‘Inbound marketing’ or ‘inbound sales’ refers to when the buyer is the first to initiate a relationship with a supplier. Organizations try to make themselves known, whether through advertisements or word-of-mouth, and eventually customers become interested enough in their products to approach one of their salespeople. This first instance of contact could be a sale, or it could just be the customer giving the organization some of their information. A simple method for recalling this is if marketing were a mail room, the ‘inbound’ section would be full of letters from customers who want to order or know more about the products.
The first step for planning an effective inbound marketing campaign is to determine the target market. Unless your product is the first of its kind, it will have competitors that preceded it, which means a part of the total demand has already been satisfied. The target market then will likely be the total market for your product minus those have already bought from your competitors and are unlikely to switch.
Next, you need to choose a target audience. It is highly unlikely that you could find a way to communicate to your entire target market all at once, so any single inbound marketing campaign naturally must have a limited scope. The target audience is the largest amount of members from your target market you can hope to reach with a single advertisement, product placement, etc. A good place to start for defining a target audience is to brainstorm a customer profile, and then to imagine what form of media that theoretical customer would most likely be interested in. For example, if you sell clothes dryers and are targeting females who have small-to-medium incomes, you might want to place a banner ad on a blog that covers budget living.
ROI (return on investment) is important to track when launching inbound marketing campaigns, because if you don’t know how past efforts went you won’t know what not to do in the future. You can identify new sales generated by campaigns by embedding loyalty codes that signal which campaign the customer was attracted by. (This technique also can help you conduct A/B testing.) Since the goal differs for inbound marketing campaigns – some are intended to attract new customers, but others are designed to promote cross-selling, upselling, or both – different means of measuring success must be used.
You should run your online presence like you would an inbound marketing campaign. It should have a target market, a target audience, and a set of performance indicators you can track to make sure it is being improved. The reason for this is that your web content (website, social media, third-party reviews) may seem separated but in fact it all should be connected. Lack of consistency on message, visuals, and tone between digital media sources can cause your company to appear sloppy, and having your individual sites and social media profiles be linked goes a long way for your SEO.