Inbound marketing is the "magnet" approach of drawing customers to your product or service. You're there when they need you. Basically, you provide information and resources throughout the buyer's journey (awareness > consideration > decision). This allows a potential customer to gather information when they are seeking it. It has proven to be very successful, since this marketing approach is less disruptive to a person's daily routine.
There are 4 stages in which you are able to provide resources:
Stage #1 - Attract
The first stage involves converting strangers to visitors. That means at this stage you have limited to no prior interaction with your prospect. Matter fact, at this point he or she is a stranger. So the first step covers topics and information your "dream client" would search for.
You can setup a buyer persona. It's a process in which you'll identify what their goals are, their behaviors, demographics, pain points, things you should do, and not do to attract them. Equipped with this information you're able to kickstart your first step to attract a customer.
In order to receive attention you'll develop content that will provide a person the necessary information to advance in their decision making process. The common approach is to build a list of keywords that your dream client would search to find your offering, create content that answers their questions, and refine your website to be more easily found by search engines.
Keywords & Long-Tail Keywords
Here you'll focus on generating a list of word, phrases, and sentences that your customer would search when looking for what you offer. This process can be very extensive, yet, it will provide value in the long run. Your keywords are always able to be referenced and reviewed. When things change, added to or removed.
There are sites that will help you kickstart your list. For example, keywordtooldominator, Answer The Public, or Google Trends. Each one of these sites will offer you a different way to gather information.
Something to keep in mind, the more generic your keyword the harder to rank for it. In other words, if you're selling investments, just using the keyword "investments" or "investing" by itself will not help you. It will actually result in definitions, and high level results of major brands. Also, no one (including Google) knows what you're trying to find with that. Thus, long-tail keywords come in handy, and will put you in a better spot. For example, "investing in single family homes", or "investments that provide passive income for retirement". These are more specific, and can be a topic that is very well of interest to your customers. This leads to the next part... content.
If you're struggling to create content, you're not alone. It feels like all topics have been already addressed. There's an article for everything, and it really is time consuming to write. Well, you're right. But, what is gaining popularity is documenting, instead of creating. This is essentially just writing, or talking about things that you did or are doing.
With the help of social media channels (facebook, instagram, twitter, youtube, etc.) documenting has become a form more and more people are accustomed to. Even though someone has already written about single family homes as investment opportunities, no one has written about it from your perspective. That lends you a significant advantage. (1) you safe time due to just documenting what already happened, and (2) you're building a brand that allows you to attract a following for your brand.
There are three forms people consume information: (1) read, (2) listen, and (3) watch. You can try all three ways. Record yourself, or use a presentation if you're not wanting to be in front of the lens. Just start writing about a topic, and post it on your website. Or, start a podcast and talk about the topic. Ideally, you can explore each avenue. Statistics show that there is a significant increase in podcasts, due to people consuming information while doing other things - like driving.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization is part of your entire online presence. I will not be able to cover everything in this article, but would like address some of the basics.
In order for search engines to match your content to searches, and deem it relevant, it must find, process, and analyze your content as quickly as possible. You are after all "optimizing" your content for search engines.
This is where your keywords come handy, and the content you've wrote should contain keywords and related words to your topic to provide the clearest answer to a subject.
A search engine, like Google, in the most simplest form looks at two key factors:
Is your content relevant to what has been typed into the search engine?
Are you an authority of that subject matter?
The second part, authority, is validated by how many people (backlinks) reference your content. If your content is being referenced by others a lot, then Google will rank it higher on the search results.
The technical aspect of SEO is something a lot of companies skip. And, this is actually one of the more important factors to making your content rank at the top. A search engine uses web crawlers (a program or automated script) that browses the entire world wide web. Depending on how the program is written, it can achieve different results, i.e., Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo and other search engines show various different results for the same search.
To ensure your content is quickly and easily read by web crawlers, you will have to dive a little into your code base. In essence, you are complying with search engine requirements, and make it easy for web crawlers to consume your information. Here are some things you can do:
Responsive Design: Build your website to be responsive to mobile, web, tablets, and any shape of device in between. It’s critical, as the tech industry builds more gadgets on which we can consume information. Smartphones, for example, have been the tool for late night and early morning browsing.
Page URL: Does your URL include keywords relevant to your content? For example, check out this URL and notice how we included “8 Core Disciplines of Digital Marketing”.
Image Alt Tag: This is text that will appear when the image didn’t load properly. It’s also very important for accessibility to the visually impaired. It allows web crawlers and visitors to your site to understand your image.
Image File Name: Use keywords to describe the image, or illustration. Try to avoid uploading pictures to your website that are named “DSC_19485.jpg”. No one knows what that is.
Keyword Density: Include your keyword/s throughout your content. Again, it’s not about how many times you can use the same word, but how thorough you’re able to explain a subject. I like the use Moz’s - The Beginner Guide To SEO as an example. They have included everything you need to know about SEO, and the design is fantastic, as well!
Meta Description: This is pulled by search engines specifically. It’s the summary, 320 characters or less, that describes the content on the page. This is what you will see below the Title and URL of every search result.
The first stage of attracting strangers and getting them to visit your website and offerings is a continuous process. It's best to setup a calendar for your content marketing and stick to it. Stay consistent with posting relevant and valuable information for your potential customers. It is a give and give more approach that will pay off in the long run.
Stage #2 - Convert
This is the part of the inbound methodology that usually gets people to sit up in their chair and listen. It's the part that turns visitors into leads. If you have a ton of traffic on your website, but are not getting leads, that may be the result of a bad conversion path.
A conversion path is a defined process that guides your visitors from being a stranger to becoming a lead. This is done through a call-to-action, forms, and offers. It all comes together on a landing page. A landing page is honestly any website page you can find online. Even a homepage is a landing page. Though it acts as an overview and navigational tool to more detailed pages in your website. We will focus on landing pages that offer specific information and resources for your visitors. Let's call them conversion pages.
A conversion page can be broken into sections:
A headline let's your visitor know within seconds what is being offered. Let's stick with single family homes. The headline could read "How to make passive income with single family homes, without making it your full-time job". It covers all aspects of your offering. A visitor quickly knows you have information about making more money without it consuming a significant amount of time.
The call-to-action is the next step in your conversion. It let's the visitor know what you'd like them to do. They need something to act on. A call-to-action is often a form to fill out, or a n-step process to signing up. Note that the more information you require from a visitor at this stage the less likely they are to convert.
You may notice that many websites offer eBooks in exchange for your email address. If you require more information, especially personal information, visitors may tend to drop off and search for their answers elsewhere. Yet, if your industry has strict regulatory requirements, you should stick to them. One way is to break up your form into steps. That way you can collect the necessary information you need to follow up with a follow-up email, for example.
The sneak peak section is your offering summarized into 3-5 value propositions. This gives your visitor insight on what they will receive, and eliminates the guessing game.
Trust & Credibility
You can build trust by showing who's currently benefiting from your offering. If you or your company has been mentioned in the media, you can also include it as a section. Building trust and credibility will get you one step closer to earning a lead.
Another section can include testimonials. This is of course something you have to ask of your current customers. It's another step in your marketing efforts, but will shine in moments like this.
The most powerful commodity of all - time! Creating urgency in your message can suppress the procrastination syndrome we all fight. "Act now! Only 5 available.". "This offer expires tonight." Be careful though. If you put a timestamp on your offer, you should stick to it. Otherwise, you will lose credibility, and can really damage your entire campaign.
Another approach, often seen for webinars, is showing when the next one starts. If it's a pre-recording, you can have it run every 30 minutes, or every hour.
For more evergreen offers, like an eBook, you may create urgency through clever text. "Every second counts. Start building passive income today!"
Stage #3 - Close
Here we go! After much work you've built a lead generation tool. Maybe you have a bunch of leads already, but they aren't buying? The close is obviously where we will turn leads into customers.
A common mistake is to go straight for the sale. Most leads will shy away immediately. Think of the closing process more as a "get to know" you process. Learn about your new lead. What triggers them to act? Why did they download your eBook, or sign up in the first place? Where are they in their buyer's journey? Since you likely know very little about your new lead, you should get to know them better.
If they downloaded your eBook about passive income, maybe they are just now have become aware of this opportunity. There are two ways to start building a relationship with your new lead.
Thank You Landing Page: After your visitor fills out a form, and leave an email and contact information, you can redirect them to a thank you page. As the name alludes, you thank them for downloading the eBook. Furthermore, and the hook, you provide them immediate access to additional resources about related topics. It could even be a special discount, for only those that have downloaded the eBook. Since you already have their attention, you can immediately help them find more value through your company.
Thank You Email: The thank you email should work very similar to the landing page. Depending on your preferred method, it may also include the eBook as an attachment. In addition, the email can include a "heads up" on what they will receive in the future via email. Keep in mind, emails become more powerful the more custom they are tailored. This means, taking the time to really understand your lead's needs and wants, and only sending relevant and valuable information. No one wants to receive spam.
There Are Actually Three Ways: Do both!
If you're wondering how to manage all this, then you need to invest some time learning more about CRMs (Customer Relationship Management) tools. It's a way to keep track of your leads, and your interactions with them. It will also help you understand which leads convert and which ones don't. Great asset for tweaking your conversion funnels, and landing pages.
Stage #4 - Delight
I bet some of you thought stage #3 was the final step to mastering the inbound methodology. Well, let me tell you that this is the most overlooked, leaving money on the table step. Turning your customers into promoters is what can make your business go from 5-figures to 6-figures, or 6 to 7 figures, or.... well you get the point.
Here's where companies show whether they care for the sale or the person sold to. Investing time and money into delighting your customers can work wonders. And often it's as simple as including them in your company through events, insights, or special offerings. Heck, remember their birthday, and send them a handwritten card.
One way to stay on top of things is to include social media monitoring to your operations. Find out if your customer has won an award, posted about his kids birthday, or is a die-hart Dallas Cowboys fan. Then, act on it. Maybe you find a clue that they need additional products and services you offer.
Earning a customer and turning them into a promoter of your business is not an easy task. Matter fact, it's earned. The reason you probably started your business is because you came up with something that could help a person. That sometimes gets forgotten through the constant shuffle of what we call life. It's hard to earn a client, and even harder to retain one.
Obviously, Deftbound helps companies implement the inbound methodology, and formulate a strategy that is both easy to adapt and scalable. If you have any questions, or would like to ask for some tips, just shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.