Expert Panel: Colleen Jones, Michael Solomon & Mike Glover
If you were to trace its history, you’d perhaps go back to more than a hundred years ago when Cyrus Hall McCormick developed a few elementary strategies that we would now call inbound marketing. Over the last decade, these strategies have since evolved greatly and have become a mainstay in all discussions involving modern marketing tactics.
In this series of interviews with experts we focus on how you can keep your inbound marketing strategy current and effective. But first, here’s a brief introduction to the experts who’ve weighed in with their thoughts and tips.
Colleen Jones is the founder and CEO of Content Science, which is a content intelligence and strategy firm. She has been an advocate of impactful content much before it became a buzzword. She has also authored Clout, a top-selling book that guides marketers in understanding the psychology of content consumers and helps them plan and evaluate their content strategy.
Michael Solomon is Professor of Marketing and Director of the Center for Consumer Research at Saint Joseph’s University (Philadelphia). He has delivered lectures on subjects ranging from branding strategy to the psychology of fashion at several universities in Asia, Australia, Scandinavia, Latin America and The United Kingdom. His articles have also been published in several academic journals.
Mike Glover is the content and social media manager for ECPI University where he leads a team of 5 specialists in web development, social media, content and graphic design to build brand awareness, loyalty and engagement for ECPI University. He has been working in website development, SEO and inbound marketing for over 13 years in a variety of industries.
Q1. Which do you think are the three most important channels for inbound marketing?
Colleen: “Generally, your website, email, and social media offer the best way to reach and connect with potential customers. Create an inbound marketing system guided by a smart strategy where these three channels work together to attract and convert your customers.”
Michael: “The answer obviously depends on what business you’re in and more importantly what your strategic objectives are. Too often marketers jump on a platform because it’s “hot” rather than because it will deliver the results they need. Having said that, right now if you define inbound marketing as earned media rather than paid or owned media, some powerful channels include blogs, well-done and informative video and webinars, and LinkedIn (especially for B2B marketing). Too many people think of the latter as just a way to look for jobs, but my sense is that today the majority of business leads come from proactive usage of this platform.”
Mike: “By far, the first and most important channel is the search engines. People are out there everyday searching for answers about your products or service. Building and publishing quality content that answers those questions and that is served up by the search engines by far is the most effective way to drive traffic to a website. After that, the next channel would be the “Primary Social Media” properties such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. Sharing content on these channels can not only drive traffic, but provide other benefits such as social proof (if other people liked this content…it must be good!), viral/organic sharing of content with their networks and even link building opportunities. Lastly, the “Secondary Social Media Channels” such as Reddit, Stumbleupon, Digg, etc. These channels are harder to work in as a marketer because the communities are so close knit and hate spammers, but if you do it right, they can deliver a ton of traffic and links to your site!”
Q2. What are your top 2 tips for inbound marketers?
Colleen: “First, attract the right customers. That means you have to clearly define who the right customers are. If you try to reach everyone, you will reach no one.
Second, define the buyer journey and look for opportunities to support buyers in their journey with helpful content. Look for “magic moments” during the journey where you can delight potential customers.”
Michael: “Be relevant and be judicious. In other words, share content that the receiver thinks is important rather than what you think is important and more importantly, don’t overdo it.”
Mike: “The number one tip I have is…NEVER GIVE UP! Most people start some form of Inbound Marketing because they heard about it through a friend, colleague, trade show or blog post they stumbled across. They write a few blog articles and publish them and then sit back and wait for the flood gates to open after a few weeks or months, which rarely happens. Then they quit. The key to Inbound Marketing is consistent content publishing and promotion combined with effective nurture and then delighting customers! The number two tip I have is to never stop the testing and improvement cycle. Always look for new ways to engage your audience, add value to your content and nurture those upper funnel leads.”
Q3. What are the 2 best ways to use social media for inbound marketing?
Colleen: “First, Position yourself as a trusted advisor or helpful guide on social media. Share your own content and curate content offered by others. You also can try to entertain people, but in my experience that is harder to execute well.
Second, start a more personal relationship by answering people’s questions about you, responding to their comments about you, and even asking them questions. You’ll not only engage them more deeply, you’ll probably learn more about their wants, needs, and questions, which can help you create better content for inbound marketing.”
Michael: “Social media is an incredibly powerful vehicle to let your publics know what you’re up to – and why they should care. But, you need to walk a fine line between keeping yourself in a trending position and overwhelming recipients with yet another update that they will automatically delete. Choose your battles, but when you identify the issues where you do want to make a splash don’t rely on just one platform and of course create content that’s so engaging your customers want to help you make it a viral success.”
Mike: “The most obvious way to use social media is for sharing your content to drive traffic. It’s simple, easy and if you do it well, can reach new customers through your existing fan base and their network of family and friends. The other way to use social media to earn credibility by having industry professionals share and comment on your content. This validates your work and tells others that visit your content that you did a good job and your information can be trusted.”
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