Inbound leads are a marketers dream, especially when the leads are qualified. When the concept of inbound marketing was coined by HubSpot and became popular in 2005, small businesses and B2B companies especially were energized by the idea of “earning” customers and being found through organic content and channels.
David Meerman Scott, an author, speaker, marketer, and advisor to HubSpot, frequently talks about the traditional methods of getting attention, prior to earning it with inbound, as “buying, begging and bugging your way in.”1) You can buy attention (otherwise known as advertising in his opinion), 2) You can beg for attention (public relations), or 3) You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales).
So how do you generate earned attention? Start out with the intent to create interesting content that is freely available to your prospects. This content should serve to educate them and consequently create awareness for your own product or service. Typical inbound marketing content includes anything from a blog, bylined article or guest blog, to a Facebook group, Twitter feed, YouTube video, Snapchat story, to an infographic, white paper, ebook and more.
We’re going to talk further about inbound marketing – how to determine whether it’s right for your business, and some simple steps to set a foundation for success. But if we already have your attention and you want to learn, sign up now for an upcoming webinar that will tell you all you need to know about inbound marketing to drive sales.
On Wednesday, November 16, 2016, at 2pm ET, we are partnering with HubSpot to offer you a free webinar on inbound marketing & sales for startups. The host? Dan Tyre – employee #6 at HubSpot and an inbound legend. He joined the team in 2007 and has since led the recruiting, training, and growth of HubSpots sales team. Pretty impressive.
Interested? Don’t forget to register here: http://offers.hubspot.com/dt-leveraging-inbound-sales
OK, let’s get back to inbound marketing for business. How do you know if it’s a good strategy for your business, meaning it fits your lead and sales goals as well as your company make-up? Well, to put it bluntly, successful inbound marketing is not that easy. It takes work and time to see results. But if you’re willing to do it right, you can realize some pretty stellar results.
Here’s the foundation you need to put in place in order to follow and see success with the Inbound Methodology:
Define your customer & customer journey
Not many companies truly know the ins and outs of their user base because truly knowing them means knowing many things about them. Of course, there’s the ‘why’ and ‘how’ they might buy, but you should also know other things: typical demographics, goals, challenges, distractions, budgets, and more.
It’s hard to know the exact path your customers might take, but start by mapping out the various personas and how those journeys to purchase might differ. Having it written down in front of you will help you to plan everything, from each page of your website, to every topic and the timing of each campaign.
Set your site up for success
What does a successful website look like? It might differ for your specific business and industry, but there are some basics you can get down early. For one, it should be attractive to your users and easy to navigate. Make sure it’s set up to drive traffic by working well with all your users most frequently used search engines and being completely mobile compliant.
Your users are finding you on mobile just as much if not more than they are on any other device. Practice responsive web design to make sure your site works on any device they use.
SEO is your best friend
Looking back at your customer personas and journeys, determine the keywords that your prospects use to find more information and solutions like yours. Google Adwords, Moz, BuzzSumo, ubersuggest, and others can help you identify what those words are and how to use them in content and on your site.
You’ll want to bring in your webmaster for on-page SEO elements that will help your site rise in search rankings.
Start creating actionable content
Creating content that drives eyeballs and potential users isn’t easy. It calls for concerted time and effort to consistently put out quality content that people actually find interesting and even compelling enough to share.
Within each post, you should always keep a few things in mind –
- Is the content designed for the buyer? If your audience is CFOs, your accounting 101 blog might not get too far. Dig into the knowledge needs of your audience and deliver a valuable piece of content that they can share and refer back to in their day-to-day.
- Is the format preferred by the reader? If your audience is rarely at their computer with little time to read a full blown guide on a certain topic, you might see better results by creating a more visual piece of content such as a Slideshare presentation or an infographic. Always think through how the content is being consumed.
- Is it keyword optimized? With each post, you should build upon the SEO work you did at the onset. Without obviously overwhelming your content with too many keywords, make sure that you strategically insert SEO-friendly words and phrases that will surface your content to the top of search results.
- What is the goal of the content? If you want them to sign up for your newsletter, ask them. If you want them to try one of your products related to the service, ask them. A strong call to action is critical to see a stronger correlation between the topic and the intended result.
- How is the content being distributed? While the writing quality is important, your post will be hard to find without some sort of distribution plan. Can you post it in forums? On social channels? In your newsletter?
Leverage the tools that help you convert, close, and learn
Your funnel doesn’t stop once you’ve interested a reader on your blog – from there you have to drive them into forms, onto landing pages, into email marketing campaigns, and workflows to get them to convert into users. Inbound marketing should also be used to drive and share customer happiness. It’s a beautiful cycle if executed successfully.
And while it will take a few cycles to watch and learn, re-strategizing and responding to analytics and reporting is part of the benefit of inbound marketing. Ready to get started?