Effective inbound marketing consists of online tactics that attract visitors to your website through links or search. The customer comes to you instead of you going to the customer. Sounds good, right? It’s a beautiful combination of on-page SEO with content marketing and email marketing mixed in. This should tell you that inbound marketing is a long-term game.
Inbound marketing tactics include:
- search engine optimization (SEO)
- link building
- improving copy to include keywords
- appearing higher in searches and online page ranks
- creating content that attracts and engages
- multiple opt-in opportunities
- social media posts
These tactics often overlap and complement each other. But it can take some time to find the right combination and strategy that works with your target audience, your budget and your team’s capabilities.
For an introduction to inbound marketing it goes something like this:
1. Make your website easy to find and easy to access by using the above inbound tactics.
2. Potential customer finds your content/website.
3. Website contains some kind of opt-in opportunity so you can collect their contact information and market or sell to them in the future (building trust and brand recognition).
The inbound marketing process
Although the steps are simple, it’s a process that requires a balance of tactics and a clear understanding of your target audience. Knowledge of your audience is key to identifying useful keywords (they may use these in their online searches), hot topics of interest (to create opt-in content and build your email list), industry publications (offer free articles or interviews as content), and additional opportunities (local events to attend or sponsor, industry leaders to reach out to, etc.) With this knowledge you can begin crafting your inbound strategy.
And this is where your team’s capabilities come intoplay. If your team can’t do social listening or other research to uncover the above pieces on your target audience then your marketing as a whole may be missing the mark. This preliminary research should not be overlooked.
An inbound marketing strategy should focus on achieving certain goals. This may be to increase the number of leads, increase brand awareness, increase the number of inquiries, etc. Whatever your goals are there should be a way to measure success.
Every organization will employ an inbound marketing strategy that is unique to their organization. There is no cookie-cutter solution, but each solution does employ similar tactics in differing proportions. Creating an inbound marketing strategy and implementing it can be similar to piecing together a complex jigsaw puzzle – each piece contributes to the whole and should be executed together for a full effect.
Your inbound strategy may involve ads, content and SEO. Someone else’s may focus on social media, influencers and content.
In an inbound marketing strategy it’s important to track and measure at specific points to guage where you can improve and what’s working well. Looking at conversion rates is key e.g. traffic to opt-in to purchase. This kind of closed-loop marketing is key to identifying what works and what doesn’t so you can adjust it and make it more successful. If you are new to marketing, this kind of ‘editing’ is necessary in order to find your organization’s ‘sweet spot’ with your target audience. By tracking and measuring the results you can monitor the improvements as they happen and understand even more about your target audience. You can track this manually on a spreadsheet with UTMs or you can use software that does a lot of this for you.
Once prospects are in your system it’s key to continue to engage and delight. Whether this is moving a prospect into client status, repeat customer or advocate it is most commonly done through email marketing. Make sure you segment to keep clear on your goals and tracking.
By employing ongoing marketing to your list you work at attracting qualified prospects and nurishing them into customers. The best part is most (if not all) of this can be automated! In fact, that’s the best part! Once you’re created your high-caliber content you can set a lot of this up as marketing automation and maximize your time.
Where to start
If the concept of inbound marketing is new to you then here are a few pointers on where to start.
- Ideal audience research
- Learn everything you can about your target audience. This will help you with pain points, content types, and keywords.
- Look at your list of keywords that you need to rank for in organic search. It’s important to look at both highly competitive ones (for competitor research) and long-tail (for easily ranked keywords).
- Start creating content. Each piece should have a specific function and lead to a targeted offer. Content type would depend on your audience’s preference e.g. report, video, blog post, podcast, etc.
- Look at CRMs and marketing automation platfomrs to help you deliver and track content.
And of course, if you need any additional guidance around setting this up in your small business please reach out. Happy to chat!