As of 2019, the average person in the United States saw about 5,000 ads each day, and people have grown tired of companies constantly selling to them. Inbound marketing offers an alternative because it focuses on advertising strategies that allow you to draw your audience in, build brand awareness, and cultivate a relationship. Add these inbound marketing tools to your overall strategy over the next year to better engage your target customer.
What is Inbound Marketing?
An inbound marketing campaign is designed to pull customers into your company. You can use content creation tools for blogs, events, SEO, and social media to appeal to customers and build a rapport with them. The inbound marketing funnel helps you to attract leads to your website and eventually convert them into customers by building a trusting relationship.
Some of these can be used to engage and entertain potential clients, while others can be used to inform your audience and establish your credibility. Using a combination of inbound marketing techniques makes it easier for potential buyers to find you online on their terms.
7 Best Inbound Marketing Tools
There are a variety of inbound marketing tools you can use to complement your engagement strategies, build brand awareness, and create inbound leads. Here are some common tools that should be part of your inbound strategy in 2022, along with a few inbound marketing examples.
1. Voice Search Optimization
If you’ve started digital marketing, you may be familiar with search engine optimization (SEO), which is used to make your website easier to find in internet searches, exposing your business to a larger audience.
However, with the rise of virtual assistants like Siri, Google, and Alexa, more people are using voice searches to find businesses near them. As of 2019, 40% of internet users in the United States used voice searches, and the number is growing.
The process of voice search optimization is similar to a traditional SEO strategy, but people use different phrasing to find you through a voice search. For example, if you own a small hardware store, someone might type “hardware store near me” in a search engine. But they are more likely to ask, “What is the closest hardware store in my area?” when using a voice search.
You also want to add long-tail keywords to your website and online content. These are longer phrases people might use to find your business and including them makes it easier for it to appear in voice searches. Optimizing your site for local SEO will also help you pop up in “near me” voice searches.
2. Local Search Engine Optimization
To optimize for local SEO, update your website listings on Google My Business, Yelp, and other local and industry directories. Both Google My Business and Yelp let you manage your own listing by creating a business account for free.
From there, you can log in to the platform and confirm that your address, phone number, website, and hours are correct. You can also include product and service information and interact with customers. Make sure that all of your listings are consistent across platforms so that your business appears in local searches. When someone searches for “hardware stores near me,” your Google My Business, Yelp, and other listings tell the search engine whether or not you should be listed in the results.
3. Content Marketing
Creating valuable content through your website, blog post, and social media posts is one of the most successful inbound marketing tools you can use to engage your audience. Though it can be tricky to navigate the ever-evolving world of social media and content production, it is also one of the most successful resources you can use to entice people onto your website and into your business.
Ninety-one percent of businesses use at least one form of content marketing, and their most important objective is generating leads. You can use the following inbound marketing platforms to post compelling content that engages and attracts customers:
- YouTube or Vimeo
- Company blog
- Tik Tok
- Your website
If you are already active on social media, assess your analytics to determine which content management platform is best for your social media strategy. You want to track the types of content that generate the highest click rates and then keep nurturing those existing client relationships as you head into 2022.
4. Conversational Marketing
Many companies are adding artificial intelligence-based customer service tools to their arsenal. In a recent survey, 86% of companies indicated that they would be using AI as a mainstream technology in 2021.
AI-powered conversational marketing tools include chatbots, SMS-based customer service, and AI-powered digital agents that take over simple customer service inquiries. Rather than displacing your current customer service and sales team, these tools augment your human employees.
Conversational marketing tools can handle initial customer inquiries and answer simple questions, freeing up your customer service team to work on more complex cases. They are also useful in generating better leads, highlighting customers who are more interested and likely to be responsive to a sales pitch. Your customer service team uses that information to follow up with potential conversions.
1-800 Flowers has a chatbot embedded on its home page that lets you start the ordering process with the click of a button.
5. Video Marketing
Although video marketing is a form of content, it is worth exploring on its own. A 2020 survey indicated that video ads were the best way for consumers to discover a brand. Video ads run on other content is a form of outbound marketing, but producing video content of your own and hosting them on YouTube, Vimeo, or similar is also a great way to generate better leads.
Video helps boost your SEO because you can include relevant keywords in its description, and this type of content is made to be shared. Popular forms of content for videos include product demonstrations, employee interviews, downloadable webinars, live stream Q & A sessions, and even factory tours.
For example, Moz is a software company specializing in SEO. It regularly hosts “Whiteboard Friday,” a series of YouTube videos in which a high-level employee walks viewers through SEO strategies with a whiteboard in the background. These videos are very engaging and informative, and they create a need for the company's software.
6. Influencer Marketing
According to Shopify, 61% of customers trust influencer recommendations and those with smaller followings usually have higher levels of engagement. Choose someone whose content aligns with your brand, and make sure you research before partnering with someone whose history includes problematic content. The goal is to boost your credibility, and content that is off-brand for you runs the risk of tanking your reputation.
Keep your eye out for any internet personalities who might be good partners for your brand, and approach them or their management team to explore how you might work together.
7. Website Forms
Potential customers are always on your website which makes it easier to turn them from visitors into leads. Include forms on your website with a call-to-action (CTA) that encourages them to sign up for your email content and join your social media groups.
You can also create pop-up forms requiring an email address for people to download interesting pieces of content or access customer-specific parts of your website. This practice is a free and easy way to generate leads.
Inbound Marketing Platforms
With so many inbound marketing tools at your disposal, managing them all can be tricky. Make the process easier with an inbound marketing platform that you can use to schedule content, measure analytics, and even assess your website for SEO.
These can also be used as inbound sales tools for generating high-quality leads. When you have the right tools on your website, you can capture email addresses and phone numbers for people who contact you after business hours, and you can see what drew them to your website.
The following platforms can be used to manage your inbound marketing resources and better nurture your sales leads:
Client Relationship Management (CRM)
You can use CRM platforms to assess leads, track sales, manage email marketing, and analyze different customer engagements. CRM platforms are important for managing relationships with everyone who contacts you. You want to make sure that you are properly responding to current and potential clients.
You can organize your contacts and then segment them by demographics and interests. Your sales team can use these insights to refine pitches and better engage with potential customers to highlight your product’s benefits.
Email Marketing Platforms
Sending out newsletters, promotional offers, and other bulk emails is much easier with an email marketing platform. They let you manage your client email list, segment your contacts into lists of customers with similar characteristics, and analyze email results.
You can test different messages, assess your email click-through rates, and generate additional data that lets you improve your email marketing. Most of the platforms are easy to integrate with your website. You can link them directly to your contact page and capture new qualified leads for your email marketing platform.
Email marketing platforms let you automate emails, sending out a response to anyone who might contact you for more information. You can also automate thank you emails for people who make a purchase to show gratitude. Entice those customers with a coupon code and CTA to join your mailing list for future promotions.
Social Media Management
Depending on your industry, you are likely operating multiple social media accounts. If your primary customers consist of other businesses, your social media marketing team may be focused on Facebook and LinkedIn. If your target audience skews younger, you marketers may be more active on TikTok and Instagram.
Social media management platforms serve as a single hub. You can use it to schedule posts on all of your accounts. They also give you valuable insight and analytics showing how the audience is engaging with your posts. This helps you refine your content to maintain consistency in community engagement.
Your website is also an inbound marketing tool. A well-designed one that is easy to navigate is more appealing than one that is unresponsive and disorganized. Your website is the first impression you make and it often serves as the start of the customer journey. That will help you to put the same level of care into your online presence as you do for your brick-and-mortar one.
Website analytics helps you to determine how people find you online. They also show you which pages are getting the most views and how long visitors are staying on your website. Some also let you analyze competitors’ websites against the performance of your own.
If potential customers can’t find answers to their questions on your website, they might choose a competitor's website that is easier to navigate. Make sure your FAQ section, return policy, and contact information are easy to locate, and don’t bury your customer service phone number.
Developing Your Marketing Strategy with the Right Inbound Marketing Tools
Inbound marketing continues to evolve as customer habits change and technology moves forward. What worked five years ago might not work as well in the current market. You can use the knowledge of these emerging trends and start working on your marketing strategy for 2022.
Evaluate your successes in 2021. If you ran a successful social media campaign, use it to generate content for the beginning of the next year. Pay attention to the messages and content that spurred the highest levels of engagement on your website.
Also, use this comprehensive list to determine what you’re not doing. Research the best inbound marketing tools you don't have to see if they are appropriate for your industry. This will allows you to stay on top of marketing trends. Then, you can assess your position relative to that of your competitors.
If you have an idea of your current inbound marketing channels and emerging ones, it will you narrow your focus for 2022. You can start looking at your analytics and create your marketing goals today.