Inbound marketing is a brand marketing strategy that focuses on having customers and potential customers find you. This blog post is the second in our series of posts designed to help you progress from inbound marketing wannabe to your brand’s inbound marketing hero. The first post “Is Your Brand Ready to Start Inbound Marketing?” addressed step 1 on the road to inbound marketing success: ensuring you and your team have committed to brand strategy and brand systems representing your brand.
Step 2 – Be Clear on Your Audience
Are you clear on the target audience for your inbound marketing? Crystal Clear?
To build strong inbound marketing content, you need to focus on key target audience(s). Your inbound marketing plan and content needs to be developed with your key audience(s) in mind. You will waste resources and increase your risk of failure if you create content which isn’t directed to what they want to know.
As part of Inbound Marketing Step 1, you should already have a clear sense about the primary target audience for your brand. After all, you can’t create a quality brand strategy without a critical branding conversation about your audience. However, the target audience for your inbound marketing efforts will be more nuanced. You will likely need to refine and further segment your brand audience to be clear on which audience or audience to target for inbound marketing. Critical considerations include:
- The primary target audience for your brand (the customer with decision making authority to buy your solution) may not be searching the web, but their subordinates may well be. Who do you target your content towards?
- Potential partners and resellers may be searching for your solution, but your brand isn’t focused on them. Do you create content for them?
- Analysts, journalists, employees and others in your industry could find your content magnetic and share it with others. Should you create content exclusively for them? Even though you don’t sell to them?
How to Assess Audience
There is no one size fits all approach to segmenting and prioritizing your audience for inbound marketing. And in-fact, part of the magic of inbound marketing is that you may be introduced to unknown audiences as they find you and your solution through search engines and social networks. However, magical intervention won’t replace the need for audience assessment. You can’t side-step thinking about your audience. To assess which audience(s) to target, best practice considerations include:
- Differentiate between your brand’s primary target customer and the influencers who have an impact on their buying decision (including end users, critics and thought leaders).
- Can you describe the buying process? Can you clearly describe your customer with a good sense of their age, education, aspirations and pains? Can you easily find real examples of your “typical” customer?
- Do you have a sense of whether the customer makes the decision independently or is influenced by others? If they are influenced by others, then do particular types of influencers hold the most sway?
- Consider whether inbound marketing should be focused on your primary customer or the customer’s influencers. Consider whether it is worthwhile to invest in creating separate inbound marketing content streams directed to distinct audiences or audience segments.
- Keep it simple at the start. Inbound marketing is not about overnight success, but rather continuous learning and adaptation over time. You can start with one audience and, as you get audience feedback, you can make choices about additional audiences to target or refinements in how you define your target audience.