Inbound marketing can be an effective and inexpensive approach to expanding your audience and customer base. While traditional marketing focuses on getting your message out through advertising in newspapers, magazines, or television, inbound marketing entices people to come to you.
Through creativity and community, you can develop loyal customers who will do the marketing legwork for you. With some basic research and the incorporation of simple changes into your overall marketing strategy, you can take your business to the next level.
Research Your Industry
Explore which strategies are effective for other businesses in your space. For example, if you’re part of a small law firm specializing in workman’s compensation claims, Google “workman’s compensation law firm websites” to get ideas. Examining Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn pages can really open your eyes to new perspectives and formatting techniques. Recently, a local deli asked customers to share their favorite sandwich ingredients on the deli’s Facebook page, and then named sandwiches containing those ingredients after the customers. Great ideas like this can be incorporated into your plan at little to no cost.
Your customers are your best source of ideas. Encourage and reward their constructive feedback. Ask them what specific things they like – or don’t like – about your business. Listen closely. By actively using customer feedback to change your strategies, you’re encouraging them to become more invested in your business. They will tell friends and family about their experiences. Appreciate them and reward them in some way, whether that’s through customer discounts or, in turn, promoting their businesses in a creative way.
Use Social Media Effectively
Make sure you’re engaged with your audience on a consistent basis to truly see the benefits. If you simply create a Facebook or Pinterest page without managing it, you’re not going to see results. Experiment with what works best for your audience and your interests. With a small fan base, you have the perfect opportunity to be creative and fun.
Social media is a great platform for displaying feedback from, and rewards for, your audience. If you run a tech company, ask what your audience’s favorite gadgets were in the past year. Food or clothing businesses can support their customers’ creations by asking for recipe posts or outfit designs. Your support of your audience’s creativity and passion is communicated through these online forums. Reward your audience with gift cards or other perks for participating in the community to show them that you appreciate and value their ongoing involvement.
Analyze Your Data
Many tools are available to analyze your web traffic and possible conversions. Most small businesses start with Google Analytics. It’s essentially free, and it can help you analyze your web traffic. You can then better target your intended audience. The key to improving your business is making sure you seize every opportunity you have to get your name out and establish yourself as part of an expanding and welcoming community. Consistent analysis of your promotions, media interaction, and traditional efforts is necessary to best reach your desired audience.
Inbound marketing gives you the opportunity to connect with your customers in a creative and entertaining way. Through research and feedback from your valued clients, you can design promotions, events, and social media groups that draw an even larger – and more loyal – customer base.
Barbara Fowler, Managing Director at Chief Outsiders, a provider of part-time marketing executives to help mid-sized businesses. Fowlers specialties lie in sales and marketing synchronization, global business strategies and family business turnaround techniques. A frequent speaker and writer on topics such as leadership, cultural diversity and developing an environment of success, she has effectively led culturally diverse organizations and written and implemented training programs for CMOs worldwide.