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A Deeper Look into Inbound Marketing: Q&A with Ashley Verrill
After writing our last blog about Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing, we wanted to dig a little deeper. We spoke with Ashley Verril from the Software Advice to find out more!
GreenRope: What are the benefits, in your opinion, of Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing?
Ashley: Inbound marketing is becoming increasingly important because the customer actively chooses to engage with you, rather than more outbound methods where you essentially interrupt them and then ask for something. Leads attained through inbound methods might come in more slowly (although not always), but they arrive with a vested interest in your company. The really good inbound marketers only apply their efforts to attracting people most apt to buy from them, so it's also really efficient. People attracted through inbound marketing methods are also more likely to feel satisfied when they become a customer, again, because they actively chose to come to you. One marketer explained it to be this way -- it's selling through education.
GreenRope: What do you think are the most important aspects of Inbound Marketing?
Ashley: Hands down, it's nailing the audience. There's no use in drawing traffic and contacts from people that will never actually buy from you. Yes, you can write about puppies, kittens and Lady Ga Ga and attract all kinds of clicks and shares, but that won't likely affect your revenue. Not only that, but relevant site traffic is important for search engine optimization purposes, so you want to make sure people are visiting your site that align with your business model. So the most important factor is to know exactly who your audience is and continually analyze what kinds of content and strategies most resonate with that target.
GreenRope: If a business has a limited budget and time allocation to dedicate to Inbound Marketing, where should they focus their efforts?
Ashley: That's a really tough one because it's all important, but I would say making sure your on-page optimization is in order, so having your H1, meta tags and other important site infrastructure contain the most important keywords. Also, making sure the content on those pages is high quality and inviting. This will help ensure not only that your website is indexed correctly, but that your bounce rates don't get out of control. And don't overstuff you're pages with keywords. Density should be less than 2% on the page.
GreenRope: What is the best way for businesses to keep their content fresh and interesting?
Ashley: Strive for uniqueness over what I call "cheap clicks." Sure, exclamatory headlines, "how-tos" and "5 top ways" articles will get people to click through to your site. But you need to make sure your content lives up to your headline. Try to answer with every article, "what is the reader learning that they can go and use to make their business better today?" Also, get everyone in the company involved (as in writing on the blog) and teaching based on their experience. Also, interview experts and produce original research. This kind of content will naturally get picked up and is guaranteed unique.
GreenRope: In your opinion. how does automation play into inbound marketing?
Ashley: A lot of ways, but I think measurement most importantly. As Peter Drucker once said, "What's measured, improves." Software gives you the ability to see what's working, make adjustments, and see if it makes it work even better. Also, efficiency, of course. You can try even more things because you can get them done faster.
GreenRope: What are some effective ways of attracting leads to your blog?
Ashley: One way I like to put it is don't go for the throat in every post. If all of your articles are "why my product is so great" no one has any reason to come back to your site if they don't convert on their first visit. You want to wine and dine them, if you will. You have to give some stuff away if you want to get something back. So feed them content that satisfies their desire to improve their business, then slowly over time tell them how your product or service helps them achieve their goals faster.
GreenRope: Overall, what trends do you see in Inbound Marketing and where do you think it is going?
Ashley: I would say just that more companies are transitioning their efforts to exclusively using these tactics. For a lot of businesses, Google makes or breaks you. More business is conducted online, so businesses have to get savvier about attracting those people in an increasingly competitive landscape. I think we are going to continue to see new technologies that leverage data and social in new ways, and the companies that get on board now will be winners in the long run.
Ashley Verrill is a Market Analyst at Software Advice as well the Managing Editor for the Customer Service Investigator blog. She has spent the last seven years reporting and writing business news and strategy features, including articles for GigaOM and CIO.com. Her work has also been cited in myriad publications including Forbes, the New York Times and Inc.