When executed properly, inbound marketing can help all businesses grow by driving more web traffic and generating more leads. However, if not done properly, or only half-complete, you’ll present your business as incomplete online.
But let’s be serious, there are only so many hours in a day and there are so many things to do, especially as a small business owner. Where do you find the time to create and execute an inbound strategy as well as all the other responsibilities as a small business owner?
Most small business owners wear enough hats as it is, and inbound marketing is not a one-time job. Because visitors to your site like current, relevant content, so does Google. That means you need to post regularly to keep your site up-to-date and so that Google will continue crawling your site.
If you choose to perform an inbound marketing strategy in-house, below are the steps you need to create a winning strategy. I have found that most small business owners know what they should be doing, but don’t have the time to execute those tasks properly and don’t have the tools do perform an inbound strategy as well as it needs to be done. That would be like trying to defend yourself in court without a law degree or trying to change the brakes on your car without the proper tools.
Steps to Creating an Inbound Marketing Strategy:
Research is important before making any decision or strategy when it comes to your business, however, that doesn’t mean that all research is good research. With the amount of information available, it is important to remain on topic and scan articles and resources quickly for information relevant to your queries. Like all aspects of inbound marketing, research is an ongoing process. This will help you stay up to date on new trends and techniques.
Goals of Research Stage:
- Buyer Personas:
Create enough buyer personas to include all of your different target markets. By putting yourself in their shoes, you will better understand their concerns and be prepared to offer solutions.
- Market Triggers:
Your experiences and research will show the pain points of your target markets. Then you can find how your services and products alleviate those pains.
Find the keywords your business needs to be ranking for and which keywords your competitors are targeting. Through research you’ll find which keywords are important to your target markets at different stages of the buying process.
Every business wants to increase sales, but what are the metrics that are going to help you achieve that goal? You need to decide how your inbound marketing strategy is going generate more leads.
2. Create and Execute:
After creating your buying personas and target markets, it’s time to create and execute your inbound marketing strategy. When you create your content schedule in advance, it’s easier to stay ahead of the posts and topics that will funnel visitors through the buying process.
Content Creation and Execution:
- Content Schedule:
Create topics relevant to each point in the buying process and list titles for those topics. A good tip is to schedule a title to a specific date, and list any links to resources and keywords so that they are easily accessible when writing begins.
Blogging is a key for any business. If you aren’t blogging, start as soon as possible. If you started and fell off, start again. This is the best way to answer your target market’s questions, offer solutions, drive traffic to your site, and generate more leads.
To some, SEO is a myth that is promoted as the one-stop solution to get your business on the first page of Google. That’s not the case. There is no magic formula that can guarantee success. However, there is a guarantee of failure if you are not optimizing each and every page on your website with keywords, alt tags, and other SEO best practices.
You have all this great content on your site. The next step in developing your inbound marketing strategy is share with the world your answers to your target market’s pain points. This doesn’t mean you have to try to be everywhere at the same time, but it does mean you have to find the places where your target audience is and engage them.
Ways to Promote Content:
It is impossible to be active and engaging on every social media site. Luckily, you don’t have to. You need to research where your target market is, and be there. But, there is no halfway. Make sure to post regularly and engage with followers and likes.
- Email Marketing:
Some may think that this means spam, but those people don’t use email marketing to its full potential. You need to break up your email list into the different stages of the buying process so that new signups aren’t receiving the same emails as long-time customers. And, you need to target the specific points with information and promotions that will nudge them along to the next stage of the buying process.
- Pay-Per-Click Ads:
Why spend all this time and money on inbound marketing, just to advertise? Inbound marketing is about driving targeted visitors to your site to convert them to leads, and eventually, customers. PPC advertising is another way to be in front of a targeted audience (those who searched for your specific keywords) and drive traffic to your site.
4. Generate Leads
Your website is a sales rep that never sleeps. If you’re site isn’t generating leads for you, not only are you missing an opportunity to grow, you’re being passed by your competitors.
Ways to Generate Leads:
- Call To Actions:
Your website needs to have strategically placed CTAs so that you can continue promoting the next stage of the buying process to your visitors. But the same goes for emails and PPC ads. Measure the different phrasing and designs that work best at driving traffic.
- Premium Content:
Whitepapers, eBooks, Case Studies, Webinars, and even Podcasts are a great way for you to offer detailed content to your visitors and potential customers. When they click a CTA to acquire this premium content, it brings them to a landing page.
- Landing Pages:
A landing page is a gatekeeper to your premium content that requires visitors to fill out a short form to acquire the free content. This is how your business acquires new leads and more subscribers to your email list. Remember, only ask for the information you need (most of the time, simply their name and email address) so you don’t scare off potential customers by requiring them to provide irrelevant personal data.
- Funnel Through Buying Process:
Posting to your site regularly and to specific keywords is a great way to drive more targeted traffic to your website. But if your site isn’t converting visitors to leads, then it is only doing half its job. You need to make sure that your website is always working for your business.
You are able to track every step along the inbound marketing process, which provides the data necessary to see which aspects of your campaign are working and which need improvement. If you are not using the data to improve your strategy, you are aiming with your eyes closed and hoping to hit your target.
Data to Measure:
- A/B Testing:
By testing different versions of your CTAs or PPC ads, you can see which works the best. Constant improving and tinkering is necessary to make sure your campaign is working as hard as you are. Remember to only change one small variable per test so that the data provides specific results.
- Social Media:
Which social media platforms work best for your company? What times are the best to post about your business? What types of content provides the most engagement? Tracking of all this data allows you to improve your strategy.
Track the best emails to send to the specific points in the buying process. Constantly tracking the data will show the best times and days to send your emails.
Track which blogs, topics, and points on the buying process perform the best. Find the blogs that have the lowest bounce rate and which visitors click to other articles.
- Traffic to Leads:
Driving more traffic to your site is a wonderful thing, but if those visitors aren’t turning into leads it doesn’t matter how many visitors you have. This data will tell you where on the buying process your site is failing.
- Leads to Customer:
Similar to above, if your leads aren’t buying, then you need improve your lead nurturing. By targeting improvements to specific points in the buying process, you can ensure you’re not changing what parts of your strategy are succeeding.
Your PPC ads are an important way to drive traffic to your site. If certain keywords are driving the most traffic to your site, try raising the bid so you can rank higher. Use negative keywords so you don’t waste money on similar keywords, but irrelevant to your company.
Develop Your Inbound Marketing Strategy Today!
Inbound marketing is a multi-faceted, on-going process that provides content tailored to specific points in the buying process, promotes that content, and analyzes the data. Unfortunately, many small business owners simply don’t have the time, or the skills to research, create, and execute an inbound marketing strategy that is going to drive more traffic to their site and generate more leads and more sales.
Create Your Story, Promote It, and Perfect Your Strategy
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Benefits of Inbound Marketing for Small Businesses
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What is Inbound Marketing?
What is a Landing Page?
SEO and Optimized Content
Inbound Marketing Services
Social Media Marketing
Generate more leads through properly structured content. Copyright Mike D. O’Brien 2016