Embarking on your first inbound marketing strategy can feel overwhelming, but just like all big projects the best thing to do is to break the process into easy to manage steps.
Previously we introduced the concept of inbound marketing, and took a look at what it is and what it is not. Now, it’s time to look at the steps involved to create an effective inbound marketing strategy and hopefully throughout the course of this series you can navigate your own path to building a unique online marketing campaign that helps grow your business.
Step 1 – Identify your keywords
Keywords are the words or phrases that people type into search engines (mainly Google) when they are looking for products and services online. Generally people type in their problems, as they are searching for solutions and they may not know what that solution would be, so it is important to think from the perspective of the customer when choosing your keyword phrases.
For example you might own a sports therapy business, so a search term that a potential client would type into Google could be “back massage”. Your keywords provide the backbone to your inbound marketing strategy as a way of guiding ideal customers to find your website.
Step 2 – Optimise your website
Once you have chosen your keyword phrases your next task is to give your website the best chance for ranking as high as possible on the search engines for these phrases, so you need to ensure these words are placed in all the right locations on your website. This is called SEO or search engine optimisation.
Ideally you would like your website to appear on the first page of Google to make it easier for potential clients to click on your business. SEO can be something that you can do yourself on the website or you can pay for a professional SEO company to work towards getting your website to rank on the first page of Google.
Step 3 – Targeted Online Advertising
You might be thinking “hang on, I thought inbound marketing was against advertising?” And yes, blanket advertising to an untargeted audience is a waste of time and money. Today, however there are many ways of advertising online to the exact demographic of people that you wish to connect to.
For example if you have a product that is aimed at teenagers you can create a Facebook advertising campaign, with images, that’s only seen by the age group 13 to 18. Imagine how powerful that could be for your business?
Step 4 – Create a Blog
A blog is a page on your website that contains an RSS feed where you can post information about your products and services generally in 400-500 word posts. Without a blog, a website is like a brochure that doesn’t change regularly.
By having a blog it’s easy to update new information and search engines reward higher rankings to websites that constantly add fresh content – and these rankings make it easier for people to find your website so you can convert them into buying customers. Other content you can create for your website could be reports, guides, videos, demonstrations and tips about your products or services that help people understand more about what your business has to offer.
Step 5 – Time to get Social
There are thousands of online platforms, however the main ones we focus on as inbound marketers are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
As you can see, it’s not until the fifth step that we start to look at social media. A mistake many people make and when implementing their online marketing strategy is to jump to Facebook or Twitter first. Research where your target market is spending time online and participate in their conversations. Answer questions, be helpful but do not sell. Spend time listening and observing what their needs are and after some time, begin offering solutions to their problems.
Generally, the rule is if you have a service that’s business to business, LinkedIn is a great place to connect with your target market. If you have a product that is business to consumer, Facebook can be a good place to start. You should start from your blog or website then share information out on the social media platforms that are relevant to your business and engage with people there then bring people back to your website to develop the relationship.
Step 6 – Conversion
At this stage, you should be seeing an increase in visitors coming to your website. As discussed previously, there are generally two types of people searching on the web – researchers and buyers. Ideally, we’d love for people to arrive on our website and either buy from us straight away, however most people are researching and would like more information about your business. We can then offer them a taste of what we do via a free report, guide or video that explains what we do in more detail.
Think like a virtual sales person. Give them this information in exchange for their email address in order to follow up with them in the future to nurture the relationship you’ve started. This will mean you’ll have moved from just seeing visitors on your website, to having a list of potential leads to market to and convert into customers.
Step 7 – Email marketing
Around 70 percent of your leads will end up buying something from you or your competitors, but not straight away, according to Market Sherpa. Businesses that build relationships with their online leads over time have better success in converting those leads into buying customer by staying top-of-mind when they are ready to buy.
Lead nurturing is the process of developing relationships with your potential customers by sending valuable, relevant and targeted information to them at the right time. Forrester Research found that companies that excel at lead nurturing are able to generate 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent lower cost-per-lead.
Step 8 – Mobile Friendly
In 2011, 12 percent of Australians conducted online searches through their mobile device. In Europe, 55 percent of mobile users access the internet. This can be anything from looking to locate a business’ physical address through to checking out special offers. A quick test is to type in the address of your website in a smartphone and see how the website looks, is it easy to view and navigate?
Step 9 – Measure and manage
One of the great aspects of online marketing is the ability to easily see the effects of your efforts through analysing the numbers.
You can clearly see what information people are interested and eventually you’ll get to a stage where you know exactly which content you published led to which customers buying from you. A very basic tool you must have is Google Analytics, which can be installed on your website so you can see where your visitors are coming from and how long they spend on your website.
Step 10 – Repeat
Every three to six months you should review your keywords and work through your online marketing strategy again.
These ten steps will help you to develop a successful inbound marketing strategy for your business. Next week, we’ll take each of these steps and explain them in greater detail – starting with step one, identifying your keywords.