Nick Veneris, Marketing Manager, Refersion
Have you ever scrolled through a social media feed, a blog post, or maybe just your search engine results and completely ignored the advertisements? If you have, you’re not unlike a lot of consumers. In fact, 82 percent of Americans ignore online advertisements. That is because people are not online for ads. They are there for the content. So, with this many people ignoring the advertisements, how is your company supposed to get the message out?
You become what your consumer searches for. This is the essence of inbound marketing and why it has been shown to generate three times more leads per dollar compared with traditional methods of advertising. With inbound marketing, your brand provides the content that your potential customer is searching for. You are not interrupting their online experience. You become their online experience. If you want more bang for your buck, you will want to start an inbound marketing strategy. And, if you want an inbound marketing strategy, you will want to know these five elements that will make it as effective for your business as possible.
Knowing Your Customer
For inbound, you must know your customer/potential customer inside and out. Remember, you are attracting customers by providing something of value to them. You need to know what that is. There are a few ways to go about getting this information.
- Interview Your Customer – Contact some of your customers and ask them a few questions about themselves. This is not only helpful for your inbound marketing strategy, but is also a way to improve other aspects of your business to better serve your customer. For inbound marketing specifically, some of the questions that you want to ask are: What problems do you face? Is there information that you search for on a regular basis? What type of content do you prefer to consume? With personal interviews, it is good to really dig deep. Get to know your customers and what their day to day looks like. You never know what insights you may gather that can be incorporated into your strategy down the line.
- Conduct a Survey – Use a service like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms to conduct surveys of your customers or potential customers. You will want to ask similar questions to the ones asked in the personal interview above. Surveys are not as good as personal interviews to delve into the details, but they are good to get a wide range of views. For instance, you could interview a customer, and they may say they like to consume their content through video, but this is only a single person. A survey can give you a better idea of whether that is true for all of your customers or not.
You want to use the data collected above to inform the type of content that you are going to create. Creating valuable content is an absolute necessity when you have an inbound marketing strategy—as in, without it, you don’t really have one. Creating content is about providing “value.” All this really means is that you want to provide content that is extremely helpful/entertaining to your potential customer.
Your content is not about directly promoting your company. Remember, consumers are not on the internet to see advertisements. You can make references to your products and services, but the bulk of the content should not be about promoting it. There are many different types of content that you can provide:
- Social media content
- And many more
What you provide exactly should be tailored to what you learned about your customers from your interviews and surveys.
If you are creating blog or video content, SEO is very important. SEO stands for “search engine optimization,” and optimizing for search engines helps your content appear in search results. There are three basic components of SEO for search engine ranking:
We have already been over content, so let’s move on to keywords. Keywords are what searchers type into a search engine’s search bar. You want to optimize your content for “long-tail keywords” (three or four words), as they have less competition than “short-tail keywords” (one or two words) and are more likely to be specific to your product or service.
Backlinks are links from other sites to your site’s content. This tells search engines that your site is trustworthy and will help you climb the rankings. You can gain backlinks by earning them naturally and through guest posting on other blogs, among many other methods. These are the basics. There is a whole lot more to SEO than what is discussed here. If you plan on taking SEO seriously, you will need a lot more information. Moz’s SEO guide is a great place to start to get in-depth information on SEO.
Promoting Your Brand
This may seem counterintuitive to an inbound marketing strategy, but paid promotion is a great way to get more clicks on your content and sell more of your product or service. There are a few ways that you can go about this:
- PPC – PPC stands for pay-per-click. Whenever you see advertisements on the top of Google search results, they are from companies who have paid for those placements. Usually they are trying to sell a product, but it can also be used to promote your content. It helps get eyes on your content with keywords that your site may have a hard time ranking for without it. In turn, this helps you acquire more customers and maybe even more backlinks.
- Influencers/Sponsors – You can use sponsors or affiliates as a way to promote your content and brand. The most important part about this is finding the right people—i.e., people your customers/potential customers are following—and by building relationships with those people.
As you build those relationships, you can start to ask them to promote your content and product/services by sponsoring them. Consider using affiliates to guide people to your site as a method of word-of-mouth marketing. You can automate this through affiliate marketing software that monitors, analyzes, and tracks your whole program.
All right. Getting people to consume your content is all well and good, but what about actually converting them to customers? This is where a solid CRM and email software come in. MailChimp is a popular option that many businesses use.
You can entice potential customers to sign up for your email list through a solid piece of content—maybe an e-book or a white paper. In exchange for their email, they get the content. This gives you a direct line of communication to convert those potential customers into actual customers. Furthermore, it keeps them happy customers because you can keep providing valuable content through their email.
That is it. Your five essential elements of your inbound marketing strategy. Use this as your starting point, continue to adapt and improve your strategy, and you will be well on your way to acquiring customers for less.
About the Author: Nick is a digital strategist with over twelve years’ experience in planning and executing marketing plans for B2C/B2B brands. Currently, he’s the Marketing Manager for Refersion, the advanced affiliate marketing platform that helps brands manage, track, and grow their affiliate network.