The Five Most Important Principles of Inbound Marketing (SCOPE)
Once upon a time, before the internet was a thing, traditional advertising methods such as TV commercials, billboards, and print ads were the only way to reach potential customers. Inbound marketing didn’t exist, and companies relied heavily on outbound marketing to get their message out there.
Fast forward to today, and the marketing landscape has drastically changed. The rise of the internet and social media has given companies access to a whole new world of marketing opportunities.
Inbound marketing has become the go-to strategy for businesses looking to attract, engage and convert customers.
So, what exactly is inbound marketing?
Simply put, it’s a strategy that involves creating valuable content and experiences tailored to a specific target audience. This content is designed to attract potential customers to your business rather than interrupting them with unwanted ads.
The goal is to build trust, establish relationships, and ultimately drive conversions.
This article aims to enhance your understanding of inbound marketing by delving into its core principles:
- S = Standardize: keep your story consistent for different users
- C = Contextualize: make the content relevant to your target audience
- O = Optimize: make it better
- P = Personalize: connect with your target audience on an individual level
- E = Empathize: understand and address the pain points of your target audience
Abbreviated as SCOPE, these five principles are a guiding framework for effectively applying inbound marketing strategies.
Regardless of what marketing activity you’re focusing on –email marketing, social media, or content creation– SCOPE principles are meant to help you create a cohesive and effective inbound marketing campaign.
So, whenever you’re working on inbound marketing, keep in mind these principles and ask yourself:
- Is my message consistent across all platforms?
- Am I tailoring my content to the specific interests of my target audience?
- Are my efforts optimized for search engines? Is my content easy for my audience to find?
- Am I building personal connections with potential customers? If so, how?
- Do I understand and address the pain points of my target audience?
Standardize: Scale Your Story and Keep It Consistent
In consistency lies power. When your audience sees the same story across all platforms, you become a credible source in their eyes. Consistency breeds familiarity, trust, and reliability. It also helps to establish a brand identity that resonates with your target audience.
So, how do you keep your story consistent and authentic?
Understand Your Overall Content Strategy
First, you have to understand your overall narrative. What are the key messages you want to convey? Who is your target audience, and what platforms do they use?
Every content piece should support your overarching narrative and align with the interests and preferences of your target audience.
For instance, a dentist targeting young adults will have a different approach than one targeting senior citizens. The messaging, tone, and platforms they use for content distribution will differ.
Use Brand Guidelines
Brand guidelines are a set of rules that dictate how your brand should be represented visually and tonally.
These guidelines ensure consistent messaging, design elements, tone, and voice across all platforms. They also help maintain a cohesive brand image that resonates with your target audience.
For example, Coca-Cola’s brand guidelines include a specific font, colour scheme, and tone of voice consistently used in all of its marketing materials. That has made their brand image easily recognizable and consistent.
Train Your Team
Your team must see the bigger picture and understand the overall messaging and branding goals. Train them on the brand guidelines and ensure they follow them diligently.
For larger companies, it helps to have a dedicated team or an individual who will oversee your overall content effort to ensure consistency and quality.
Every Content Piece Must be Part of a Content Tree or Pillar
A content tree or pillar is a group of related content pieces supporting the same overarching message. That will ensure every content piece is connected and reinforces your brand messaging.
For example, if you promote a new product, all your social media posts, blog articles, and email campaigns should tie back to this product, creating a cohesive story for your audience.
By standardizing your brand messaging and creating consistent experiences for your audience, you establish trust and credibility, making it easier to convert potential customers into loyal ones.
Work On Your Conversion Funnel
A conversion funnel is a series of steps potential customers go through before purchasing from your business. Understanding this funnel allows you to tailor your content to guide potential customers through each step.
For example, if a customer is in the ‘awareness’ stage of the funnel, they may be looking for educational content to learn about a problem they are facing. By providing relevant and helpful information at this stage, you can establish trust with the customer and move them along to the next stage of the funnel.
Next, this customer may be in the ‘consideration’ stage, where they are researching potential solutions. At this point, your content should focus on showcasing how your product or service can solve their problem and address their pain points.
It goes like that until the customer reaches the ‘decision’ stage, where they are ready to purchase. Your content should be focused on persuading and closing the sale at this stage.
Choose a Colour Palette and Stick to It
Consistency stretches to the visual element of your content as well. Choose a colour palette that aligns with your brand guidelines and stick to it across all platforms.
That can include using the same colours in your social media posts, website design, and marketing materials.
By consistently using the same colours, you create visual recognition for your brand, making it easier for potential customers to associate the colours with your business.
Use one of the colour palette generators we have listed here, such as Coolors.co or Canva’s colour palette generator, to create a cohesive and visually appealing colour scheme for your brand.
Contextualize: make the content relevant to your target audience
After standardizing your brand messaging, the next thing you want to focus on is making sure your content is tailored to the specific interests of your target audience.
Contextualizing means offering the right content at the right time to the right audience. It’s about being as relevant and helpful as possible to your audience. And it’s not just with written content but also with visuals, videos, and any other forms of content you create.
When your content meets your target audience’s specific needs, interests, and pain points, it becomes more valuable to them.
So, how do you contextualize your content?
Here are some helpful tips:
- Research and understand your target audience: Know who you are speaking to before creating content. Conduct market research, gather data, and create buyer personas to understand their demographics, interests, behaviour patterns, and pain points.
- Address specific pain points: Use the information gathered from your research to identify the most significant pain points your target audience faces. Then, create content that addresses those pain points and offers solutions.
- Use personalization: Personalized content is more effective in connecting with your audience and building relationships. Personalize the content by using their name, location, or other relevant information.
- Consider different formats: Your target audience may prefer different types of content, such as videos, infographics, or podcasts. Consider creating content in these other formats to reach a wider audience and provide them with valuable information in a format they prefer.
- Decide which channel to use: Different channels may be more effective for reaching different segments of your target audience. For example, social media is a great way to reach younger audiences, while email marketing may work better with older demographics. Determine which channels are most relevant to your audience and focus on creating content for those platforms.
- Create helpful resources: Ask yourself, “What online resources could my target audience be interested in that relate to my business?” Then, create and share those resources with your audience. The resources could be articles, free ebooks, a web app, or any other relevant content that adds value to your target audience.
Optimize: Make It Better
Optimizing is like the final touches on your content. It’s where you ensure your content is top-notch and ready to be shared with the world.
It’s what you do last after focusing on making the content relevant and valuable. Optimizing your content involves editing, proofreading, and fine-tuning it to ensure it is error-free, easy to read, accessible, SEO-friendly, and visually appealing.
Here are some tips for optimizing your content:
- Proofread and edit: Before publishing any content, proofread it thoroughly for spelling and grammar errors. It’s also a good idea to have someone else read it to catch any mistakes you may have overlooked. Additionally, consider using editing tools such as Grammarly or Hemingway to help improve your writing.
- Use subheadings: Break up your content with descriptive subheadings that make it easier for readers to navigate and digest. Subheadings also make your content more scannable, allowing readers to quickly find the information they need.
- Incorporate keywords: Ensure you use relevant keywords throughout your content to improve its visibility in search engines. However, use them naturally and avoid keyword stuffing, which can hurt your SEO.
- Use visuals: Including images, videos, or infographics in your content can make it more engaging and visually appealing. Visuals can also help to break up text-heavy content and make it easier for readers to understand the information.
- Optimize for accessibility: Make sure your content is accessible to all audiences, including those with disabilities. That may include providing alt text for images, using descriptive captions for videos, and having a clear hierarchical structure in your headings.
- Use social share buttons: Encourage readers to share your content by including social share buttons on your website or blog. It can help increase your content’s reach and potentially attract new audiences.
Content Optimization Tools You Should Have in Your Marketing Arsenal:
- Surfer SEO: A comprehensive SEO tool that allows you to analyze and optimize your content for search engines.
- Yoast SEO: A popular WordPress plugin that helps you optimize your website’s content for better visibility in search engines
- Hemingway App: An editing tool that highlights complex sentences, passive voice, and other areas of improvement in your writing.
- Canva: An online design tool with templates and easy-to-use features for creating high-quality visuals to accompany your content.
- Grammarly: A writing assistant that helps you catch spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors in your content
Personalize: Make It Special
Personalization is the key to connecting with your audience and making them feel valued. It involves tailoring your content, messaging, and overall marketing efforts to specific individuals or segments of your target audience.
It reinforces the feeling that you understand your audience’s needs enough to provide them with tailored solutions.
Here’s how you can add a personal touch to your inbound marketing efforts:
- Use segmentation: By segmenting your audience based on demographics, interests, or behavior, you create targeted content that resonates with specific groups of individuals.
- Write in the second person: Using “you” and “your” in your content can make it feel more personal and direct. It creates a conversation between you and the reader, making them feel like you are speaking directly to them.
- Utilize user-generated content: Incorporating user-generated content, such as reviews or testimonials, into your marketing efforts can add a personal touch and show that real people benefit from your products or services.
- Send personalized emails: Instead of sending generic email blasts, try personalizing your emails with the recipient’s name and other relevant information. That can make the recipient feel more valued and increase their chances of engaging with your content.
- Use personalization software: You can use various tools to personalize your website, email marketing, and other efforts based on user data. These tools use algorithms and machine learning to deliver personalized experiences to your target audience.
Examples include Dynamic Yield, Evergage, and Optimizely.
Empathize: Make It Human
In the age of AI and automation, it’s easy to lose the human touch in our marketing efforts. We can automate almost every aspect of our inbound marketing strategies, but we shouldn’t forget that at the end of the day, there are real people behind the screens consuming our content.
To truly connect with your audience and establish a meaningful relationship, you need to empathize with them. That means understanding their pain points, needs, and desires and showing genuine empathy.
Here’s how you can infuse empathy into your inbound marketing efforts:
- Less About You and More About them: Instead of constantly promoting your products or services, focus on providing valuable solutions and addressing the needs of your target audience. That shows that you care about their well-being rather than just making a sale.
- Use storytelling: People connect with stories, so using storytelling in your marketing efforts can help humanize your brand and interact with your audience on an emotional level. Share stories from your customers, employees, or even personal experiences to create a connection with your audience.
- Listen and respond: Listen to your audience’s feedback and respond promptly and genuinely. That shows that you value their opinions and are willing to address any concerns they may have.
- Be authentic: Don’t try to be something you’re not. Instead, be transparent and authentic in your marketing efforts. That helps build trust with your audience and allows them to see the human side of your brand.
- Volunteer or support a cause: Show empathy for causes that align with your brand values by volunteering or supporting them. That shows that you care about something bigger than just profits and can attract like-minded individuals to your brand.
- Keep It Simple: In today’s fast-paced world, people have short attention spans and are bombarded with endless information. Avoid using technical jargon or complex language that may confuse your audience. You want to use the most straightforward design, language, and format to ensure your content is easily digestible and accessible to a broader audience.
- Be Inclusive: Inclusivity is crucial in today’s diverse world. It ensures your content represents and speaks to people from all backgrounds, cultures, abilities, and identities.
Every content pillar you create should target a specific persona with a specific pain point. Think about this segment of your audience, talk to a few of them to understand their specific needs, and write your content for them.
As an inclusive marketer, you should also consider using alternate text (alt text) for images and video captions to make your content accessible to individuals with disabilities.
Additionally, be conscious of the language and visuals used in your content to avoid any potential biases or exclusion of certain groups.
It’s a Wrap
As we mentioned, it doesn’t matter what strategy, channel, method, or tool you’re using. These five principles of inbound marketing should always be the guiding force behind everything inbound you do.
Personalize, empathize, keep it simple, and be inclusive in your inbound marketing efforts to connect with your audience and drive meaningful results for your brand.
By putting the needs and interests of your audience at the forefront, you’re one step closer to building a loyal customer base and achieving long-term marketing success.