If you’re new to inbound marketing, you might be finding it difficult to know where to start. As with any form of marketing, the first thing you need to do, assuming you haven’t already done it, is to clearly define your primary target market, identify specific market segments and understand the needs and wants of your typical buyer. Once you have this information, you can compile an inbound marketing strategy to capture the attention of your prospective customers, generate qualified sales leads and nurture them until they reach the buying stage.
Follow these 6 steps to navigate your way to a successful plan.
Step 1: Fix your website.
No, the one you have isn’t going to cut it. Far too many businesses have a website that amounts to a static, online brochure—one that never changes, except when they update the telephone number! A successful inbound marketing website is dynamic and interactive, with quality content in a variety of media optimized for search engine indexing around a set of appropriate keywords. Don’t ask your teenage nephew to set it up; find yourself a professional website design company that understands inbound marketing techniques and website architecture. Make sure they follow best web design practices, including on-page SEO, intuitive navigation, balanced layout and responsive design.
Step 2: Create your content vehicle.
Once you have a website that can accommodate it, you need a content vehicle on which to publish regularly. This could take the form of a blog or vlog (video blog) or perhaps you lean toward a slightly more unusual option such as an advice or information center where visitors can download white papers, video clips or e-books. Perhaps you want a combination of them all. Whether your plan is to create original content or curate content from other sources, you need somewhere to showcase it for website visitors.
Step 3: Set up social media profiles.
Once you have all this fabulous infrastructure set up and are publishing regularly, how do you make sure people know about it, visit it and read it? Through social networking. It takes time, though, to build up a decent following, so start setting up your social media profiles at the same time that you start fixing the website. That will give you time to get family, friends and former customers to share it with their networks. Once you have 20 Twitter followers or 100 Facebook Likes, you’ll be able to place some paid social media ads to boost your user base. Post links to your website and content vehicle on your social media profiles and ask your followers to comment, like and share them further. This will drive traffic to your content.
Step 4: Post regularly.
It’s like joining a club. Once you’re a member, you have to be there to benefit. So, once you join the inbound marketing club, you have to post regularly to benefit. If you don’t, Google won’t know you’re a member of the club and won’t index your website, and you won’t appear in search engine results. The secret sauce is publishing regular, quality content that is written around your keywords and establishes you as an expert in your field. Post links to everything you publish on your social media profiles, so your followers know when there’s new information to read. And no, it isn’t advertising material and you shouldn’t give it a “buy my service” message and focus.
Step 5: Start a mailing list.
There are always going to be those users who don’t see your stuff when you publish it. As hard as that is to swallow (gulp!) there is something you can do about it. Set up an email database and add a subscribe option to your website, content vehicle and your social media profiles. Sure, you’ll get some duplication—your mother is going to follow you on everything, after all—but by and large you have a good chance of reaching a mix of people across the different platforms. Once a week/month/quarter, compile an email consisting of the content you’ve posted recently, some great images and an editorial comment and send it to your list. Those poor, misguided souls who missed both your updated website posts as well as your social media posts will get a third chance to read your content.
Step 6: Track and tweak.
You’re never going to know if you’re getting it right unless you monitor your results. Sign up for an analytics program and check the results frequently; take a look at your social media profiles to see what you posted on high-traffic days and try to duplicate the efforts that work better than others. Watch to see if your traffic is increasing; track the leads that come in from your site and follow them up. Do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
It’s not about numbers. It’s about quality leads and if at the end of six months you only have 20 customers, if they are the right 20 that’s all you need.