SBM 074 : Inbound Marketing and Influencer Programs with Ian Cleary

Today’s Guest

Ian Cleary is known for content marketing and has created a tool called ‘Outreach Plus’ that helps grow traffic.

This is the 74th session of Smart Brand Marketing.

We continue our focus on content marketing. This time around I wanted to find out more about inbound marketing and influencer programs. We also dug deeper into the tool Ian created, how he marketed it and how its launch went.

MY BIGGEST TAKEAWAY: 

Include influencers in your content and reach out to them.

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TOPICS DISCUSSED

  • The realities of inbound marketing
  • Outbound marketing
  • What are influencer programs?
  • Free and Paid ways to push your content out
  • Choosing the content to push
  • How long to test?
  • Pillar content vs weekly post
  • Guest posts
  • Ian’s most popular post
  • Lead Magnets

Inbound Marketing and Why You Should Use it

Any veteran in online marketing would tell you that content-based marketing is perhaps one of the most versatile tools in any marketer’s arsenal. If you are creative enough, you can have the same topic covered more than once albeit with different angles so each article or multimedia post doesn’t look far too similar too each other. Of course, there is the option to have all of your content form a part of a bigger narrative which should optimize traffic in your sites.

Aside from these, however, there is also the ability to revisit past content, especially those that you have made and published in the past 12 to 24 months. Now, reintroducing old content might be tricky from the outside but this can be made easier for you with a nifty strategy inbound marketing.

In almost cases, inbound marketing is your best tool in keeping your old content relevant and reusable. As to how, it’s best that we go through the basics first.

Why Inbound Marketing?

Let’s get this out of the way, inbound marketing is a purely promotional tactic for all intents and purposes. Instead of “buying” your way into the consciousness of your market by creating and pushing out content like what usually happens in outbound marketing, inbound marketing is more concerned about “earning” the attention of your customers.

To better understand why the massive shift in focus, we must first understand how the market works right now. In most cases, that shift tin market behavior can all be summed up in one word: control.

Basically, more and more people are now exerting greater control not only in the information they want to hear but also in the channels and personalities they want to hear it from. In other words, not only do the people now have a greater selection of options as to what brands they should be loyal to but they can also choose what message they want to hear or who delivers it.

How does this have affected marketing? According to some surveys, here’s how:

  • Almost 80% of the teen to young adult demographics have said that they would unsubscribe from favorite website if they feature too much advertising that is irrelevant, forced, and unskippable.
     
  • More than 86% of TV viewers skip advertisements.
     
  • More than 200 million people in the US are requesting to be placed under the “Do Not Call” list of the FTC.
     
  • 91% of e-mail subscribers have dropped their subscription to an e-mail list.
     

All of these changes in consumer behavior in regards to marketing all point to one conclusion: outbound marketing is having difficulties connecting with people right now.

So, does this mean that inbound marketing should become your primary marketing tool from now on? Not really. More often than not, inbound marketing will not work for you unless you take into account several realities facing marketing right now.

The (Harsh) Realities A Marketer Must Face

The sudden changes in consumer behavior is not only affecting outbound marketing but marketing as a whole. As a marketer, if you really want your marketing strategies to remain “healthy” in recent times, there are several bitter pills of truth that you need to swallow (figuratively, of course).

Bitter Pill #1: Nobody Gives a Damn About Your Brand

Traditional marketing has always been about telling the rest of the world that your brand is the best for these conditions or your service/product is the best option available right now. Do you know how the rest of the market treats advertising right now? Noise. Loud, abrasive, interruptive, noise.

The hardest truth you need to face right now is that people are not really concerned with you and those that do won’t be for long if the sole purpose of your marketing campaigns is just to drown out the noise made by your competitors.

What they do care about is solutions. Simply put, it’s no longer about how well-know the brand is but how applicable your products or services are in solving real-life problems. Whatever solution being offered out there solves the problem the best tend to be at the top.

Bitter Pill #2: It’s a Free for All Now

Back then, the only competition you would have to take seriously are the companies that offer the same products or services like you or, at least, target the same demographics as you. Today, competition can come in any form and in any size.

In most cases, the competition you should take seriously right now in the online world comes from companies smaller in size and scope as they have a better chance of keeping their target market engaged with their brand. How? That’s through inbound marketing.

Also, the high volume of competition today brings in an information overload for target markets. That simply means that, slowly by slowly, people are mastering the art of ignoring what businesses are trying to say in recent years.

This only means that your hands are going to be full in the coming months. The question is: are you ready to deal with it?

Bitter Pill #3: Marketing is the New Form of Philanthropy

In a twist that would make Ayn Rand roll in her grave, marketing today has taken up an angle of selflessness. No, this does not mean that marketing has abandoned its capitalist roots as it is still making money today and a lot at that, too.

It is just that, with inbound marketing, the way profits are made have changed the industry tremendously. It’s all about generosity, altruism, relationship-building, and whatever feel-good concept you can throw the people at when it comes to marketing in recent years.

Whatever strategy you will use for marketing, always remember that you have to give something of value first if you want your customers to trust your brand.

Influencers: How Do You Pick Them?

If you break inbound marketing down to its basic elements, you would find out that the primary goal here is to increase your relevance and influence in the market. Now, you can do this on your own but having outside help does improve results considerably.

Outside help in this area often comes in the form of influencers. As a matter of fact, many marketing companies look towards influencers to better promote or, better yet, “evangelize” their brand to the market.

And since influencers can do a lot of help in boosting brand awareness, it goes without saying that you need to know how to build strategies that can optimize their effects. Here’s how:

  1. 1. Match the Influencer to Your Niche

    Just because an influencer has clout does not mean that they have appeal in all markets. Rather than finding the most influential people to help you get brand across the market, you must first identify which people tend to resonate with your target market the most.

    Make a list of speakers, industry authorities, thought leaders, and celebrities that the audience for your brand are following. You can do this by doing a simple Google search about a topic your brand often tackles and listing out the names of the people that pop up the most there.

  2.  
    2. Assess

    Now that you have a list of people you can tap, you must then determine how effective they will be as influencers based on three factors.
     

    • Relevance

      Is the influencer well known in the industry you are a part of? Does their style match the tone of your content marketing strategies? Take a look at their content as this will give you a clue as to whether or not these people are the perfect fit for your brand.

    • Resonance

      Some influencers tend to create content that can be tone-deaf i.e. does not elicit the proper response from the audience. Whenever they produce something, does this influencer get a lot of likes or do they get more dislikes? How about the number of shares that their content enjoys from? Also, mind how the influencer weighs in on a discussion, answer questions, and conduct themselves in their own content.

    • Reach

      Take a look at the size of the audience that the influencer commands. This will include the traffic in their blogs, social media pages, and video channels. What you want is an influencer that does not only have a large audience but can share the same kind of demographics as your brand.

  3. 3. Scrutinize

    Aside from their background, you should also take a look at the demeanor and work ethics of the influencer. There are several aspects you need to take a look at such as:
     

    • a. Frequency – How many content does this influencer make on a certain period of time? Do they have a consistent creation schedule? In YouTube, for example, you get content creators that publish content on a daily basis like LeafyisHere but do not get a lot of traction and ones that create 2 to 5 videos per year like JonTron but get more traffic once their content is published. It’s up to you weight the pros and cons of the influencer’s frequency as what you need to also consider how their content is performing once it is released.
       
    • b. Focus – Some influencers do well with one certain topic while others can go all over the place but still get a lot of traffic. What you need to establish here is if that influencer’s choice of topics also covers topics that your brand tackles regularly.
       
    • c. Tone – This covers their overall style. Are they upbeat and quirky or are they abrasive and cynical. Some influencers tend to avoid unwanted attention while others, like Jake and Logan Paul, revel in controversy.
       

    • d. Language – This does not exactly talk about the language that the influencer uses but how they use it. The use of profanities, for example, might be okay for influencers who target teenagers and young adults but might be considered abrasive for older or extremely young people.

      Also, do their use of language match yours? Your brand might be used to talking to the audience in a professional way so look for an influencer who can do something similar to their audience.

Dealing with other people in the Internet can be a hit and miss affair. Even the best collaborations with popular people will not even matter in the long run unless you know how to take full advantage of whatever benefits there are in collaborating with the biggest names in the online world right now.

Even if you use influencers, your inbound marketing strategy is still not going to be effective if you yourself don’t do your part. You need to engage with people regularly if you want to be as visible in the market enough so that influencers will not hesitate collaborating with you.

In Conclusion

If you have reached to this point of the post, you might think that since we’ve been talking about the good behind inbound marketing, it means that it is the easier path to take for marketers. That is one big NO.

There are several things to get used to here such as the types of content you will make and the consolidating of all your marketing efforts so that they form one big narrative for your customers to follow. There is also the fact that you have to produce your content at a rate bigger and faster than what you are normally used to.

Add to this the multiple channels that you have to tap into and you get a potentially overwhelming marketing strategy.

However, this does not mean that inbound marketing is going to be difficult for you forever. What it requires is for your teams to collaborate their efforts closely and adapt to new and sophisticated marketing tools as they are introduced. If they can produce the results as required by your goals, then more or less your investment in this brand of marketing would be justified.

Have you used inbound marketing before? What other marketing strategies have you used to keep engaging with your target audience? Let us know in the comments below.

References:

 

RESOURCES

IAN IN ACTION

 

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