Do you feel a little lost in the wilderness of inbound marketing terms? Last month, I explained the inbound marketing process with a handy infographic. Hopefully you’ve seen it and found it helpful. Sometimes, though, marketers can sound like we’re speaking another language. So to keep everyone on the same path to success, I present the basics of inbound marketing in a classic format – the alphabet.
I’m here to save you a little bit of stress from the beginning. Your marketing plan won’t be perfect from the start. Nothing is set in stone so be flexible and willing to adjust where needed. Pay attention to analytics and feedback you’re getting from leads. If one email newsletter format is getting more clicks than another, try switching the second up. Great results don’t happen overnight but tweaking your plan as you go can help!
Informational, educational and (hopefully) entertaining. Blogs are meant to generate potential leads without blatantly pushing a product. The focus is not on you, it’s on the customer. Think of questions the customer might have and try to help them before selling to them. Blogs help drive website traffic, serve as lead generation and show off who you are as a company.
Content and Context
This is what inbound marketing is truly about: delivering the right content at the right time. You want to target each article, email and product demo to the right person depending on their progress through the Buyer’s Journey. Showing a first-time visitor your brand new product might come off a little strong and you could confuse an existing customer with a welcome email. Content and context go hand-in-hand in creating a great marketing plan.
This is my personal favorite step in the inbound methodology, which is why it gets its own entry. The focus is put on turning current customers into your top promoters. How do you do this you ask? Through attentive customer service and continued engagement. You can send out tailor-made surveys to make sure they’re still happy. You can also set up social monitoring to engage with any questions, concerns and compliments. In turn, your customers will be so delighted with your business they’ll tell all their friends about you, forward emails and share Facebook posts. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Emails are the best way to engage directly with a lead. There are different ways to show some inbox love. The first is through an opt-in subscription. These are emails visitors choose to receive like blog subscriptions and e-newsletters. Another great use of email marketing is to send reminder emails for special events like home shows, workshops and webinars. Sales managers can also use email to follow-up on leads and even help close them!
How much of your work day do you spend on Facebook? It’s ok to admit, we’re all friends here. But what you might have been using as a distraction can actually be an amazing marketing tool. The king of the social media platforms can be used to reach out to potential new leads as well as continuing to delight new customers. But Facebook isn’t purely promotional. Follow the 80/20 rule with your posts. 80% should be informative and entertaining, showing your business’ personality. The other 20% can be for sales.
If Facebook is the belle of the Internet ball, Google is the party planner, announcer and host. Nothing happens online without Google seeing and recording it. Soon they will even have live Twitter streams coming up on search results. So keep the all-mighty Google in mind when you do anything online. Using search engine optimization tips, such as where to put important keywords, can help you rank higher on Google and make your business easier to find. The ultimate goal is always to be on that coveted first page. Playing the SEO game can be a little tricky, though. Remember that your primary audience is always people, not an algorithm. When you write for actual people, everyone wins!
A successful inbound marketing strategy helps its visitors, leads, customers and promoters. When you make being helpful your first priority, you’ll provide better content in the right context. People can tell when businesses only care about the sale, not the customer. That’s bad, old marketing. Put your visitor’s needs first and they’ll not only notice, they’ll come back.
This is the reason we do what we do. The inbound methodology takes four marketing actions and relates them to the audience. I love HubSpot’s graphic because it also describes types of content that can achieve each action and help move people through the stages.
Unfortunately, not the band. We’re all about the Buyer’s Journey here. It’s the path every potential customer goes through from first noticing your company to deciding to buy. It all starts with the Awareness Stage. This is when a potential buyer begins to realize they have a problem or potential opportunity and starts looking for a solution. This is followed by the Consideration Stage when they have clearly defined their problem. When they have figured out their method or approach to solving the problem, they are in the Decision Stage. Each stage of the Buyer’s Journey is defined by different behavior patterns and should be approached on your end with different types of content. Showing a product comparison document to a visitor just starting in the Awareness Stage won’t do them, or you any good (and remember we always want to be helpful). Understanding the Buyer’s Journey is an important key to a successful inbound marketing strategy.
Speaking of keys… Keywords are the most important words to use in your content to get noticed. It’s how the all-mighty Google can keep track of you. It’s also how people track you down since they’re the ones typing in the search bar. Unlock the right keywords through extensive research. Look into how visitors are currently finding your site and rely on long-tail keywords. These are phrases that have a smaller search volume but are much more specific and easier for search engines to rank. It will also bring a higher quality of interested leads to your site! Once you’ve found the right phrases, stick them in your page’s URL, title, header, body content and image alt text.
I love landing pages. To me, they’re the peanut butter cups of a candy website. The simpler design and special offer each landing page provides is the chocolate shell. The form a visitor has to fill out is the nutty, delicious, peanut butter center. That form provides the nutrients because in order to download your fantastic new e-book, a lead must enter their contact information. They then become a contact in your database, and a lead. Landing pages are the top lead generators on your site.
How often do you read articles on your phone instead of your computer? Mobile use now accounts for 50% of all Internet use, so it’s imperative your site is fully optimized for phones. If your page is hard to read on an iPhone, the reader won’t stick around. Google even checks now for mobile optimization. For more information on mobile optimization tips, check out this past blog.
How do you convert leads into customers? Do you have a system in place through follow-up emails, social media messages and phone calls? All of that is called lead nurturing. You shepherd them through the buyer’s journey by showing them the right content in the right context and engaging with them along the way. You’re also fostering a relationship that establishes your business as knowledgeable and helpful.
All of that content I mentioned under Landing Pages are the offers of each page. The content should only become available after an information form has been filled out. An exceptional inbound marketing strategy will leverage how much each offer is worth against how much information your small business can reasonably ask for. This comes with truly understanding your own product or service and its worth.
Picture your ideal client. A persona, or buyer persona, is a fictional yet specific characterization of that ideal client. This is your target demographic. Give them a name, a face and a backstory. Conduct research and ask current clients questions about themselves to make your persona as real as possible. This ever-changing character should be your main focus for every bit of content you publish. He or she will dictate which keywords you use, if they prefer Facebook over Twitter and how thoroughly they research a product or service before buying.
Not all leads should be treated the same. Your best friend Bobby may “like” every Facebook post, but that doesn’t mean Bobby wants a brand-new kitchen remodel from you. A Qualified Lead, or Marketing Qualified Lead, is someone who opts-in to receive your content. This can be through following you on Twitter, signing up for the e-newsletter, filling out a contact form or downloading an offer from a landing page. They are interested in your company and are eager to know more.
ROI is your Return On Investment. Making sure your marketing efforts are working in a finite and measurable way is an important key to any small business marketing strategy. Like any business strategy, marketing is indeed an investment but it’s one you can constantly adjust and improve to ensure a great ROI.
I can’t stress enough how important social media marketing is to a well-rounded inbound marketing plan. Social media can be applied to every stage of the inbound methodology and it’s especially potent in the first and last. Social publishing attracts strangers to become visitors to your website, so make sure you’re promoting your content through social media and providing links to your site. You also delight customers into promoters. Giving immediate (or close to it) customer service cements that relationship and an active presence through social monitoring helps retain satisfied customers. Social media can now even help with your SEO thanks to the deal between Google and Twitter. Each platform provides unique benefits, giving you the opportunity to fully utilize each one in different ways!
No, it’s not a protein-packed meat alternative that’s delicious in Pad Thai, although I eat that enough during the work week I consider it part of any successful marketing strategy. When discussing inbound marketing tactics, TOFU stands for “Top Of the FUnnel.” Traditional marketing often envisions the process as a sales funnel, getting smaller as the journey goes. The top is, therefore, the beginning of that process when a potential lead is in at the Awareness Stage of the Buyer’s Journey. TOFU is when you grab their attention and gently lead them down the funnel.
Look at the top of the webpage. See the address bar? That’s where the URL goes. Copy and paste your URL everywhere. On your tweets, on your Facebook posts, on your emails, on any printout, everywhere. It’s how potential clients find you because it’s where they click. Search engines also scan URLs for keywords so make all of your site’s pages are fully optimized! Oh, and in case you were wondering, URL stands for “Uniform Resource Locator” which makes sense, I guess, but isn’t really important, especially since I just had to look it up.
Don’t be afraid to mix things up! There is an infinite supply of content competing with yours on the Internet so churning out the same content over and over again can potentially bore your audience. Instead, dazzle them with exciting and engaging blogs, e-newsletters, e-books, and more! Variety is also important when considering the context of your content. All of your content shouldn’t be going out in an email and no one likes a Facebook page that posts 5 times a day. Determine what content goes on which platform to maintain a strong presence in every arena.
Workflows get into the nitty gritty details of lead nurturing. A workflow relies on triggers and if/then relationships. For example, if a lead fills out Form A, they will be sent Email A. Once set up through marketing automation software, it takes care of the minute details for you. Doesn’t it feel nice to just lean back and watch the computer work its magic?
This may be a stretch but bear with me for a second. Creativity is key to a successful marketing plan. You have to be willing to think outside of the box to separate yourself from competitors. So how does this fit with Xanadu? Well, you can say many things about the 1980 cult-classic about roller-skating, but you can’t accuse it of not being creative and original.
Your primary focus should be on the client. Make reading one of your blogs a personal experience for them. Being relatable and personable is much more enduring than a marketing robot.
I know, I know, zoos don’t really have anything to do with marketing. But neither does anything else that starts with a “Z.” However, you made it through this entire list which means you work hard. You deserve to relax so go have some fun!