What is Inbound Marketing & Why Is It So Important for Schools?
Published on 04/05/16
Inbound marketing focuses on promoting a brand, product or service through blogs, ebooks, newsletters, whitepapers, social media, and any other form of content marketing; in order to attract and move customers through the purchase funnel.
“By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.” - Hubspot
Inbound marketing is transforming the way the world does business; the older marketer centric techniques of the traditional world have evolved into a new realm of marketing. Any company, business, brand, or body now has to concentrate on putting their consumers first. Customer centric marketing is where you should begin to shift your focus to - if you haven’t already done so.
When discussing marketer centric techniques this relates to disruptive advertisements, cold calling or cold emails - basically any form of selfish, in-your-face marketing. A few years ago, this type of marketing was particularly successful and this was mostly down to brute force and arrogance. Historically, platforms were considerably more limited than the plethora of channels we have access to today, there were restrictions on where brands could naturally reach their audience, when they could reach them and how they could do it.All industry sectors are becoming increasingly saturated, meaning brands and companies now have to battle for their place in the forefront of the minds of their customer. This puts an onus on a brand to devise alternative methods of surprising and delighting their audience, in every stage of the inbound conversion process, to ensure they stand out from the crowd. The best way to do this is to identify the micro-moments that your audience experience, and how to answer those questions before they even ask them.
As a rule, people don’t respond well to being forcefully sold to and, as a result, if you shove an advert or email infront of them they are more likely to skip the channel or delete your correspondence before even giving it a second of thought. If the content isn’t worth their time, they simply won’t waste their time on you
Content is King
Inbound marketing is about creating the right content, in the right place at the right time. This makes your marketing efforts relevant and helpful without being interruptive. What’s not to love about that?
When we talk about content, we are directly talking about… well, pretty much everything. Everything that is produced and can be consumed, in one way or another. Think of content as the sandwich filling, and the bread = the channel or facilitator.
Just as you wouldn’t buy a sandwich that had little, poor or bad quality filling - you wouldn’t spend time on a website that had little, poor or bad quality content. This is where an inbound strategy comes into effect.
The first stage of your inbound strategy should focus on who you’re targeting and what type of content (sandwich filling) they prefer. There’s simply no point marketing an egg sandwich to someone who hates egg. By familiarising yourself with your audience - their wants, needs, challenges and knowledge - followed by creating content they will find appetising, you will avoid wasting your time by placing yourself in front of the wrong person.
Go Customer Centric
The customer centric approach focuses on search engine optimisation - which is determined by the trust and citation of a site. This trust can be developed via blogs or by creating some form of attraction that will develop visitors of your site into leads.
In order to optimise your website for the people you are targeting, you have to put yourself into the shoes of your audience to determine what keywords or search terms they might be searching for and creating content that discusses these topics, keywords or issues.
So, when creating content for your site, there are always three things to take into consideration when addressing your audience; whether it’s helpful, relevant and interesting. By adopting an inbound marketing methodology, your school stakeholders are more likely to not only visit your website, but enjoy your content; converting strangers into customers and subsequently - customers into promoters. Remember, promoters don’t appear out of thin air, you have to nurture and delight them throughout the conversion process in order to get them there.
The Inbound Conversion Process
Strangers, visitors, leads: potential parents, students, teachers either looking to enroll in a new school or find a job.
Customers: Existing parents, students and teachers involved with the school.
Promoters: Existing parents, students and teachers who truly value the school and actively promote and advertise the school; e.g via social platforms, word of mouth etc.
Conversion: Potential parents and students choosing to enroll / potential teachers applying for vacancy.
It is important to address each of your stakeholders at each stage of the process when marketing your school.
So as long as you get the right content (sandwich filling), the right channel (the facilitator / bread) at the right time (in the conversion process) - your website will live long and prosper!
But, at the end of the day it’s all about creating content that people love.