It’s been ten years since Brian Halligan wrote the book on inbound marketing. As the book and the approach to marketing turn a decade old we still see the value of implementing this key digital marketing methodology. Although it is now well accepted as a digital strategy we find that it is still important to implement.
To demystify the inner workings of inbound marketing, I’ve broken down the process into six essential steps for you to follow:
1. Have a strategy
You need to think about what you’re trying to achieve with inbound marketing and how you’re going to achieve it. For example, an NGO and a marketing agency will have different marketing objectives, so they’ll implement inbound marketing strategies very differently. An agency will aim to convert web users into customers while an NGO might want to raise awareness about a certain issue or convince people to change their behaviour. While the marketing agency will aim to appeal to a narrowly defined set of marketing and sales personas, the NGO will want to cast a wider net by producing content with a broader appeal. This will determine the details of each organisation’s strategy.
Consider the following questions:
About your business:
- What are your goals and objectives?
- What are your challenges and opportunities?
- What is your budget?
About your intended process:
- How much of your resources can you dedicate to inbound marketing?
- Should you outsource your inbound marketing to an agency?
- How will you measure success?
About your customers:
- Who are your ideal customers?
- What messages and content will they be most receptive to?
- What channels do they use?
Without these answers, your strategy will lack direction and you’ll end up wasting time and money on actions that aren’t measurable or aligned to your objectives.
2. Keep an updated and well-designed website
More often than not, your website is the first point of contact between you and your customers. It should be easy to use so make sure it’s mobile-friendly and easy to consume. This is a key part of the process because your website is the engine for all your online marketing and lead generation efforts. Your conversion rates will suffer if your website is visually unimpressive or difficult to navigate.
3. Generate some traffic
By increasing the traffic to your website, you will increase the number of visitors you can turn into leads.Blogging
The first step to increasing web traffic is writing blogs on topics of interest for your target audience. Every new blog article gives readers a reason to visit your website, but that’s not the only reason you should blog frequently. By blogging strategically, you tell Google that you are an authority on a particular topic and raise your organic ranking for a particular set of keywords. This makes it easier for potential customers to find your website when they’re conducting online research.Social media
If content is the fuel that drives inbound marketing, then social media is the oxygen delivered by a turbocharger. People are more likely to read and share a piece of content that’s been recommended to them by a friend. And this brings us back to content, it has to be a cut above the rest – visionary insights dressed in the kind of appealing prose that can even make accounting software sound sexy.SEO
The important point here is that your content must include targeted keywords. These keywords should not only include terms that directly relate to your products and services, but also those that potential customers are searching for.Pay-per-click (PPC)
If you’re running PPC campaigns, ensure that they’re aligned with your inbound marketing goals and optimised to generate the highest-quality traffic for the lowest cost per click. Here, it’s worth noting a statistic that’s supplied by Smart Insights: 70% of the links that users click on are organic.
4. Focus on conversion, Part 1: Turning traffic into leads
To convert unknown visitors into known leads, you need to create attractive CTAs (calls to action) and content offers. Landing pages need to contain forms that ask visitors to exchange their contact details for the asset on offer. Content assets need to be interesting enough to prompt potential customers to provide their details. Again, I can’t emphasise enough the importance of high-quality, original content.
5. Focus on conversion, Part 2: Leads into customers
You’re halfway to a sale, now all you have to do is to convert your leads into customers. The best way to do this is through a highly targeted approach. Segment your leads according to the data you’ve gathered and use it to develop a winning endgame for each of these groups. It’s crucial that marketing and sales are on the same page so they know how to make the perfect pitch. Sales need to know how leads have been nurtured so they know what their leads already know. It’s beneficial to integrate your CRM system with your sales and marketing systems to ensure a closed-loop marketing campaign – one in which nobody gets, well, left out of the loop.
6. Be analytical
Find out which metrics will give you the best indication of how your inbound marketing process is performing. There’s no point in reporting on vanity metrics like Facebook shares or likes. Instead, focus on metrics that home in on conversions and prove marketing ROI. If you’re not a natural number cruncher, you might want to outsource your analytics and implementation to a digital marketing agency so you can focus on strategy.