Marketers the world over know how important inbound marketing has become over the last few years. Cold calling and purchasing leads just doesn’t cut it anymore, at least, not in the ecommerce world or its sister industries. But before we delve into how to build a rock solid inbound marketing strategy, first let’s discuss how to put together a savvy overall marketing plan.
Marketing is about as important to small businesses (or any size business really) as water is to grass. That is, if you don’t water the grass, it simply will not grow. It’s the same with your business. You may break even or make a small profit, but if you don’t market your business, it just won’t grow.
What do you need for a decent marketing plan? Three things: a budget, resources, and reporting measures. What else? If you’re serious about marketing, which I hope you are, you’ll also need to hire a loyal marketing professional.
Read on and get the scoop on how to focus your marketing efforts in the inbound realm.
In & Out of Inbound Marketing
The best thing about inbound marketing is that there are many, many ways to go about it. From email marketing to content curation, SEO (search engine optimization) to social media marketing, there are so many ways to pursue inbound marketing that the list could literally go on forever.
Now, that may seem a bit overwhelming to you, but don’t worry! Just because there are a zillion ways to market your business from an inbound standpoint doesn’t mean you should try to tackle every single one of them.
So, take a deep breath, and start thinking about what kind of inbound marketing tactics will work best for your business.
To help you in your quest for business growth and success, the following steps will give you a hand in mapping out and implementing the best possible inbound marketing plan for your business.
Build a Marketing Foundation
- Create a keyword list. You don’t necessarily have to use something like the Google AdWords Keyword Planner to do this, however, it is certainly recommended that you use some kind of keyword tool to gain additional insight into which keywords and phrases related to your business give you the most ‘SEO juice.’ Start by sitting down and brainstorming. Use logic. You know your business and what it does inside and out, so develop your keyword list first by thinking along those lines.
- Figure out EXACTLY who your buyers are. Knowing who your buyers and potential customers are is the first step toward marketing to them. Can you imagine trying to sell web design services using cat memes? But a cat food manufacturer might see drastically different results with the same concept. At the end of the day, it’s about knowing how your target market feels, thinks, and operates. You need to know what makes them tick. Try creating a buyer persona, i.e., a fictional character that represents your ideal customer.
- Identify your marketing goals. One of the biggest mistakes people make when they set up an inbound marketing strategy is that they forget to set goals. How is this possible? Well, when you’re new to the game, it might make sense that you just want to ‘see what happens’ with your strategy and evaluate it from there. But how will you evaluate what works and what doesn’t if you don’t set specific, measurable goals? It’s about figuring out where you’re at and consistently making sure you’re moving forward.
- Narrow down a content strategy. Don’t just give this step lip service. Do your research, and decide which types of content will best serve what you and your business have to offer. If your brand name is popular online, you might want to tackle the many popular social media platforms out there to gain traction. But if your potential customers are more apt to respond to an email than like a Facebook post, start by writing templates and testing versions.
- Develop a company blog. Here’s where all the parts start to come together. Take that keyword list you developed back at step 1, keep your target market in mind, along with your goals and content strategy (steps 2-4), and start writing. If you’re not a wordsmith (hey, some people just aren’t!) contract the work out to a web author, preferably someone who already has an online following and is familiar with your industry.
You might be thinking, “I get steps 1-4, but why do I need a blog? What if I’d rather just update social media pages instead of writing an actual article?” That’s a good question. But consider this: you can tell people you’re an expert in your industry, or you can show them.
Trust me; showing them is much more effective.
A blog is not just a space where words live. It’s a place where people go to get to know your company, a space where you can show off your insider industry expertise and prove yourself worthy of those potential customers who do come across it.
Well-written blogs help your website rank higher in search engine results. Blog articles give you something real, that you own, to share on social media. Blogs are one of the core concepts of all online content.
What do you think? Have you created a stellar inbound marketing strategy that you’d like to share? Leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter and start a conversation!
Image courtesy of Flickr user Stefan Erschwendner.