Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Inbound Marketing: Tips for Reaching New Business Prospects Online

July 15, 2014

When searching for new potential customers, there are generally two approaches businesses can take to increase visibility and reach new prospects.

The first approach is direct marketing  that we all know well, which includes targeted mailings, phone calls and advertising online, in print, TV or radio. The second, more subtle, approach is inbound marketing, which focuses on creating and sharing valuable content that appeals to customers, attracts prospects and keeps them coming back for more.

These approaches can be used interchangeably or simultaneously. However, in today’s competitive market, it is becoming increasingly clear that strategic inbound marketing is the more effective method when it comes to attracting customers and converting leads.

Strategic inbound marketing is also the cornerstone for improving discoverability, which means helping potential customers find your product or service when they actually need it, rather than bombarding them with advertising at unwanted times.

Here are 6 important inbound marketing tips that can help you attract relevant prospects.

Know Your Audience

This is perhaps the most important yet commonly overlooked step to take before reaching out to prospects. How can you expect to be relevant if you don’t know your customers’ needs and interests? Start by researching your target audience and building user profiles or 'personas' that include demographics, geographical location, common interests and online behavior patterns. To do this, you will need to collect statistical data, identify commonalities and then fuse and analyze the data so that it can be properly leveraged. There are a number of great online tools that can help you do this, including Google's keyword tool, Alexa, Compete, Quantcast, Woorank and Similarweb.

No, I mean REALLY Know Your Audience

After you've compiled a list of user profiles, conduct some additional research (preferably via online surveys) to authenticate the assumption that your target audience truly wants/needs the product or service you are selling. Try to understand the decision making process your profiled user makes before purchasing or testing your product or service. Keep in mind that some processes are immediate and spontaneous while others are more gradual and can take months or even years. Still others may involve long-term relationship building before a transaction ever takes place.  Understanding the buying cycles of your target audience is a crucial step that will determine who you're going to influence and how.

You Are Your Content

Inbound marketing, by definition, is designed to deliver true value to your target audience. Create content that informs, educates or entertains your customers within the context of their needs and their buying cycles. Doing so will capture their attention and will enable them to associate you with the qualities and content that you've provided to them. If your content is informative and accurate, your audience will associate you with accuracy and authority. If your content is entertaining and creative, they'll associate you with the same traits. Don't try to plant hidden messages or overtly self-promote. It will only prevent you from gaining the trust and authority you are trying to establish. Your content should be a natural extension of your identity and if done correctly, can help position you as a trustworthy authority and brand. 

Get Personal

Providing quality content will take you far. However, if you want to take it to the next level, you'll have to put your name on it. The reality is that people like to hear what people – not companies – have to say. They crave a certain humanness and personality behind the message, so that they can identify, reach out and ultimately build a relationship. Attributing content to a specific person at your company will help your readers connect and bring your content to life.

Be Bold, Not Boring

Many make the mistake of writing shallow, neutral content that is aimed at pleasing everyone. However, we all know that you can't please everyone all the time. If you want to establish yourself as a true thought leader, don’t be afraid to state bold opinions. Some people will appreciate your point of view, while others may disagree, but both outcomes result in people discussing your viewpoint. In fact, some of the most memorable people and articles are those that take an unconventional, out-of-the-box approach.

Communicate Frequently

Aim to cultivate your customers’ listening habits by providing valuable content on a frequent basis. Your audience will develop the expectation of hearing from you at certain times and will look forward to seeing your content. The key is to find the right balance of providing value without bombarding. Whether you choose daily, bi-weekly, or otherwise, be sure to set a schedule that your customers will appreciate and that you can stick to.

The creation and dissemination of relevant, engaging content requires both time and resources, but it is a wise investment. When done correctly, inbound marketing can have a profound impact on your business and your bottom line - helping to achieve discoverability, appeal to new audiences and ultimately raise your profile and value.

Ori Manor is the Founder and CEO of Chekkt, a B2B marketplace for SaaS solutions and outsourced services. Chekkt was created to help companies of all sizes grow their businesses and discover the best B2B solutions for their needs.

Edited by Maurice Nagle