Ecommerce Marketing / Enterprise Ecommerce / How to Sell Online

8 Steps to Kickstart an Inbound Marketing Strategy on a Budget

Susannah Morris / 4 min read

You’ve probably heard about inbound marketing. You may have forayed into inbound for your ecommerce company –– optimizing for search terms, starting a blog or being active on social media. That’s great!

Below are steps to help you move inbound, while remaining on budget.

Assess Your Current Marketing Strategy

If you’re thinking about inbound, it’s likely that there are areas of your marketing strategy you can improve. Analyze your current marketing activities and highlight areas where you can reallocate your budget toward inbound efforts. See if there are legacy tactics you’ve been doing forever that aren’t as effective as they used to be.

For example, you’re spending on email programs, market research, marketing software, mobile, PPC, social media… and maybe even direct mail and printing. You could reallocate some of your PPC budget to go toward efforts to increase organic traffic. Or, redirect budget from your direct mail and printing efforts. This way you can move toward an inbound strategy while staying within your current budget.

Consider Your Ideal Customers

Inbound is all about reaching your ideal customer. Who are your ideal buyers? Is your marketing aligned to appeal to them wherever they are? If it isn’t, fix it! Make sure you’re on the right channels to reach your ideal buyer persona, and that you’re creating content that appeals to them. Your content should speak to the pain points that your products can fix. You want to ensure that your marketing efforts are directed in the right places, especially if you’re on a budget.

John Maxwell of John Maxwell Co. does this particularly well. His site offers executive coaching and training programs, and his blog is targeted specifically to the concerns of working professionals. The site also includes an obvious newsletter signup option so that Maxwell can speak to his customers on their time.

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Take Your Current Activities Inbound

While you’re analyzing your current marketing strategy, think about ways you can adapt it to be more inbound and attract buyers to you. Think about the terms that they would be searching for to inform your SEO strategy. Use these terms on your website, your blog, in your content and on your social channels. Make sure you’re creating useful and informative content for your buyers, which they can actually find. This is the key to attracting your ideal customers.

Your current team probably divides up responsibility for different marketing channels or activities. By taking steps to make all of those activities more inbound, you’re influencing the overall strategy of your marketing toward inbound, without adding headcount or overloading a single individual’s responsibilities.

Subscription box service Goodebox does this particularly well. By maximizing for popular or trending beauty keywords and gather intel from their merchandising teams as to what products will be in their upcoming boxes, the team creates marketable content that speaks to the trends and to the actual service.

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Branch Out

Don’t be afraid to branch outside of marketing when assembling your team of content creators. Do you have an account or customer service manager who has the answer to every question? They could be tapped as a resource. If they don’t want to write for you, you could interview them and blog about it. Or take them out to lunch and pick their brain about questions they’re constantly getting asked to inspire a longer content piece.

Lay Out a Content Strategy

Now that you’ve figured out who’s doing what and attracted prospective customers to your site, you need to give these prospective customers the opportunity to convert. Content provides an opportunity for ecommerce conversions that aren’t only concerned with checkout. Two lightweight ways to immediately provide pre-purchase conversion opportunities are by adding a subscribe button to your blog or giving potential customers the option to sign up for an email newsletter.

Not sure where to get started with content? As a starting point, repurpose some of your blog posts into a standalone ebook that you can put behind a form. If you aren’t blogging yet, write a couple of blog posts with the intention of bundling them into an ebook at the end. You likely already have the content in different forms, you just have to bundle or repurpose it appropriately. You can create recipe collections, buying guides or lookbooks. Once you’ve created this content, point to it with clear CTAs. You want your prospective buyers to be able to find the helpful content you’re producing.

Ecommerce store Isharya, for instance, is using lookbooks, color collections and other useful content to drive increased visitors to her site. Each content piece has a beautiful photo (making it easy to share on social) and a strong CTA that links back to the appropriate product page.

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Help Prospective Customers Purchase

There are other ways to use content, too. Prospective customers are used to outbound marketing – they give up their email, only to be spammed constantly. In exchange for their email, prospective customers want something in return.

In ecommerce, it’s easy to give a discount code and call it day. But, a better way to encourage them to come back and purchase is by giving them content that they can actually use. Create helpful Youtube videos that show how to wear a look, give them a behind-the-scenes explanation as to how you source your products. Allow customers to get a feel for your personality. After all, customers don’t just buy based on price. They buy based on who they like, too.

Check out Stacy, founder and owner of Scrapbooking Made Simple. She regularly posts Youtube videos, many upward of 45 minutes long! And yes, she has viewers that follow her all the way through –– nearly 10,000 of them. For her, customers don’t just buy on price. They buy on personality.

…And Help Existing Customers Purchase More

And, once they’re customers, you can upsell them and nurture them into reordering – increasing their lifetime value (LTV) via a combination of personalization, email and marketing automation.

We’ve all had it happen to us – you buy a camera and then all of the sudden you’re getting emails about camera cases you might be interested in. Provide your customers with helpful and relevant upsell opportunities, and they’re more likely to take the bait. Alternatively, if your product expires or is consumable, send customers a friendly notification when they might be running low to encourage them to reorder.

Analyze, Analyze, Analyze

Now that you’ve done the work of moving your marketing inbound, take the time to analyze your efforts. What’s working? What isn’t? Maybe you thought your prospective buyers were on Twitter, but it turns out there are more of them on Facebook. Or maybe you thought your lookbook would be a huge hit, but your prospective buyers are only interested in your product guide. By analyzing the impact of your efforts, you can put your resources into the ones that are working, and take them out of the ones that aren’t – allowing you to make the most of your budget.

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