also to provide a speedy response.

A blog that allows interaction helps to build trust in a business and goes a long way to establishing a brand online. Writing a blog is a useful way to increase business potential, for marketing to the correct audience and for generating more sales.

Build Your Brand Through Word Of Mouth

Symbols are very important when you are marketing products. The word ‘brand’ is used to describe this process. Most of us see a logo and that tells about a product and about the quality and integrity of the company.

But there is another way to spread the word about your product or service and that is “Word of Mouth.” Here are some ways to get people to come to you through recommendations from friends, colleagues and neighbors.

Let people try your product for free

One of the best ways to generate word of mouth of branding is to give away a free sample. Having your picture or logo in a person’s home is one of the best ways to have your brand name go from house to house and mind to mind. Colorful and unusual shapes that draw attention stay in people’s memory best. In fact, the more unusual the shape or using eye catching colors, the more your brand sticks in a person’s mind and that’s the aim.

Provide Quality

This is especially true in the service industry. So, when you are doing anything, do it with quality and do more than others expect of you to.

If you do this long enough, people around you will talk about you and your products and services in a positive light, bringing in more business for you.

Focus on Contacting People

When you meet someone, you must stick in his or her mind. Get their name, business card, learn their name and pronounce it to get it right. You will stick in their mind as well. Then you must find a way to get them to associate your product with you. This then becomes a meme, an idea that like a virus and can spread from mind to mind.

Use the contact information you have acquired, and from time to time check in with them and see how they are doing. You don’t even have to mention your product any more. The attention and you remembering their name and a little bit about them will flatter people. This is one of the best ways to get your brand out there.

Julius Caesar knew every man in his army by name and this helped make him the Emperor of Rome.

Write a Book

Don’t get scared. You will be surprised how easy this really is. There are many books and courses that teach how to write an eBook in 10 days, 7 days or inside of a month.

We are not talking about the great American Novel here. We are talking about a 40 to 50–page book that talks about your services and products. If you get this done, you can have it printed off and use as a giveaway. This is a fabulous way to generate word of mouth branding.

Don’t Be Shy

In order to take advantage of word of mouth advertising and succeed at it, you need to get out there and interact with people. Talk to them, put yourself out there, offer a free product and spend time going the extra mile for your customers. You are selling more than your product or service, you are selling yourself and your brand and what better way than getting out there and meeting the customers face to face with a positive, outgoing attitude.