Inbound Marketing? Does it really work and deliver return on investment? If you are marketing then even your Mother should know that you are out there! There is a lot of talk about inbound and content marketing in particular and over the last few years I wondered, as I am sure you have also, does it really work? Does all the social media, blogging and posting deliver and increase business or is it just a noise and distraction. On the same night that I graduated with a Masters in Digital Marketing I attended the Mamma Mia live show, and the lyrics stuck in my mind. Your target market needs to know you and all about what you have to offer out there in the noisy marketplace: Yes even your Mother! My thesis choice of “Inbound Marketing: Does It Increase Return On Investment”, proved to me that it does! In The State of Inbound Report (2014), the term ‘inbound marketing’ is defined as meaning “a methodology that focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product”. Read on to learn the 4 things you need to do in your business to drive traffic, increase sales and pull people towards your company. #1. The Impact To investigate the impact an inbound marketing campaign has on ROI of a business. Inbound Marketing is the art of communicating with your customers without selling and this is reinforced by distributing valuable information through email, blogging and social media platforms, thereby building loyalty and revenue. The main platforms for distributing information were Email and Facebook with over 54% of respondents surveyed actively driving traffic to their website. Just over 70% were using content marketing to increase this traffic also. The collaborative distribution of content and driving traffic has resulted in 42% of respondents surveyed being confident that inbound marketing directly impacts ROI. #2. Relationship Building To examine the relevance of relationship building and the role it plays in a campaign Relationships need to be developed by a) providing resources and opportunities that are of superior value b) maintaining high standards of corporate values and strategic partners c) communicating valuable information. If you provide several platforms where customers are comfortable sharing, networking, giving and receiving help, your business can be the go-to place to which your audience will flock and engage. Blogs share information and build trust, friendships and alliances. Over 32% rated blogging as extremely/very relevant in the art of building their community. #3. The Community To discover the relevance of a community of fans in an inbound campaign. ‘Community’ can be defined as: Social groups of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage. A social, religious, occupational or other group sharing common characteristics or interest, and perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists. In order to build community in your business you must give them a reason to engage with you. The findings show that commenting and interacting with your consumers leads to an increased engagement, with 54% receiving interaction with their social postings. As a direct result of this, the findings demonstrate that 68% of site visitors are extremely/moderately likely to be converted to a customer, therefore increasing ROI. Looking at Table 10 below the findings reveal that those who very often get replies to their social media postings report that only 1 in 20 customers who visit their sites do not eventually become customers (5.7%), whereas those who rarely get a response to their social media posts report that less than half of site visitors become customers. Your community network has a role in distributing, commenting and building reputations, as well as in disseminating your valuable content – work with them and they will work with you. This corroborates and strengthens the opinion of Jay Baer (2013) that “the best way to understand customer needs is to ask real customers”. This table illustrates that while 70 people might leave a comment only 32 of those will actually become a customer and this finding further corroborates Baer’s theory (2013) that being customer centric will increase customer value and ultimately your business. #4. Deliver ROI To explore how the distribution of valuable content to this community delivers ROI over time. The need for empowering and engaging content users as a community means that digital marketers should utilise inbound marketing strategies. The survey further revealed that 82.2% of respondents using CTAs (Call to Actions) in their social postings to encourage engagement, also use content marketing to drive traffic and develop the relationship with clients for their businesses. Looking at the distribution of scores presented in Table 17 below, we can see that 68.7% of proficient inbound marketers report that they are confident that their inbound strategy incorporating blogging, content distribution and social media postings, are directly increasing their ROI extremely/very/moderately often, whereas infrequent inbound marketers are far more likely to have no ROI (75.8%). Inbound Marketing will deliver ROI if you implement the following 3 strategies in your business. Use a clear strategy over 4 or more social media platforms and distribute valuable content and engagement over time. Distribute useful information first and promote your company second. Companies that blog fifteen or more times per month get five times more traffic than those that do not blog at all and blogging plays a significant part in building relationships and community. It is crucial that you as a business owner understand what motivates and engages your customers to purchase from you, as different social media platforms require communication and engagement with customers over a long time prior to a purchase decision, and this can require very different marketing actions. Given the increasing prominence of social networking platforms in the lives of consumers, and the influence and impact they have for a business, it is essential that you understand and harness the power of these forms of media. The research in this study was a Survey Monkey Survey to over 865 participants with 238 being eligible to partake and complete. It was carried out in the US and distributed to SME’s nationwide. Recommended reading : Baer, J (2013) Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help Not Hype, Penguin, London. Hubspot (2014) State of Inbound Report [Online]. Available: http://www.stateofinbound.com Full Survey available on request from Author. Images: Northfoto / Shutterstock.com ________________________________________________________________________________ Tweak Your Biz is a thought leader global publication and online business community. Today, it is part of the Small Biz Trends stable of websites and receives over 300,000 unique views per month. Would you like to write for us? An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator.