Let’s start with a simple question: is your current inbound marketing strategy making you any money?
Let’s face it, you’re not investing your time and money for nothing.
You’ve heard that 75 percent of inbound marketing channels cost less than outbound marketing channels, so you’re expecting results sooner than later.
But what if those results won’t come? Is inbound marketing really better than cold calling, buying email lists, or using obtrusive TV commercials?
The short answer is yes.
If you wait long enough to see results from your inbound marketing efforts with no tangible ROI, your strategy could be the problem.
Read on to see the components of a strong inbound marketing strategy.
It’s courteous to prepare a meal before inviting friends over for dinner. It’s rude to expect them to wait while you prepare it unless you told them they’ll have to wait.
With an inbound marketing strategy, you’re inviting friends for “dinner” on your web property. Courtesy demands you prepare a meal for their consumption. Content is that meal.
The problem is, while some marketers think of content as the only or most important part of an inbound marketing strategy, some ignore it completely. And still, others do not invest enough time or resources into creating excellent content.
But blogging is often the most recommended form of content usually because of its low barrier of entry. In fact, 53 percent of marketers say blogging is their top inbound marketing priority.
If you do not have the resources to write blog posts 4+ times a month, you can invest in compounding blog posts for greater ROI. According to HubSpot, over its lifetime, one compounding post creates as much traffic as six decaying posts. Here’s a chart showing the difference between the two.
If you can create only one type of post for your blog, invest in compounding posts, or what I call resource posts.
While a title like “The Best Refrigerators of 2017” is a decaying title, it’s just fine. For example, a fitting title for next year will be “The Best Selling Refrigerators of 2018,” and so on.
Here are some examples:
A blog post is just one type of content. Other forms of content you can create include podcasts, videos, case studies, white papers, quizzes, ebooks, etc.
You’ll be more successful with your content creation efforts if you have a content strategy.
If you have a significant budget, this is the fastest way to get to the top of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
In fact, like Econsultancy says, “if you know your way around the platform, you can set up a PPC campaign in less than an hour, and appear immediately in the sponsored results.”
Here’s what they look like in a Google search:
With PPC (Pay per Click) ads, you’re paying to appear on the top of search results. No waiting for SEO (more on that below).
Paid search has several advantages. They include but are not limited to:
- You can control when or how you’re seen on search engines.
- You don’t have to worry about Google or search engine algorithm updates ruining your position on search results.
- You appear faster on search results, compared to SEO.
- You can easily tell lucrative keywords for your business, unlike with SEO where you can spend months trying to rank for less profitable terms.
“But… But people ignore ads,” I can hear you say.
That’s not entirely true in this case. Here’s an interesting fact about Google Adwords: 40 percent of consumers are unaware that Google Adwords are adverts. That shows if you do it well, you’ll get a nice return on your investment.
That being said, if you do not have the budget for paid search, you can still incorporate “search” in your inbound marketing strategy in other ways. And that’s the next point.
There’s a fair amount of posts on SEO on this blog. Here are some you can start with:
If you don’t have the budget for paid search, you should be optimizing your content and your site for search engines. Otherwise, your business will live in obscurity on the web.
You’ll need patience here because it may take some time to see results, but if you’re doing it well, the results will come.
Some parts of SEO can be sophisticated, especially for non-geeky folks, but you don’t have to do it all on your own. You can use resources you’ll find here, like the ones mentioned above, or tons of others you’ll find if you do a little research online. Alternatively, you can also seek the help of an expert.
Remember, creating content like compounding blog posts mentioned earlier makes it easier for your site to get links, which is an important factor in SEO.
For example, see the number of sites linking to this post, via Moz’s Open Site Explorer.
It ranks at #1 on Google for “guest blogging.”
If you have the budget, paid search and SEO is a great combo for your inbound marketing strategy.
It goes without saying: if you run a business, you should be on social media.
When you create great content and you’re using paid search and/or SEO to attract visitors to your site, social media can amplify your efforts.
There are lots of social media sites and which sites you choose to focus on will depend on your ideal customers, the type of content you’re creating (YouTube is for videos for example), and even available resources like time and money.
Don’t spread yourself thin by spending time on too many sites at once. Pick one or two social media sites (three at most for starters), and spend time building authority on them. Yes, that is still valid advice even though someone else manages social media for your business.
“Share content on social media” is conventional wisdom. But if you have a small following it can only get you so far. Besides, some platforms like Facebook are pay to play nowadays. Can you see where this is heading?
Social media advertising.
Amplify your content’s reach by using social media advertising. You can use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and even Snapchat advertising as part of your inbound marketing strategy.
As with content creation, create a strategy and tweak it as you get feedback from your prospects and customers.
When the “content is king” movement began ten years ago courtesy of an article by Bill Gates, many marketers rehashed the phrase so much that it’s now cliché.
Well, a design may not be king, but it is important. Here are some statistics to support that:
- Given 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds of people would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain. (Source: Adobe)
- 39 percent of people will stop engaging with a website if images don’t load or take too long to load. (Source: Adobe)
- 62 percent of companies that designed a website solely for mobile had increased sales. (Source: Econsultancy)
- Mobile devices account for two out of every three minutes spent online. (Source: comScore)
Sure, website design encompasses much more than the statistics above. But it is still an important part of an inbound marketing strategy. Otherwise, why spend time and money creating content and driving traffic to your site only for the visitors to bounce after three seconds because of the poor design or terrible functionality of your website?
To help you, according to Orbit Media, these are some things the top 50 websites are doing:
- Responsive design: 68 percent of websites are mobile friendly, using responsive web design. This gives visitors a great view no matter what device they’re using.
- Main navigation across the top: 88 percent of the top fifty websites have their main navigation in the header on the top of every page.
- Value proposition high up the homepage: 80 percent of marketing websites have a value proposition located high up on the homepage.
- Call to action (CTA): 78 percent of websites have calls to action prominently featured on the home page.
- The search feature in the header: 54 percent of websites have a search feature in the header.
These are by no means rules, but your website should be user-friendly enough to support your inbound marketing activities. Heatmap tools can help you discover what visitors do on your site through recordings, analyses of your signup forms, and much more.
After driving traffic to your website through good SEO practices or PPC, and keeping the visitors on your site with a combination of great content and excellent web design, what happens if the prospects are not yet ready to buy?
This is where lead generation comes in.
Sometimes prospects need more time to decide whether your product or service is right for them. Sometimes they need more information before they can make a decision. Still, other times, they’re not buying because they can’t afford your products or they’re just window-shopping.
When you people show interest in your product, it’s your responsibility to keep the lines of communication open with them so that if they’re not buying from you now, you can convert them into paying customers in future. That process is called lead generation.
Basically, here are some typical routes for lead generation:
Creating offers for all stages of the buying cycle is an important part of lead generation. For example, someone who’s more familiar with your product knows what it does and why they need it may need a free trial or demo. Another who’s not so sure why they need your product or how it can help them may need a detailed (compounding) blog post, an ebook, a case study, or whitepaper.
Don’t use boring or generic calls to action (CTA). For example, if you’re offering an ebook on “How to increase sales with cold emails,” using “Submit” as the CTA is boring. Use “Increase my sales,” or “I want to increase my sales.” It could be anything else, just don’t use generic CTAs.
Keep testing your CTAs so you can decide which ones convert better.
Creating a successful inbound marketing strategy often sounds like hard work, but it doesn’t have to be like that.
Thanks to incorporating the six components you’ve just read, you’ll be on a path to success if you’re patient and consistent.
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