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Jonathan Wickham

What’s Inbound Marketing?

Jonathan Wickham
What’s Inbound Marketing?

Have you ever had an interview that was really uncomfortable? You know, the interview during which everyone fired questions at you and watched with blank expressions as you squirmed in your seat. The interview where it wasn’t just your suit that was making you sweat and you couldn’t wait to get away.

On the flip side, have you ever had an interview that went just swimmingly? The interview where you walked in the room and instantly relaxed because everyone smiled and joked with you. The interview that felt less like a grueling Q&A and more like a good conversation. The interview that left you hoping you would have the opportunity to work such a great bunch of people.

We can look at marketing approaches much the same way. Traditional marketing is a bit like the first interview experience. Whether it comes in the form of unwanted fliers bulking up your mail boxes (and trash cans), or loud, obnoxious radio advertisements, traditional marketing tends to be off-putting and makes the majority of people uncomfortable.

Inbound marketing is a lot like the second interview scenario. Compelling content and useful information allow people to connect with your company and take an interest in developing a relationship with your brand. It draws people in, rather than getting in their faces. Inbound marketing opens the door for businesses to engage and have a conversation with customers.

What Do Your Inbound Marketing Efforts Look Like?

Once companies catch onto the vision of inbound marketing (or see the rewards their competitors are reaping as a result of it), they are often confused about how turn the concept into a reality.

“I have a good website with great web copy and I post to the company blog every other week, but I haven’t seen the results you’re talking about.”

Sound familiar? If this reminds you of something you would say, it’s because there’s a lot more to inbound marketing than you realize.

Inbound marketing requires staying power and dedication and should be treated as an in-depth, ongoing campaign. There are many different components of inbound marketing. What works well for one business may not work as well for another.

Inbound Marketing Team Checklist

We’re not here to pull the wool over your eyes. In all honesty, it takes time and effort to figure out the best inbound marketing “angle” for your company. It also takes as a whole lot of expertise in order to know what type of content will be most suitable for your company’s goals.

What qualities and abilities should individuals have in order to carry out a rock-star inbound marketing campaign? Who will take your company to the next level?

Your check-list for a solid inbound marketing team should consist of these four bullet points:

1. Strong Inbound Marketing Track Record

Tried and proven experience is essential. Your marketing team needs to have a solid grasp of how inbound marketing works and should be able to prescribe the best inbound marketing methods to your company.

Simply asking your current marketing team to research inbound marketing in their spare time isn’t enough. They need to know how to analyze your business’s needs and be able to draft a solid inbound marketing plan that will bring your company results. They should have a portfolio filled with inbound marketing success stories.

You don’t have the time and money to waste on a campaign lead by people with little to no inbound marketing experience. You need positive results from the get-go.

2. Current with Trends

In this day of rapid technology and online evolution, trends are often “out” before you realized they were “in.” This is transforming marketing from an environment of artsy creative types into a world of internet scientists.

If your marketers are not prepared to/do not know how/do not have time to stay on top of trends, it will hurt your business considerably and you will fall way behind.

Here are some areas marketers CANNOT afford to fall behind on:

  • Consumer interests and decisions
  • Social media evolution
  • Search engine algorithms
  • SEO changes
  • Web design and user interface trends

3. Special Expertise

Besides knowing what inbound marketing is all about and how to stay ahead of the game, there are some essentials your inbound marketers should possess:

  • Coding Skills: Inbound marketers need to know how to publish content on content management systems, email marketing platforms, and social media channels. As such, marketers need to know HTML and CSS. JavaScript and PHP are really beneficial to know as well.
  • Marketing Automation Know-how: Inbound marketers ought to know how to implement marketing automation software such as HubSpot or Infusionsoft. This truly is essential to streamlining your inbound marketing campaign.
  • Design Background: Having a strong eye for design is essential. Even the best copy in the world will be overlooked if it’s not in a format that is appealing and optimized for all digital devices. Your inbound marketers don’t have to be award-winning designers, but they should be able to recognize and appreciate good design.
  • Ability to Strategize: Your inbound marketers need to be able to come up with a sound strategy to help your company achieve its goals. Not knowing which direction to take your inbound marketing campaign will set you up for failure.

4. Rock Star Content Creators

Inbound marketing is often referred to as “content” marketing. As such, you cannot execute a successful content marketing campaign without frequently produced, high-quality and engaging content. That means your inbound marketers need to create content that is:

  • accessible and appealing to the audience,
  • grammatically sound,
  • filled with enticing titles and subtitles,
  • formatted for easy scanning,
  • shareable, and
  • unforgettable

Remember, just as amazing content will help you, so will poor or mediocre content hurt you. If your customer reads poorly written content, not only will they walk away, but they will not return.

In this day and age, your customers have come to expect quality information; they won’t pardon anything less.

Jonathan Wickham has been in the online marketing industry for over 7 years. He is the current CEO of Digital Flavor Enterprises. DF was called one of the top 3 fastest growing inbound marketing agencies at the Portland IMA Conference in 2014. You can read this page for more about the Digital Flavor’s marketing philosophy. His last article for SEMrush was "How My Startup Became a Contender in the First 6 Months."

Comments

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Mustafa Gaziani
Mustafa Gaziani
Hey Jonathan,

Great work. Amazing post regarding inbound marketing.
Thanks for sharing.
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