In April 2020, about 4.5 billion people used the internet. That’s 59% of the global population. (Statista) With so many people spending time online, brands have learned they must use an integrated marketing strategy to align their brand messaging across all inbound marketing channels.
Think about your online behavior. Daily, you search for products and services, use social media, read website and email content by media outlets and brands, check reviews before making a purchase, and listen to podcasts either for education or entertainment. Inbound marketing enables companies to reach a highly-targeted audience using the right channels with the right content at the right time. It is the marketing method of choice for local businesses and global brands alike.
Below, you'll find answers to these frequently asked questions about inbound marketing channels used in an integrated marketing strategy.
Consumers and B2B customers use the internet to search for answers to their problems, to find solutions to improve their lives or be more effective in their work. Inbound marketing helps brands become the trusted source of information to help customers achieve their goals. By using inbound marketing channels, brands attract the right audience with relevant content, nurture the relationship by continuing to add value and convert them into customers when the time is right for them to purchase.
Based on the preferences of your buyers, use the channels that are most used by your customers. Go where your audience is. Effective inbound marketing channels to reach your buyers may include:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of coding and structuring the data on your website to help inform search engines about each page on your site and how it may be useful for searchers and visitors. The goal of SEO is to generate organic traffic from search engines.
SEO works in inbound marketing by informing the search engines that your web content answers searchers’ questions and should be shown in the search engine results page. SEO is critical to inbound marketing because it helps attract relevant searchers to your content.
The purpose of quality content on your website is twofold. 1) Your content educates and informs your website visitors, letting them know how you solve their problems, how you are an authority on the subject matter, and why they should engage in a relationship with your brand. 2) Search engines crawl your website and determine whether or not it meets the needs of searchers. They must have content to crawl - content structured in a way that is easy for crawlers to index and organize.
The main types of content on your website are:
Having a blog is essential for inbound marketing. If you want searchers to find your company online, one of the best ways is to publish valuable content that answers their questions and solves their problems. A blog expands your reach and brand visibility by giving search engines content they can index and serve to searchers.
HubSpot found that companies that blog have:
Video is a powerful inbound marketing channel that helps businesses attract buyers and convert them to customers. According to Forbes, “59% of executives said they would rather watch video than read text.” 50% of executives also stated that they look for more information after seeing a product/service video. (Insivia)
Demonstrating your product or service on your website helps customers understand what you offer and how it benefits them. Video is easy to use in a multi-channel marketing strategy; each video can be published on many channels. Embed video in your blog articles, publish them on YouTube, and post them on social media. YouTube videos are also featured on Google search results, giving you extra bang for your marketing buck.
Social media platforms are one of the best inbound marketing channels B2B and B2C companies can use to reach their target audience. They expand your brand visibility and reach, helping you build community with your followers. Social media enables companies to build brand equity and grow their following on the recommendation of others and via likes, comments, and shares.
The key is to determine the social channels your audience uses and the types of content they like to consume on those channels. For B2B companies, LinkedIn may be the place to focus your attention, with its 200 million monthly users. For B2C companies, Twitter has 1.3 billion registered users. With the right content and hashtags, you’re sure to reach your target audience there. For local businesses, Facebook may be the best place to attract a geographically-targeted following. Research on your buyer persona and monitoring of your social media accounts will help you determine the best channels to use.
Landing pages serve a specific purpose in inbound marketing as a conversion point. The goal of a landing page is to offer the opportunity to download valuable content in exchange for your visitor’s contact information. Once they fill out the form and consent to receive marketing emails, they become a Marketing Qualified Lead. You will nurture these leads and direct them down your sales funnel via email marketing.
Learn how to Create Better Landing Pages.
Email marketing allows you to build one-on-one relationships with your subscribers, potential buyers, and customers. Unlike your social media accounts, email marketing is a channel you own. You own your lists of subscribers, contacts, and leads. You are in a prime position to communicate directly with those people who have trusted you enough to give you their contact information.
It’s not a relationship to be taken lightly, however. You owe it to your leads to send out personalized content that adds value to their lives. They may not be ready to make a purchase when they first subscribe to your content. Still, with time and helpful content that addresses their needs, you’ll be developing a relationship that will keep you top of mind when they are ready to purchase or renew their subscription to your product.
Yes, reviews are an effective inbound marketing channel. Today’s consumers are educating themselves before they visit local businesses, make an online purchase, or reach out to a sales rep. Consumers who read reviews are close to making a purchase – they’re evaluating their options, deciding whether or not they can trust a business.
According to a BrightLocal survey, 82% of local search users read online reviews to help them make a purchasing decision, and 89% of consumers age 35-54 trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Small and medium-sized businesses should leverage reviews sites like Yelp, Facebook, Google, and the Better Business Bureau to build up their reputation with consumers. SaaS companies can attract leads who are in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey by having profiles on sites like G2, Capterra, and TrustRadius.
Be sure to feature reviews and testimonials on your website, as well. This form of social proof is invaluable in helping your buyers decide to purchase from you. You can even add Google reviews to your website. CWS explains how.
Press releases are essential in telling your brand story. They help promote your company's news, innovations, and growth. PR on a trusted third-party site positions you as an industry leader, which helps you attract customers. Press releases are also good for SEO, driving traffic to your website from high-authority sites.
Newsworthy PR pieces are often shared on social channels, expanding your reach to a broader audience. They can also be emailed to your leads and repurposed into blog articles, giving you added ROI on the time you spend writing them. A great way to extend the value of a PR piece is to include quotes from company leaders or statistics on the state of the industry. Journalists and writers are always looking for quotable content to include in their pieces, and you may earn backlinks to your press releases.
If it seems like new podcasts are popping up every week, you’re right. Companies are taking advantage of the podcast trend to reach their target audience. According to Statista, there were 88 million podcast listeners in the US in 2019. That number is forecast to surpass 160 million by 2023.
Podcasthosting.org found that as of July 2020, there are more than 1 million podcasts. While the most popular podcasts are in the comedy, news, and education genres, the number of business-related podcasts is growing. 70-72% of business owners with 100-500 employees listen to podcasts. Marketers realize the potential to tap into the content preferences of their target buyers.
Podcasts help businesses achieve their inbound marketing goals by attracting niche audiences who fit their buyer persona. Podcasts enable companies to produce and publish content that speaks to the specific needs and problems of their buyers. Particularly in the B2B space, listeners tune in to hear how others in similar roles solve day-to-day operational and leadership issues. A podcast enables organizations to position themselves as thought leaders in their industry by hosting interviews with other industry thought leaders.
The best channel for you depends on your audience – where they like to consume content, what social media channels they prefer, and what type of media they engage with most. You will likely find that a multi-channel approach is best. To determine the right channel for your business, first set your marketing goals, or KPIs, and then use Google Analytics to measure the performance of different channels to see what’s working best for you. Over time, you’ll notice trends in your performance in search and on your social channels.
Developing an integrated marketing strategy that leverages the right inbound marketing channels can be a challenge. There are many inbound marketing tools you can use to determine the right channels for your audience. Knowing which channels will work best for your inbound marketing strategy and where to spend your marketing budget takes expert guidance. At SMA Marketing, we help businesses like yours determine the marketing channels that will yield the highest growth. Our team of experts will guide your marketing for increased visibility across your digital channels. Contact us today to learn how we can help.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.