If your sales funnel is empty now, then it’s time to try inbound marketing like this for sales tomorrow

By Jim James,

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

Laura L. Bernhard, host of the Marketing Bound podcast and and expert at inbound marketing is here to share her expertise on how business owners and entrepreneurs can get noticed. To begin with, inbound marketing is a strategy to get an audience to come to you. It’s putting out free content that builds trust with an audience, because as they are searching for a solution to a problem that they experience on a daily basis, they stumble upon your content which helps them out. An example of helpful content, Laura shares, is googling something and one of the top results being a blog that’s a few years old. That’s the perfect example of an inbound marketing blog, because it’s still helpful and it’s still popping up, since it is useful. This is called evergreen content, because it is long-lasting and serves a purpose to the audience. 

Photo from LinkedIn

Why you should focus on your inbound marketing more than ads

A lot of people think that inbound marketing is very time-consuming, and there is some truth to that. It is a long-term strategy that one has to constantly put effort into. However, the long-term benefits outweigh all the time and effort spent on it. Experts actually say that it’s more cost-effective to be working on an inbound strategy than Facebook ads, a billboard, or a commercial. Although Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram marketing can also be considered inbound marketing since they are also non-destructive, when you speak about inbound marketing in terms of blogs, email nurturing, and social media, those have a longer life than a Facebook ad. Take, for instance, a magazine that you’re promoting. Once people flip through the magazine and see your ad, that’s it, and eventually, it will be thrown away. However, a blog stays on a website and on the internet forever. If that is a good piece of evergreen content, that will keep popping up on Google and it will keep working for you and for others.

In terms of the kind of content to create for inbound marketing, it depends on what’s best for the audience. If your audience is listening to podcasts, then that’s where you want to be. If your audience is watching videos, then that’s what you want to create. There is the luxury of having many options and then picking the most optimal one that’s going to reach the audience at the right time. This also applies to content scheduling; what’s best depends on the audience. Generally, it would be good to put out content on a weekly basis. Laura emphasizes ‘putting out content’ rather than ‘creating content,’ because of the belief that a strong inbound strategy requires batching one’s content. This means creating a handful of content all at once and then slowly releasing them throughout a period of time.

Finding the best content for your brand

Photo from MarTech Advisor

For the average business owner or entrepreneur who may not be confident in their writing skills, or prefers not to hire a freelance writer since it could take just as long to brief someone as it does to writing an article yourself, rethink the kind of content that you are producing. Maybe it would be better to do a podcast or video instead, and then later on turn it into a blog, an audiogram, or convert it into other types of media. This will still be helpful, and it is still considered inbound marketing. Now, to break through the content block many people experience, start with what the audience is asking and then address those questions. So then, when they are typing it into Google, you’re popping up. Getting into the workflow, once a great piece of content has been created and the next problem becomes figuring out how to turn this into different pieces of content and the process for that, for Laura, with her podcast, she uses Otter to transcribe it, Headliner to create audiograms, create short clips from the video of her podcast, and create captions for it. 

At every point in the visitor’s journey, you can identify what is actually going wrong. You may be getting people to a website, but then people are not converting on the website, and there a few why reasons why this is happening. First, the call to action may not be strong enough. The form or the text of the form may not be attractive enough, and this is something that can be corrected by using clear and compelling words, such as “Sign up to get free inbound marketing resources right to your inbox once a month.” That attracts people because it’s not often, it’s only monthly, and instead of people having to go to the website and reading blogs or listening to the podcast, it all gets sent straight to their inbox. If that’s something that is going to be helpful to them, they’re going to sign up for that. Having a lead magnet is another great way to get people to sign up to, for instance, your newsletter. Something like “Top Five Ways to put PR into your company tomorrow” could be the lead magnet, and then you say the only way that you can get this is if you sign up. So, having a lead magnet is one way to do it. 

How to get customers through the sales funnel

Photo from Audience Ops

Inbound marketing is on a journey to customer acquisition, but it definitely doesn’t end with someone subscribing to a newsletter. The goal is for them to move down the funnel, but with all the free content available on the internet, you have to give people a good enough reason to go down that funnel. Once people are signing up to get that lead magnet, the next step is converting them. If you’re not thinking about that, then your lead magnet is worthless. The whole point is to get your audience to engage with you. You want to build a community. You want people to get involved, and one effective method is directly asking the audience questions. For anyone that was wondering whether Facebook and having a Facebook group is a necessary part of the inbound marketing strategy, Laura is here to say that it is not. Finding an alternative to Facebook is easy as long as the goal of creating an engaged community is at the center of everything. It’s always about making sure that there is a dialogue with the audience.

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to content syndication, Social Pilot and Buffer are two platforms you can use. For her newsletter, Laura veers away from MailChimp and prefers Auto Pilot. Though this tool is not new, what Laura finds really useful is the good old Google Forms and Excel, because for her, it’s not about finding the fanciest, new tool. It’s about using what works, and these tools work well and are free. If you want to know more about Laura and the brand, you can visit her website. Don’t forget: there’s a need to create a lead magnet and a conversation with subscribers, and you communicate all that through inbound marketing.

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo from iSmart Communications

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