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Elena Terenteva

The Art and Science of Inbound Marketing #semrushchat

Elena Terenteva
The Art and Science of Inbound Marketing #semrushchat

Over the past few years, inbound marketing has become increasingly important and has almost entirely overshadowed traditional outbound marketing techniques. We’re living in the age of globalization, the digital world, and voice search. This means that marketers who are devoted to the older methods should reconsider their strategy, and focus more on inbound marketing techniques.

This marketing niche is impressively large, comprising diverse methodologies and involving a wide range of promotion channels. One of the most interesting aspects is that inbound marketing is closely related to behavioral psychology. Marketers can develop strategies based on the behavior patterns of their customers. Learning what motivates your potential clients can help you build a successful promotional campaign. To discuss the art of inbound marketing, we invited to our SEMrush Chat Gianluca Fiorelli @gfiorelli1, international SEO and inbound strategist, as well as a founder of The Inbounder global conference.

First of all, we wanted to determine the distinct differences between these two types of marketing.

How is inbound marketing different from outbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is not just about trying to forcefully attract your audience’s attention. It can help you genuinely interest and delight your customers by creating valuable content and then sharing it with them.

"The biggest difference is being or not being in the context of what the Internet user is doing," as Gianluca Fiorelli @gfiorelli1 pointed out the major diffrence between these two types of marketing.

Outbound marketing is a traditional form of marketing, e.g., TV and radio commercials, tradeshows, and printed advertisements, which can be quite intrusive and annoying. Over time, these methods resulted in an increase in blocking techniques. And this is one of their major disadvantages. But inbound is the opposite, as Gianluca Fiorelli @gfiorelli1 continues on the topic: “In Inbound, the objective is being there when the user is searching for something and where he’s searching for something. Outbound, instead, is “interruption marketing”: think about spam email and  TV spots during a football match.” I can hardly imagine a person who would be glad to be interrupted during a game that involved their favorite team.

Push promotion can be even more aggressive, as marketers try to impose products or services on their customers. While pull promotion focuses on engaging and attracting an audience by using motivating factors and involving them in communication with a brand. Instead of annoying your customers and “pushing” your products on them, you should provide your clients with what they really need, as Andrew Dennis @AndrewDennis33 recommends: “Outbound equals disruption. Inbound is more about bringing customers to you by offering value to them.”

The thing is, in inbound marketing, you’re aiming at people who are already interested in the product you’re offering. As Amel Mehenaoui @amelm pointed out, it’s your audience’s own choice to visit you and buy your product: “Inbound Marketing is making your audience find you and come to you out of their own interest and choice.”

Instead of hard selling, inbound marketing techniques help you not only attract an audience, but also retain them, capturing their interest. “With inbound marketing, you are focused on the interests of your customers, while outbound marketing pushes products,” according to Express Writers @ExpWriters. And Hubspot explains inbound marketing as the best way of doing business online: “Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and your product, where they naturally want to be.”

The difference between inbound and outbound marketing

Summarizing, we can say that inbound engages and attracts, while outbound interrupts and forcefully pushes promotions.

A strong inbound marketing strategy

We figured out that we should delight and interest our audience by providing them with something valuable. But what should we do in order to create a successful inbound marketing campaign?

You should know your audience well in order to understand their major interests and develop a person-focused strategy. Also, Gianluca Fiorelli @gfiorelli1 suggested having a clear plan: “A “director plan”, which explains what all the “actors” involved (SEO, Social, Devs, Content Marketers) must do.”

Learn the needs of your audience in order to give them what they're truly craving, instead of annoyingly pushing something they may not even need. “Don't forget, the key to delivering the value inbound requires is actually knowing what your audience values/desires/needs,” Andrew Dennis @AndrewDennis33 said, and I can’t agree more.

Today there is a superfluity of content on the web. Nevertheless, not everything you see on the Internet is so great. You should develop a strong content strategy, so your visitors will value your posts, podcasts, infographics, and other types of content that you produce. Also, make sure that you provide updated content on a regular basis.

As many Chat participants already mentioned, marketers shouldn’t focus only on sales; this is one of the key points of inbound marketing. Don’t sell, try to engage and delight.

To sum up we can say:

The essentials of a strong inbound marketing strategy

This list includes many successful techniques that can help you develop a successful inbound marketing strategy. It would be difficult to say which one of them is the most important; you should pay attention to every aspect of your campaign.

How to use human behavior principles to drive traffic and conversions

Behavioral psychology is the science of interpreting our actions – why we behave one way and not other. Many marketers wonder whether or not it can be applied to marketing strategies, and some of them have already tried to incorporate it in their activities in order to drive traffic.

Neuromarketing is quite a new field of research that analyzes consumer behavior, using psychology, neurophysiology, and marketing. Its goal is to gather information about consumers’ preferences, based on their reactions to various events and things. And some marketers think that neuromarketing is the future.

Thanks to our Chat participants, we gathered a whole set of human  behavior principles that drive traffic and conversions!

Human behavior principles that drive traffic and conversions

In the next question, we decided to find some techniques that will help you generate leads – super-effectively!

How to create a killer lead magnet campaign

No doubt, we want to generate new leads and convert them into real customers. Our Chat participants shared their views on how to successfully accomplish this.

Even if it seems obvious, sometimes people forget about the simple things. “Understand visitor behavior – do they like your content? This seems like an obvious element, but so many miss the mark,” Gabriella Sannino @SEOcopy suggests.  Also, use social media, which can be very helpful: “SEO plus social (aka digital PR) for earning the collaboration of those who can effectively amplify your campaign,” as Gianluca Fiorelli @gfiorelli1 explains.

Our own Olga Andrienko @OlgaSEMrush suggested a sure-fire method: create an ebook. However, make sure it’s not just a basic ebook, but something more unique that can help you intrigue your audience and beat the competition in the age of abundant content. Go beyond the limits, as Express Writers @ExpWriters suggested: “You have to understand your customer and provide them with content they'll find valuable. Go above and beyond their expectations.”

Activities like Twitter chats are worth spending time on, because they provide you with educational opportunities. Engage in conversations with other chat participants, share your advice and collect tips from other experts. I’m sure you’ll find a great many useful thoughts that you can apply to your next marketing campaign.

You will not beat your competitors unless you focus your customers’ preferences. Give them what they really like and need, not what your company wants them to like. Here’s what Dawn Anderson @dawnieando also recommended, providing a link to a detailed explanation: “Identify micro-moments in users’ life/year/situation and meet their needs (that is all) – like this.”

I think that the next succinct answer can briefly summarize all the things that we’ve said so far:

Creating a killer lead magnet campaign

Now that we’ve learned the best techniques that will help you develop a strong inbound marketing campaign, let’s figure out what serious mistakes can marketers make.

The most common inbound marketing mistakes that marketers should avoid

The devil is in the details, so it’s OK to double check that you are moving in the right direction. Well, first of all, you need to be sure that you looking in the right direction in the first place.

A lot if participants agreed that the most common mistakes occur, one way or another, as a result of using the wrong content marketing strategy.

“First of all: don’t be fanatical about it. Secondly, don’t go on autopilot and create a ton of useless content. Remember what studies (Moz/Buzzsumo) say about the fallacy and non-effectiveness of 99 percent of content published every day,” as Gianluca Fiorelli ‏@gfiorelli1 suggests.

And we say “non-effective” content, we also mean promotional content: “Inbound is about informing and empowering, not forcing a hard sell,” says Kim Speier ‏@krspeier.

And, of course, there is no need to be too pushy. As Gianluca Fiorelli ‏@gfiorelli1 pointed out,  “bombarding users with email marketing campaigns or invasive pop-up forms  is going to transform Inbound marketing into masked outbound marketing.”

If the previous mistake we discussed happens as a result of self-admiration, the next one occurs due to superfluous self-confidence.

And if you run some tests, be sure that you do it properly: “Test your stuff on internal people first, and if they think it’s great, test again on your audience,” says Lisa Radin ‏@milguy23.

Well, these mistakes are much easier to fix than a miscount in your overall strategy.  Don’t concentrate on the wrong numbers:

Or making a mistake in setting priorities.

Gianluca Fiorelli ‏@gfiorelli1 also gave an example – “For instance, don’t go for the ebook lead generation tactic, if you need to improve your site authority and relevance”.

Most common inbound marketing mistakes

Finally, it was really interesting to learn how those who are involved in marketing see the future of inbound marketing.

What is the future of inbound marketing?

Pretty much all the trends pointed out by our participants fit Andrew Dennis ‏@AndrewDennis33’s statement: “I think tactics/strategies will continuously change and evolve with technology and human behavior. But the core of inbound (delivering value to your target audience) will remain the same. “

So let’s take a closer look at what will change and what will remain the same.

We all like to feel special, and, of course, there is no secret to this for marketers, so we were not surprised to see personalization among the trends predicted by our participants.

But it’s not going to work for every market: “I see many talking about personalization. It’s right , but only for western countries. It’s a no-no in China, for instance,”  explains Gianluca Fiorelli ‏@gfiorelli1.

Machine learning goes hand in hand with personalization.

Google’s personalized search, social connections, device we’re using for search and other elements are the upcoming nearest future, and hopefully it will open a lot of new opportunities for marketers.

But let’s go back to the more up-to-date trends.

And most of this time they spend on social media.

For example, “Facebook takes has taken over the inbound world with videos and especially video previews. Marketers should utilize these more,”  advises Olga Andrienko ‏@OlgaSEMrush.  

Marketers should focus their attention on video, as well as other interactive content.

And certainly marketers will move forward towards better management, which will allow them to be more flexible.

The future of inbound marketing

We would like to thank our special guest, inbound strategist Gianluca Fiorelli @gfiorelli1, and other Chat participants who made this chat interesting and productive!

That’s it for today!

Hope to see you next Wednesday!

Elena Terenteva, Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush.

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