The Minimalist Guide to Inbound Marketing
Mar 31, 2014 11:54 AM PT
Inbound marketing is an essential part of an online brand promotion strategy. It lets you target your audience directly and draw them in.
Inbound marketing is the process of getting customers to come to your store before you try to sell them anything. Inbound marketing for e-commerce is no different. Give customers a reason to come to your site, and they are likely to return when they are ready to buy. The process of inbound marketing is relatively simple:
- Attract potential customers to your store or site;
- Convert potential customers into solid sales leads;
- Close the sale; and
- Delight the customer with the quality of your product or service.
One of the best ways to accomplish inbound marketing in the e-commerce setting is to write content designed to bring customers to your e-commerce site. Customers usually find your site by searching on the Internet, so design your content to help them find you. Make it easy.
Social media is a natural starting point for inbound marketing. Most businesses already have a Facebook presence. If your e-commerce business does not have a Facebook account, sign up for one now. Once your business is on Facebook, start by "friend" requesting all your customers, friends and relatives. At least a few of them will become followers of your business.
Next, provide them with a service: a piece of useful information, a funny story, an interesting photo or a Facebook-only promotion. Whatever you do, you should be communicating around three to four times per week. If you inundate your followers with posts, they will soon be tempted to "unfriend" or "unlike" you.
A social media presence is essential to your inbound strategy, but the networks you use aren't as important as how you use them. It's an opportunity to connect with your audience. Respond to their comments, answer their questions, and take their suggestions. It builds trust and shows that you genuinely care about who they are and what they want.
Start a Blog
Blogging is a popular method of inbound marketing. Writing a blog is a good, nonthreatening way to address your customers. Do not be tempted to write exclusively about your sales promotions. Your customers will quickly grow bored.
Write about topics that are interesting to your potential customers, or topics related to the products and services you offer. Whatever you write, be sure to include keywords that potential customers might be typing into a search engine, when you can do so without being obtrusive.
Blogging is the most basic form of online content. There are dozens of sites that will host your blog for free, or you can invest in a more professional one on your own domain.
Blog about the things that matter in your industry. The keys to making your posts effective are quality and frequency. If you can build the audience's anticipation for your next blog post, it will cement your brand in their minds.
One of the hallmarks of inbound marketing is that for brands with limited resources, it can be done simply, while still managing to reach a worldwide audience. However, a lot of brands like to showboat, creating elaborate campaigns spanning different platforms and media, with expensive videos or complex interactive elements. That's all well and good, but if you were hoping to keep things minimalistic, email can help you with that.
Done poorly, email marketing is viewed as spam, and it gets deleted. Done well, it can be a way to connect with your customers and keep them updated as to what's new in your company.
The trick is to send emails only to people who have requested them, and to make them feel personal. Tell them about your newest product release and why it's something they'll be interested in. Share important announcements and make it clear why your customers should be excited about them. Use emails not to sell, but to reach out.
You don't need a huge team and fancy software to implement a successful inbound marketing campaign. The most important thing is the message you're conveying. Communicating that message in a minimalist way can still yield big results, if you do it with a little creativity. Of course, you want to do it in a way that differentiates your offering and tells your brand's story.