The Definitive Guide to Becoming an Inbound Expert

Dave KustinCo-founder, Content Bacon - Strategic Partner

The Answer You’ve Been Looking For

  • Inbound and outbound: are these just cool buzzwords made up to make us marketers sound cool?
  • Information consumption and shopping have changed, has your marketing?
  • We’ll guide to through a plan of action for kick ass content and what to track.

One of the questions we get asked here at ContentBacon quite often is “I’m already doing plenty of marketing, why do I need content?” Once we explain the benefits of inbound marketing, the next question is generally why inbound marketing is better than the strategies already in place.

If you can’t tell by our whole business model, we’re a tad partial to the complexities of inbound marketing over the simplicity of outbound. But, in all seriousness, everyone asks the same question. This is likely because they’ve been given the same answer over and over.

Outbound marketing

Most companies spend their marketing budget using a combination of outbound marketing techniques to reach potential buyers. This approach usually consists of direct mail, email blasts, TV, radio and print advertising, and trade shows (or expos).

As people have become more adept at filtering out unwanted information, these techniques have become less effective. We don’t answer the phone if we don’t recognize the number. We don’t open unsolicited emails. We stream our television experiences and pay upgrades to skip commercials.

Most of our mail (no, the real paper stuff you pull from the mailbox) is considered “junk mail” and goes right in the garbage without a glance. Consumers simply aren’t paying attention.

Inbound marketing

And then there is one of the great loves our lives: inbound marketing. Two key things have happened in the last decade that dramatically changed the way people shop and learn: Google and access to a high-speed internet connection.

Think about it. How many searches did you perform last week? One? Ten? Or, if you are like most people – including your customers – hundreds.

Here’s the thing: You have customers looking for you every day. The question then becomes, are you showing up? Are they finding you or your biggest competitor?

So how do you become an inbound marketer? How do you make sure you show up when and where you need to?

There are three key ways people find information using the internet:

  1. through a search engine like Google
  2. through the blogosphere (more than 100 million of them and growing)
  3. through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, reddit, and StumbleUpon, among others.

To be successful and grow your business and revenues, you must align how you market your products with how your prospects learn about and shop for your products. And, you do that by generating leads through inbound marketing.


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Where do you start?

What worked before in the offline world is no longer effective. You must learn new skills and become an inbound marketing expert if you want to compete and win today.

The good news is it doesn’t require you to have a huge budget, but it does require your participation. Use the next 30 days to evaluate your marketing efforts and notice how much of what you do is outbound marketing versus inbound marketing.

Consider these points has you move through your evaluation:

Shopping has changed … has your marketing?

  • Your customers use the internet to shop and gather information.
  • Your customers are searching for you every day. Do you show up?

Thanks to the internet and web-based tools and technologies such as blogs, YouTube videos, Podcasts, Facebook, Twitter, and other online platforms, companies have an unprecedented and enormous opportunity to engage with customers and prospects.

By producing great content, you attract customers to you instead of chasing after them. By producing really great stuff, they will share and disseminate your message for you.

How do you produce kickass content?

Focus on generating amazing content first. Many companies get caught up in trying to generate more traffic (more fans, more followers) instead of converting the traffic they have by providing them relevant, remarkable content.

Provide content that solves your customer’s problems or pain points. If you don’t know what those are, spend some time asking them. Or, talk to your sales and customer service team. They know.

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Don’t just think of content as the written word. Think variety. Here are some examples of types of content you can create:

    1. Blog articles: short, informal thoughts on topics related to your industry
    2. White papers: educational papers on a trend or challenge
    3. Videos: keep them short, less than three minutes
    4. Webinars: live or recorded presentations on a hot topic
    5. Podcasts: audio interviews with industry experts
    6. Webcasts: video shows viewed online

The great thing about these different types of content is they can be re-purposed multiple ways. A blog post can be a video which then turns into a webcast. A webcast can be turned into three to five short articles combined in an e-book. I bet you have plenty of content in your office or on your computer just dying to get out into the world and be seen by others.

These are the days where glitzy TV ads no longer win. We pay more attention to companies that tell a compelling story that resonates with their target audience.

Plan of Action

One of the things I love about digital marketing is the immediate gratification it provides. The internet is an amazing and responsive marketing testing ground.

You can take a great idea, and within 24 hours, test that idea using one of the digital tools available to you (i.e., main website, branded landing pages, blog, social media sites, discussion boards, etc.).

Each one of these tools has analytics associated with them. So you’ll want to capture a baseline so that you can determine your action created the results you wanted. The results can be anything from an increase in visitors and getting more “likes” to more shares and feedback.

Key performance indicators

Companies should review key analytics monthly, at the very least, and then use that information to drive actions. Here are some tips you can use immediately to begin measuring your efforts:

  1. Make sure you have Google Analytics (or at least some analytics package) set up for all your websites, blogs, landing pages, etc. It’s free, and it’s powerful.
  2. Understand and review these analytic terms:
    1. new versus returning visitors
    2. time on site
    3. bounce rate
    4. traffic sources
    5. most popular pages
    6. highest exit page
  3. Measure your social media using the following:
    1. audience (number of friends, fans, followers)
    2. referrals from social media to your website
    3. engagement – is your audience participating?
    4. leads/customers – are your social media visitors converting into a business lead or customer?
  4. Set up a Google Alert for key phrases or terms for your own company, your competition, and your industry.
  5. Experiment – use your digital marketing landscape to test an idea, a message, a new offer, or a hot topic in your industry right now. Continually analyze the results so you can constantly improve.

It’s important to realize that although we are using new terms that didn’t exist a decade ago, the underlying principles haven’t changed. It’s always been about:

  1. Showing up and being found
  2. Converting visitors into leads/customers
  3. Analyzing results to learn and constantly improve

The difference today is that there are new tools available that make it easier and quicker to apply those principles. So, what are you waiting for?