“Inbound Marketing: Using ‘permission’ based marketing to get your audience to raise their hands and say ‘YES!’”
As this site focuses on drop servicing, freelancers and outsourcing, the inbound marketing channels and inbound marketing strategies we’ll focus on are primarily tailored to professionals working in these areas. That said, almost all of the things we’ll focus on below can be used to market and sell any product or service.
As much as I try to outline, systemize and process Inbound Marketing in an easy to read and understand guide – the more frustrated I get.
For those of us who have been involved with marketing for the past 10-15 years, we have a ‘leg up’ compared to people who are just getting started.
It’s second nature to understand and apply the techniques and strategies commonly used within the inbound marketing ‘sphere’.
For those just getting into the game knowing where and how to start can often overwhelm. I mean, okay, everyone understands you can publish blog post, videos and even hire a graphic designer to do some visual work for you.
But, how does that all fit into the overall picture? Why are you doing? Where are you going with it?
To understand that better, it literally pays to understand something we call Inbound Marketing.
What is Inbound Marketing?
The reason I find it so difficult to layout a one stop guide for understanding and applying inbound marketing strategies is the fact that it isn’t just made up of one main system that can be followed from beginning to end in a step by step format.
Drop servicing is actually made up of many ‘ecosystems’ that can all tie together in some way, shape or form.
So what is inbound marketing?
Well, to really understand inbound marketing lets compare it with its older brother – outbound marketing.
Traditionally, outbound marketing is the type of marketing you’ll see on tv, the adverts, the big billboard advertising you’ll see on the way to work. Cold calling and cold messaging also falls into this category. Basically, most forms of marketing pre the internet era. Other forms of outbound marketing can include; direct mail, telemarketing and trade shows.
Outbound marketing consists of marketing strategies and tactics that aim to interrupt your target audience. Outbound marketing tends to be a one-way conversation – at least until the customer decides that they actually want or need the product or service being advertised.
Inbound marketing on the other hand focuses on things like; creating content that’s published on a website, social media posts, creating videos for youtube and anything else that leads with value first and advertisement second.
Inbound marketing consists of marketing strategies and tactics that meet your potential customers where they want to be met. Inbound marketing tends to be a two-way conversation, that uses valuable content to attract (not push), engage (not tell) and move those people to taking action. Inbound marketing allows our target audience to ‘raise their hand’ and let us know they are interested in having some sort of dialogue with us.
An great example of inbound marketing would be a company setting up a YouTube channel and attracting an audience by providing video content that people find engaging. They can then use the attention they get from these videos to advertise their product or services.
So the most simplest and easiest way to differentiate between both inbound and outbound marketing is this:
Inbound marketing is the pull of advertising while outbound marketing is push.
While the effectiveness of both are constantly being compared, the truth is if you’re looking for more business – combining both of them together will yield the best results.
Drop Servicing: Inbound Marketing Strategies
So how do we apply this to our drop servicing business? More simply put, how do we use inbound marketing to gain more customers and clients to our service business?
Well, firstly it’s important to understand what channels we can use.
Inbound Marketing Channels
As I’ve already said before, inbound marketing primarily focuses on providing valuable content that our target audience finds engaging. So, with that in mind we need to start looking at places in which we can publish content.
The channels you use will largely depend on on the service you’re providing but, in general most businesses can use any of the following channels:
Side Note: It’s always recommended that you have some sort of content marketing plan and strategy in place. But, that said – action beats inaction. You can always edit your content further down the line. The best time to start was yesterday the second best time to start is NOW.
Inbound Marketing Channel #1: Blogging
Blogging has been around since the dawn of the internet. And while some modern-digital thinking may well downplay the act of ‘blogging’ (for some legitimate reasons at times may I add) it still has an incredible ROI (return on investment) if done correctly.
Blogging involves using some sort of website (free or paid) and using that platform to create content in the form of a blog.
In previous years, you could get good traction online and gain a significant amount of followers using free blogging platforms such as; Squidoo or Blogger.
As time has progressed though, creating a blog on your own website, with your own dedicated hosting will yield longer and better results.
To ensure your blogging efforts are paying off, you’ll need to put some effort into finding the right topics to blog about so your audience will be interested and also find a way to market that blog so people can find your content. (more on that in a minute)
Inbound Marketing Channel #2: Youtube
Often cited as the second biggest search engine after Google, YouTube is an absolute mammoth of a platform that has steadily grown over the years.
Focusing on video content using YouTube can not only give your audience a different way to consume your content and gain new followers, but it can also be used as a revenue generator in itself.
Using their advertising partner program you’ll actually add an additional source of revenue to your business without having to sell any services of your own.
In terms of inbound marketing however you can use the platform to create content that your target audience with find helpful and valuable.
Say you’re a web designer. You can create a channel that helps small businesses redesign their website. You could create easy to to follow along tutorials for people to use and then off the back of that sell your services for bigger projects and clients.
You’ll not only be able to make money from the advertising revenue off your videos but you’ll be able to show your expertise and open the opportunity for clients and customers to get in contact with you for your higher priced services.
Inbound Marketing Channel #3: Social Media
As you’ll probably know, social media covers a few platforms. And while people are constantly finding ways to make money within all sorts of channels, you’ll usually focus your effort on a select few; Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
Each of these social media platforms will require a slightly different type of content and the way in which you approach your audience will differ too.
So for example, how you create content for Instagram will differ to how you create your content for LinkedIn. While you may well teach and talk about the same topics, the style and delivery of the content will change depending on the platform you’re using.
Again, just like blogging and YoutTube how you attract your audience will be just as important as what content you put up on these platforms.
Inbound Marketing Channel #4: Freelance Marketplaces
This inbound marketing channel isn’t spoken about a lot – but nonetheless is a very important channel to consider if you’re offering freelance services.
If your services involve anything that can be outsourced (think; digital marketing services, administrative work or software services) then finding customers and clients on these platforms is one of the first places you should look.
Usually, these marketplaces work on a review based system, and the freelancer and agencies who provide the best quality work combined with knowing how to apply for projects successfully – win.
Using Inbound Marketing Channels To Get More Clients
Knowing where your target audience hangs out is crucial to knowing what inbound marketing channels you should use. If for example you’re targeting marketing agencies, then using a combination of Freelance Marketplaces, LinkedIn and Blogging would be a solid strategy to start with.
It’s also important to note that these channels in themselves while great platforms will usually require a set of skills to use them effectively.
How are you going to make sure your videos get watched? How will your target audience find your website content? How are you going to grow your social influence?
That’s when you’ve got to start looking at the bigger picture…
Inbound Marketing Strategies
So now we’ve got a strong list of places we can publish our content and find clients, what is the best strategy to go about maximizing these channels to their full potential?
Now this section could go on forever. So, in terms of simplicity I’m going to outline the biggest needle movers and how they can start getting your content the awareness and attention it needs to build your business.
Important Note: Each one of these strategies has much deeper levels you can go. I’m only scratching the surface in this post…
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Usually when we talk about SEO we’re referring to Google. And while that should definitely be a large part of your focus you shouldn’t forget that there are other places online where SEO practices are relevant – none other than YouTube for example.
SEO is the practice of making your content ‘friendly’ enough so that search engines like Google (and YouTube – they are the second biggest search engine after all) rank your content high enough on their search results that when a your target audience searches for a specific keyword that you are trying to rank for finds your content and consumes it.
SEO provides some of the best ROI in the inudtsry but, it does take a while to see any real results. Depending on the keywords you are focusing on and the industry you’re going after you could wait anywhere between 3 months and 3 years (sometimes longer) to start seeing your websites in the top search results.
And that’s only after you’ve put in all the upfront effort.
But don’t let those time frames put you off. It only takes your website to rank for one good keyword for you too see all your efforts pay off.
To really see the benefit of SEO you’re going to need to have a regular publishing schedule and use a keyword research tool to find out what keywords your target audience is looking for.
There are 2 aspects of SEO you should familiarize yourself with; On Page SEO and Off Page SEO.
On Page SEO refers to all the strategies and tactics you can deploy ON your page. So things such as; title, tags, the content itself, and many other variables. These on page factors are largely in your control – so take advantage of them.
Off Page SEO refers to the marketing tactics you deploy to raise the awareness of your content. So things such as reaching out to other blog owners to feature your content on their site and link back to your piece of content.
Depending on how you go about your paid advertising strategy it can be classed as either outbound or inbound marketing.
For your paid advertising to work in an inbound strategy, you’re focus should be again not only providing value up from but also then feeding those leads into a funnel that looks to follow up with them with more value.
Paid ads can stretch across many platforms. But, what we’re talking about here is your Facebook Ads, Google Adwords and Instagram ads of the digital world.
For example, say you want to to target a specific keyword in Google. You could use the blogging strategy above or you could look to Google Adwords to target those keywords.
You would then ideally funnel the leads into an email follow up campaign and then look to provide even more value and eventually convert them to paying clients and customers.
Value Driven Outreach
Normal outreach involves prospecting a load of potential clients, then cold messaging them without them having any prior knowledge of who or what you do.
Value Drive Outreach involves adding some value in the marketplace, people see that value and then look to connect with you.
This is a very clever strategy I’ve seen used and implemented well on Instagram. Budding influencers will look to established influencers on Instagram. Whenever that established influencer posts something of value the budding influencer drops themselves into the comment section to add even more value.
This strategy, repeated over and over again will eventually lead to a simple but highly effective Value Drive Outreach Strategy.
Another strategy would be by contacting well known websites and blogs in your industry and offering to write a blog post for them on a specific topic. The idea here is you will provide good content for their audience and in turn use the piece of content to drive their traffic back to your content or social channels.
Email marketing can actually be both an inbound marketing channel AND strategy. It can also be outbound too.
If you’re paying someone to email a mass broadcast to hundreds of people – this would be outbound marketing.
In terms of inbound however, using your inbound channels (blogging, social media etc) you can start to build a list of leads and use these leads to follow up with them by providing content and selling your services. You can of course also run paid advertising to a landing page that collects emails too.
Using Inbound Marketing for Your Drop Servicing and Freelancing Business
Inbound marketing is powerful and if done correctly can give you some of the best ROI for your business. Some channels and strategies can take time to build up however so, for this reason it’s important you not only identify the place where your target audience ‘hangs out’ but it’s also equally important to mix and match your inbound strategies.
Inbound marketing is largely about creating content that is valuable enough that your target audience first finds it, then engages with it and finally ‘raises their hand’ to say they are interested in what you have to offer.
The leads, prospects and customers you’ll gain from inbound marketing are by far some of the best leads you’ll get.
Again, as I mentioned at the start of this post, there’s isn’t really a start or stop point – it’s a continuous cycle and most of the channels and strategies I went into above can be used in conjunction with each other.
Putting It Into Action
- Find out where your target audience spends their time
- Setup, build and start networking with your target audience in these places
- Create a content plan and execute this across all of the channels you’ve identified
- Make sure you adapt and repurpose your content to suit the channel and strategy you’re using