It’s a common theme:
“I know I need to start marketing online, because the old marketing isn’t working so well anymore. But I have no idea where to start!”
So in order to make it a little easier, here’s my top 7 tips for getting started with inbound marketing.
Make a Plan
If you jump into digital without some clear ideas about what you want to get out of it, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
So ask yourself some questions:
- What do I want to achieve from my inbound marketing? Most people would say ‘get more customers’ or ‘make more sales’ but you might also consider using inbound as a way to make people aware of your brand & what it stands for. You could also use it to provide great customer service & support for your sales team, or as a tool to engage with your audience on a more personal level, building a relationship of trust & respect.
- Who are my customers & how do I attract them? Find out which platforms your existing and potential customers are using online, how they talk, what they pay attention to, what type of content they best relate to and how they look for products and services like yours online
- How much money should I invest in marketing online? This is a tough question that doesn’t have a simple answer. If you asked me this in person, I’d more than likely say “It Depends” followed by “How much can you afford?”. The general rule of thumb is 10% of revenue should be invested back into marketing (though this varies for each company & industry). How much of this budget is spent on inbound depends on your other marketing activities, but like anything, the more you invest in it, the more benefit it will bring.
- How will I know if it’s working? Luckily, Inbound marketing is a data-driven process, which will allow you to measure your progress as you go. At the planning stage, you need to set some KPI’s to benchmark your success. For example, 10 new leads a month, 500 new fans on the Facebook page or 200 downloads of your e-book.
Get Your Website in Order!
Your website is the central hub for your business online. Think of it as your shopfront on the web. Take some time to look around your site and ask yourself some questions (be honest):
- Is my website modern, clean and professional? If it looks like it was made in 1997 (or it was made in 1997) It’s time for a change!
- Is it easy to navigate? If people can’t find what they are looking for easily, they’ll bounce outta there quicker than you can blink!
- Is it responsive on mobile phones & tablets? 50% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices as of Q4 2015 & that number is rising daily.
- Is it easy to update? If you’re going to do inbound marketing, you’re going to need to create content. Lots of content. If you can’t quickly and easily update your site without using a developer to upload every little change, it’s
going to add extra constraints to your workflow & possibly to your wallet
- Is it search engine friendly? If your site can’t be found on the search engines, you’re missing out on a huge source of potential traffic to your site.
If you answered ‘no’ to any of these questions, it’s time to look at updating your site, as the success of your inbound marketing will rely on ALL of these factors.
Once your website is in good order, it’s time to get the inbound party started! Inbound is all about providing good value information to your potential customers and that means content. The best place to start is with a great quality business blog.
Start Building a Business Blog Filled With Information That Will Bring Value to Your Audience
A well-crafted business blog provides excellent content that your target audience will perceive as truly valuable. It could be tips & tricks, an educational piece, or maybe something that provides entertainment value (*cough* cat video *cough*). By providing value to visitors to your site, blogs can easily and effectively lead people to your site and introduce them to your products & services.
As a bonus, building a great business blog can also help position your brand as an industry leader and build trust between you and your potential customers.
Building a great business blog can help position your brand as an industry leader and build trust between you and your potential customers.
Double bonus: Blogging also works hand in hand with SEO, providing a constant stream of fresh pages on your site, each of which can be found by the search engines that giving you further opportunities to rank in the search engines for keywords relating to your products & services.
Get involved in Social Media (If you’re not already)
The rise of social media platforms over the last 10 years has made maintaining a social media presence a necessity. With more than 75% of adults using some form of social media, chances are, most of your customers & potential customers are too, so if you’re not using it – you should be!
To quote Kim Garst:
“People buy from people they know, like and trust and social media is the greatest tool I have EVER seen at building that know, like and trust factor both at lightening speed and at scale.”
Engage with your fans on social media platforms, share your blog posts and other helpful or entertaining content, listen to & get involved with conversations online, run competitions or polls to stimulate conversation and have a little fun!
Explore your options with Paid Ads
Whilst you can generate a lot of traffic organically via your blog and social media channels, there are some areas you will need to spend money online, and one of them is by using paid ads. You might use search engine marketing, like Google Adwords or Bing Ads, to place your ads in the search results of Google or Bing, or you could utilise the power of Facebook Ads & get your message our there with paid ads on Facebook or Instagram.
Which platforms you choose to use should be based on who your customers are and where they hang out online: there’s no point running Instagram ads if your audience is predominately found surfing Google.
Promoting your blog posts with paid ads can generate huge amounts of traffic to your website and if they like what they read, it’s the perfect opportunity for visitors to read more of your blog posts & find out more about your business.
Build Your Email List
An email database is possibly your most important and often overlooked tool in the inbound arsenal. It is the only marketing collateral that you can truly own: all your fans on facebook are worth nothing if one day your fans all move to another new & more exciting platform and you need to build that audience again from scratch.
Building your email list by encouraging your existing fans to sign up for your email list via special offers, downloads or other incentives should be one of your highest priorities online, so that you will still be able to reach them, regardless on where they hang out online.
To sweeten the deal, email still has the best ROI compared to every other form of digital marketing online.
Measure, Analyse, Rinse, Repeat
Finally, measure everything! If you can’t answer questions like how much traffic it took to generate a signup to your ebook, how many leads turned into customers & what the cost was to generate those leads and customers, how will you know how effective your online strategy has been?
Traffic generation, Search Engine Optimisation, Pay Per Click advertising, Blogging, Social Media & email marketing all have their own unique set of metrics that you should be monitoring to help determine the success of your inbound marketing & give you a sound foundation to improve in the future.
Once you’ve got the numbers, use them! The data will become an invaluable guide on what you are doing right, where you are going wrong and where you can improve in the future. Make changes to your strategy based on what the data tells and you have a sound foundation for inbound marketing success!