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Let’s say your startup has been successful for a while now. You have a solid product and several new employees on board. Your business is growing quickly, but you know you can’t rely on your website alone to drive sales. If you’re ready to invest in low-cost marketing that can give you the most value for your investment, inbound marketing may be a great fit for your business.
Inbound Marketing Benefits
- Encourages social media shares and inbound links.
- Allows customers to take the lead.
- Helps fuel search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
- Increases brand awareness.
- Gives customers the ability to engage with your brand on their schedule.
- Generates qualified leads at a reasonable price (when compared to traditional marketing).
Inbound Marketing Methodology
Inbound marketing focuses on creating reasons for your customers to come to you, instead of simply broadcasting out your messages to them like traditional (outbound) marketing. According to HubSpot, the company that coined the term “inbound marketing” back in 2006, the strategy consists of four stages:
The first stage of the process involves attracting visitors with compelling content. They’ll find this content on another site, social media, or in the search engine results. Next, you need to convert these visitors into leads by using a lead generation form. Then, you close the deal, and you officially have a customer. Finally, you delight your customer with engaging content. This model has worked for some of the best companies in the world and grown thousands of startups.
Here are 11 tactics and tips you can use to make inbound marketing work for your B2C or B2B organization.
1. Create Your Persona(s)
The most important step in building an inbound marketing program is creating buyer personas. These personas give an overview of who your target customers are, what they want to learn about, and why they’re interested in your product. When creating your buyer persona(s), consider leveraging customer demographics, behavior patterns, goals, and motivations. To create your personas, you’ll need to do some research. Here are three ways you can do so:
- Explore Social Media Insights. To craft your customer profiles, you must understand the demographics of your customers. If you already have a few hundred followers on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, you can use the in-network analytics to find out the age, sex, location, and interests of your current followers.This can give you a general feel for who is interested in your startup, but there’s more you need to know.
- Survey Your Current Customers. If you already have an email list, you can send customers a simple form through SurveyMonkey. Ask your customers what it is they struggle with most and how they like to receive information around addressing these struggles (blogs, eBooks, emails, etc.?)
- Conduct Interviews. Once you know the basics about your target customer(s), you can start seeking out contacts that can provide you with additional helpful information. Ask the customers who responded to your first survey if they’d mind giving your more insights around their current struggles on a 10-minute phone call or video chat. Learn what solutions they’re tried before that didn’t work for them and why. Also ask why they chose to invest in your solutions.
2. Learn How to Write Great Headlines
Once you know who your audience is, it’s time to create great content that attracts that audience. Every great piece of content must have a brilliant headline to drive traffic and engagement. Include your target keyword, and focus on answering your customer’s key questions. One interesting way to drive engagement with your headlines is by introducing an element of negativity, according to WordStream.
Of course, you shouldn’t always have negative headlines. But it is interesting to incorporate them when it makes sense!
3. Blog, Blog and The Blog Some More
According to SevenAtoms, companies who blog receive 97 percent more leads to their websites than companies that don’t. As an added bonus, blog posts are the most effective type of content at bringing in leads. Focus on your customer first, and post on a consistent basis.
4. Launch an Email Course
Another form of content that’s been proven to drive new leads is the email course. An email course is an easy way to promote your content to your customers. The best part is, it doesn’t cost any money to send emails, and they don’t require a large amount of design or investment. One example is Buffer’s email course on social media growth.
5. Optimize Each Page of Content for One Keyword
As you begin to create these different types of content, you need to be sure you’re optimizing the content so that it can be seen by as many people as possible. While there are many strategies to improve SEO, one of the most important is keyword optimization. This involves researching specific keywords you’ll use to target your content. For best results, focus on one keyword/topic per page and cover the content as comprehensively as possible. Use your chosen keyword across the page in a natural way, without going overboard.
6. Use Clear Calls to Action (CTAs)
An ineffective CTA can be the death of your blog or email campaign. Each piece of content should inspire the visitor to take action, usually to make a purchase or request additional information. Your CTA should stand out from the rest of the page in terms of color and style and the text should be tailored to your offering. See the example from the TNW conference below.
7. Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
With recent Google algorithm changes, one of the best ways to increase your organic search traffic is by making your website more mobile-friendly. The number of mobile searches continues to grow each year, and if your site isn’t responsive, you’re going to struggle with rankings. According to WVO, out of 100 leading websites, only 11 were responsive, and only seven of 148 companies felt the need for mobile optimization. It may seem obvious, but when your website is mobile responsive, Google will take notice.
8. Invest in Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing can be a great way to grow excitement around your brand. According to Column Five and Microsoft, 84 percent of global marketers plan on launching influencer-based programs this year. Make sure you appeal to the right influencers. These influencers should be able to engage and influence your target audience. Your earlier persona work will help here, but you’ll probably also need to do some digging on Twitter and other social networks. There are also paid tools, such as BuzzSumo, that can help. According to Flying Point Digital, 84 percent of brands manually find influencers rather than using identification tools.
9. Focus on Educating Buyers
Some of the top companies in the world are brilliant at educating their buyers. Take Amazon as an example. Amazon product pages are full of information, including photos, measurements, reviews, and more. Customers feel like they are making an informed decision when they make an Amazon purchase.
Next time you advertise a new product or service, think about all of the questions your customers may ask (“what size is it?” “how have other people rated this product?” “Does it come as part of a package?” “What happens if it breaks?” etc.) and answer them. This inspires customer confidence and creates a clear, easy, information-rich buying process.
10. Go Heavy on Social
It’s difficult to be successful in inbound marketing if you don’t invest a large amount of time on social media. But don’t join every network and post about just anything. Remember that social media is all about being social and having a conversation with your prospects and customers. Choose a few networks to focus on. Here’s a chart from Smart Insights that may help, but remember that it’s less about number of users and more about where your particular buyers are most engaged.
Use social media to promote your own content and share insights from your industry. Don’t depend on social for your conversions, but do think of it as a great tool to build your brand.
11. Focus on Free Content
As a marketer, you’re always going to be driving toward product sales, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need content to drive your inbound strategy and build awareness and the beginning of your buyer’s cycle. Your potential customers will appreciate free, fun and educational content that ties back to your brand. You need to give prospects the ability to connect with your brand before they make a purchase. This could be anything from whitepapers or eBooks to blogs or email content.
Unlike traditional outbound marketing methods that interrupt consumers and try to get in front of as many people as possible, inbound marketing takes a targeted approach, presenting relevant information to potential leads.