Inbound marketing is one of the most in-demand skills for 2015. And with good reason – inbound marketers double the average site conversion rate from 6% to 12% and inbound practices produce 54% more leads than traditional outbound practices. Inbound marketing is also super cost-effective – a Mashable report has revealed that it costs 62% less per lead than its traditional outbound counterpart.
Wow! Now you want to be an inbound marketer don’t you?
Well then, let’s divulge and discuss the 6 skills you need to learn, practice, craft and ultimately master…
What is inbound marketing anyway? According to HubSpot, the inbound marketing experts, ‘Inbound is a mindset adopted by marketers who realize they’ll more effectively generate new business by creating — not interrupting – the content their prospects actually want to consume.’
So you want to be an inbound marketer – the kind of marketer who draws people in by creating experiences they want and need rather than pushing them away with messages they never asked for?
This way please…
A solid grasp of search engine marketing is essential for any budding inbound marketer. You will need to, for example, know how to optimize web pages using relevant user-focused content and cleverly crafted meta tags and descriptions. You will also need to understand and learn how to use more technical techniques like canonicalisation to avoid duplicate content.
A good understanding of Google’s quality guidelines is essential – these will teach you that the only way to rank higher is to add value as well as shedding light on the blackhat techniques that could get you penalized. Learn more about how Google thinks and how to use its Webmaster tools by visiting the Webmaster Learning Academy.
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The best inbound marketers are natural-born networkers with loveable personalities. But what makes them so likeable? Well, it’s because they genuinely like people – they’re interested in connecting with people in the industry, finding out about them and helping them out.
To become a well-connected inbound marketer it’s important to attend industry events, stay active on Twitter and know how to identify, connect and engage with with key influencers. When looking for a new job it’s always helpful if you’ve built up a network of loyal and influential social media followers – this will give you an advantage when approaching influencers for guest blogging opportunities and mutually beneficial partnerships, for example.
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Content creation has become an essential component of inbound marketing. You need to understand the purpose of creating valuable content that inspires people to feel and act. You see, whether you’re writing blog posts, creating videos, crafting whitepapers or writing emails, effective inbound marketing tells a story – a story that matters to people.
As an inbound marketer you will need to understand how to get to the heart of the ‘why should I care’ immediately and understand how to capture and pull the reader in by making it all about them – because it should be. Speak to their needs, desires and motivations and no-one will ever call your content boring, uninspired or unoriginal.
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You will need to have an analytical mind to be an effective inbound marketer. Gaining a solid grasp of Google Analytics is essential for you to understand the tactics that are working in your inbound strategy and those that are not delivering the results you need. You can learn how to use Google Analytics by visiting Google Analytics Academy – it’s well worth taking the exam and getting certified.
Learn the most important Google Analytics paths for SEO like Referral Traffic, Site Search and Campaigns. Other useful inbound marketing tools to master are Followerwonk, BuzzSumo and Sprout Social. BuzzSumo is our favorite tool for helping us to identify key influencers and analyse our best performing content.
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The SEO world moves at a wondrously-fast pace – every other week there seems to be a new update to Google’s algorithm. Inbound marketers must adapt or risk getting left behind, their websites getting penalized and careers being made redundant. But how do you keep up?
Start by reading industry blogs like Inbound.org, Moz Blog, Search Engine Land and Search Engine Journal. It is essential to remain passionate about the industry and to invest time and energy into understanding the specifics of each new algorithm. Even better: seek to understand how Google’s mind works to stay ahead of the SEO curve. Here’s a clue – with every update Google is becoming more and more human.
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You have to understand that inbound marketing is not a quick fix – it produces long-term results. As an inbound marketer, you know that good things come to those who wait and those who practice good whitehat techniques. Producing quality content takes time as does fostering valuable relationships.
Founder of HubSpot, Mike Volpe advises inbound marketers not to worry about producing results in the short-term. He says that it is most likely that you will not reap your rewards within the first 3-6 months but when they do come to fruition they will be worth the wait. For example, Mike says that blog posts he’s written 7 years ago are still generating leads for his business today.
Read Rand Fishkin’s post on the top 12 skills that have served him best in his SEO career: http://moz.com/blog/the-12-skills-that-have-served-me-best-in-my-seo-career Though he wrote it in 2009 many of those skills still remain relevant today – just goes to show that if you learn the right skills they really will stand the test of time. Good luck!