Are you a huge fan of cold calls? What about the marketing emails that you never signed up for invading your inbox? How about TV commercials in the middle of your favorite show?
The fact is, these marketing messages tend to be frowned upon or ignored rather than delightfully consumed. Shockingly enough, these disruptive outbound techniques convert at a much lower rate than inbound marketing strategies, where someone chooses to engage with your brand and actively seeks you out.
Inbound strategies are all about being found naturally rather than aggressively pursuing leads through in-your-face tactics. Which person do you think would be more likely to buy a house? The person who received a message saying “Buy this house!” or the person who searched for and found the perfect house on their own?
Convinced that inbound marketing strategies kick ass for driving targeted leads and sales? Here are five elements of a strong inbound marketing strategy that you should be using.
1. Search Engine Optimisation
SEO (search engine optimisation) is a hard-to-control, waste-of-time tactic, right? Wrong: SEO is the process of optimising your website’s content and structure for search in order to receive organic placements on the search engine results pages or SERPS. Having a quality website and content optimised for SEO ensures that Google’s web-crawling technology is able to identify and index your site’s content to have it appear for free to people searching. SEO is a critical part of your inbound strategy because if you can’t be found, then you’re not going to get business.
When SEO comes to mind I think keywords, code, website structure, link-building, and then my head starts spinning. SEO can actually get very complicated, quickly, so what should you be focusing on to get started? Start by identifying and utilising the most important keywords to your leads. Of course you want to ensure these keywords have high enough search volume and user intent to attract the most relevant audience.
Most people think that PPC is a paid tactic and aren’t paid strategies against the inbound methodology. Unfortunately, it is technically still part of the inbound marketing family since search ads appear when a user is actively searching for something, therefore PPC ads are not interrupting another activity. Not all aspects of PPC will quality as inbound (like display ads), but ads on the search network are certainly one of the strongest elements of a strong inbound strategy, because search queries show so much intent.
So, how is PPC different then SEO? With paid ads you’re paying for the placements on the SERPs rather than appearing organically. Why pay when you can appear organically? For multiple reasons. With SEO:
- You have far less control over when and how you appear on the search results page.
- A tweak in the algorithms can ruin your organic visibility.
- Seeing results often takes a long time and isn’t guaranteed.
With paid search you’re able to pay for the top placements where people are more likely to see your ads, and bid on specific keywords to attract qualified visitors. You have the control to adjust your budget, pause your ads during irrelevant times, target mobile searchers, easily measure your ROI, and the list goes on.
Moral of the story is that you should be doing both SEO and PPC to get the highest volume and quality of leads.
3. Content Marketing
Now that you’ve warmly welcomed them in the door through PPC and/or SEO you need to provide them something to drink, aka content. Oftentimes marketers think of content as the sole component to inbound marketing strategy, and while it’s certainly not the only aspect, it is a very critical one. Without fresh and useful content there is no chance of keeping and converting your leads. Your content should come in multiple forms with the goal of helping your audience answer a question or solve a problem. The key to content marketing is that your content needs to stand out.
So, where to start?
- Create a blog: You should already know this, but a quality blog is one of the most effective ways to market a business. Blogging will help you attract new visitors, gain returning visitors, and convince warmer leads. A blog is a hub to keep your audience informed and prove that you’re a thought-leader in your industry.
- Create guides, e-books, and other downloadable content: This will help your nurture your leads with longer-form content where you can sell how your products or services will help them.
- Gather customer testimonials and create case studies: Case studies and customer testimonials will help convince leads that are further down the funnel. Hearing from someone like them will instill trust and up the chances of conversion.
- Create a content calendar: to ensure you stay on top of publishing fresh content regularly.
4. Social Media
So you’ve created phenomenal content, published it on your site, and now you’re lounging on your beach chair enjoying a glass of wine? Well, you’re certainly not going to get profitable results with that attitude. You need to be attracting new and returning readers by sharing and promoting your content on social media. Creating the content is only a small piece of the puzzle. Ensuring the content reaches relevant people is where social comes in. This is inbound marketing because only people who want to see your content will follow your brand, and it’s a great way to “subsidise” your organic traffic if you don’t have great rankings yet.
Nowadays, anyone who’s anyone is on social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vine, Instagram, or Periscope; your audience is likely on multiple of these channels. Determining which platforms are most relevant to your buyer personas in a task in itself, but I can guarantee that several of your leads are spending a significant chunk of their time consuming content through their personal social channels.
Spend time creating a social media promotion plan to distribute your content to the right people, analysing your top performing content, and paying to promote and gain even more traffic to the content that’s resonating with your audience.
5. Landing Pages
Your landing page is where your leads land after clicking on your call-to-action (another important element of your inbound marketing strategy). Whether it be a product page, a form fill-out to download a whitepaper, or a subscription service page, you need to ensure your landing page is top-notch unless you’d like to jeopardise potential conversions from coming in. Some important elements to keep in mind.
- Relevancy: You need to make sure that the landing page is relevant to the call-to-action. For example, if your visitor lands on your page from a paid search ad advertising birthday cakes, you wouldn’t send them to a landing page selling Christmas cookies, right?
- Focus: What is the goal of your landing page? Is it to “Sign Up for this E-Newsletter!” or “Download this Guide Today”? Make your landing page’s purpose singular. Ensure the CTA is big, prevalent, and above the fold. Also make sure to restrict the navigation to other pages and keep forms short.
- Design: This is a major component of keeping visitors engaged. Using videos or images, testimonials, and trust signals are all design elements that can help improve the conversion rates of your landing pages. Run A/B tests to decide on the best designs for your landing pages.