Is Inbound Marketing Dead for Motorsports?
Inbound marketing is about providing helpful information (i.e., content) and building trust. The best inbound marketing doesn’t feel like marketing at all and ultimately connects with your potential customers. It is not about selling your product so much as establishing your brand as knowledgeable and authoritative. So when people are looking for answers to their questions or solutions to their problems, you are best positioned to help answer them.
Many people in the motorsports space do not think inbound marketing will work for them, and they are skeptical about the benefits. If this is you, then here are some things you should consider.
The first and most important question to ask yourself is:
Do People in Motorsports Use the Internet to Solve Their Problems?
When you consider that over 90% of all online experiences begin with a search (source), the answer to this question becomes obvious.
Yes, just like virtually every other consumer out there today, customers in the motorsports industry are online, using the internet to solve their problems. For example, some might use the internet to track down a part unavailable locally. Others might be looking for information on how to set up specific components of their race car (i.e., engine, brakes, suspension, etc.). Still, others might be tapping their community of like-minded gearheads for reviews or experiences about new products.
This means that providing valuable information for motorsports professionals and fans is absolutely possible and imperative. Regardless of your target audience, inbound marketing can help you become the resource they go to for that information and, ultimately, for your product.
Want to learn more? Check out the Top 8 SEO Myths in the Racing Industry.
But Wait, What About Sponsorship?
The racing industry is unique in that sponsorship plays an outsized role in helping companies drive their business. While sponsorship still has value today, like advertising in general, its impact is diminishing over time. The truth is that advertising is only a portion of the marketing mix and one that does not always have the highest return on investment. With magazines and printed catalogs have gone the way of the dinosaur and most people watching races on streaming services that don't have ads or recording them just so they can skip the ads, that kind of advertising of race-related products is not as effective as it once was. Even internet advertising is becoming less effective as more people use ad blockers.
While sponsorship - and advertising, in general - will always have its place in the marketing mix, we must acknowledge the massive shift in buying behavior over the last 20 years. No longer do companies (ahem, salespeople) have all of the power in the buying process. Thanks to the internet, potential buyers can find any information they want online - including information about you. Buyers don’t need the salesperson anymore. 81% of retail buyers (source) conduct online research before buying, and 70% of B2B buyers (source) fully define their needs before engaging with a sales rep. If you are not positioned - via your website - to answer your buyers' questions, you can be sure that your competitors will.
How To Do Inbound Marketing in Motorsports
Buying is an emotional process, and when people decide to buy something, it is simply because they feel like it. Your job - through your marketing - is to overcome the prospects’ wants, fears, habits, and anxieties. You do this by helping them understand how you solve their problems so they can find your product or service as the path to their solution.
Inbound marketing is all about creating content that is helpful, above all. You need to create content that discusses the problems or pain points your prospective customers are facing.
Working across multiple channels helps you find your customers where they are. The three most effective channels are:
Having a regularly-updated blog keeps people coming back. Many people will subscribe to an interesting blog, perhaps without initially noticing who is posting the blog. However, this means they will come back to your site over and over again.
- Blog posts should be informational, not salesy. While it's okay to mention your product as the solution to a problem or pain point discussed in the blog, it should not be the main target. It's important to provide good images.
- Avoid AI writing, which is generally mediocre at best and cannot provide the kind of expertise or thought leadership you want to offer your customers.
Video content costs more to produce but is often worth it. Did you know that YouTube is the 2nd most popular search engine online (or 3rd, depending on who you ask, source)?
- Setting up a YouTube channel is one way to distribute videos, especially shorter ones, to a wide audience.
- Popular videos can be monetized, but this runs the risk of your direct competitors' ads appearing attached to your content. You may prefer to control your video content by embedding it on your own site.
- You can also use video to show part of an event live, assuming the event rules allow it. Webinars can be used to provide more in-depth information, and live webinars allow for feedback and communication between attendees that can lead to even more information being exchanged.
Providing a newsletter is not about providing "news" about your company but value-added material for your most loyal customers and/or prospects. Blogs and video content get customers in the door. A newsletter, done right, keeps them around and coming back.
- Newsletters should provide useful information that might go beyond what you put on your blog or specifically be aimed at people you already know use your product.
- Make sure that your newsletter is readable, give it a good subject line that also makes it clear who it is from, and then add a clear call to action at the end.
- Don't forget the unsubscribe link. Also, you are legally required to include a physical address (which can be a P.O. Box) to which unsubscribe requests can be sent.
Newsletters only work if they are opened.
- Be aware that Gmail, a very popular provider, clips emails if the text is over 102kb or contains even one special character. If your email is clipped, the recipient must click to read the rest, and many people won't. Keep your newsletters as small as possible.
- Send regularly and, ideally, on a day your audience expects to hear from you; this reduces unsubscribes.
So Now, Does Inbound Marketing Still Sound Dead to You?
Inbound marketing is far from dead for motorsports. As long as people are online and turning to the Internet to help answer their questions, you should be providing helpful information to answer those questions. This will allow you to capture the position of a trusted authority in your space, which leads to inquiries, referrals, and more business.