How to Build a Smart Inbound Marketing Strategy

Image

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Is LinkedIn Becoming Just Another Resume Site?

 

I have blogged quite a bit about LinkedIn being an important site to maintain a professional presence on. We’ve discussed what to include or not include in a profile and why it’s a good idea to give a comprehensive picture of what your skills, job history, and education entail. So why is LinkedIn under fire from job seekers as well as employers?

Sites like Career Builder and Monster have been around for quite some time. Typically, these sites offer free memberships to people who are seeking jobs while they charge employers to post job listings. This makes sense, right? The job seeker and the employer both benefit, as the seeker is able to browse and apply for many different listings, and the employer gets a wide variety of applications to choose from.

LinkedIn, on the other hand, has always billed itself as a place for people to make professional connections. At first, the ability to look for a job or a new employee on the site was just a perk. Now, LinkedIn is turning job hunting into a business entity. While it does seem like a natural fit for the site, since the focus is on professional skills, some people feel as though LinkedIn is going about this shift the wrong way.

If you choose to post your resume or apply for jobs on LinkedIn, there is the opportunity to pay roughly $30/month to have your resume bumped to the top of the pile on job listings that you apply for. However, employers can see by a special badge that is assigned to your profile that you have in fact paid for this upgrade. So while your application may be more visible, employers are also able to tell that you paid. This may accomplish the results that you’re looking for – employers may look more closely at your application. But it may also have the opposite effect. Employers may discount people with paid memberships, assuming that they are underqualified and need to pay to have their application bumped to the top of the proverbial pile rather than let their experience speak for itself.

So essentially, LinkedIn is profiting not only from companies who choose to pay to advertise open positions on the site, but also from job-seekers who pay their monthly fee.

So does all of this mean that you shouldn’t use LinkedIn? No. I think it’s still important to maintain a great presence on the site. While it can be used for job hunting, it’s still a great place to network and showcase your skills. If you are using the site to find or post a job, understand how the process works specifically on LinkedIn and consider carefully whether the paid membership is worth it. Also, if you are an employer, it’s always important to review as many candidates as you can. You never know who could be the perfect fit for your company.

(Photo Source)

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Update Your Way To A Successful Psychological Social Marketing Strategy

 

A successful social marketing strategy comes with a lot of extensions.  One part of this is in the social updates, you know, the time when you publish your blog posts to different social media accounts and pray to God it goes viral.

However, a successful social marketing plan can come with you actually being prepared in your updating! Just like engaging, interacting, and getting people to follow you, the social update is it’s own strategy in itself and can determine whether or not people will see your update when the time comes.Social Marketing Strategy

I’m reminded of something one of my friends said, “Lick it, throw it against the wall, and hope it sticks!” (I can’t remember what he was referring too, probably something dirty, but this example will suffice for now).

This example works because as I browse through people’s updates, it looks as though this is exactly what people are doing. They are throwing up any old text and attaching their blog link to it and hope that it works!

Have you ever done that before?

Sure you have, we all have at one point or another! But there is a strategy when it comes to this “arm” of social marketing that you can do to improve your results in social media.

Using Psychology in Social Marketing

If you’ve been reading my blog at all, then you will know that I have been deeply researching the psychology of social media marketing as of late and have uncovered some explosive results that have catapulted my experiences, and my clients, 100-fold.

Think about it. When people that are involved in business log on to social media they usually scroll through the updates until to they get to either someone they know, or something that catches their attention. I find myself doing it all the time. Subconsciously, you are unaware of everything around you due to a thing called reticular formation.

This is a thing located at the base of the brain, and it’s main function is to discriminate against irrelevant background stimuli. For example, someone could be living next to a set of train tracks and said train could come blasting through in the middle of the night and that person, since they were accustomed to the noise, never noticed it and didn’t wake up. On the other hand, that same person could be jerked awake in the middle of a sound sleep when an unfamiliar noise comes from the living room.

Reticular formation is important in social media.

These people are missing your updates because you haven’t said or done anything that will “jolt” them out of thinking that you are irrelevant.

What can jolt them out? Colors in updates and knowing what cognitive recognition is in social marketing too can really help to drive them to your site.

Have you ever really sat down and scrutinized what you’re writing in your updates? It makes a difference! Certain words are more catching to the eye than others. This is something that I discuss in my ebook Psychological Success in Social Media.

A Few Words That Don’t Work:

  • Check this out
  • Re-typing the title
  • Adjectives such as “Interesting” and “Amazing”– Let me explain this one: when you say that something is amazing, then you’re taking away that person’s ability to judge for themselves and therefore causing an emotional wall to go up in their heads and deem the post irrelevant.

Let me re-iterate, while these may work with your fans and followers, the point is getting people that don’t know you to act on your update, engage it, share, and visit your blog!

Emotion & Social Marketing

Emotion is another psychological tool that you can use that will drive traffic to your site. Whether you know it or not, you are creating some sort of emotion in your update with a reader…even if it’s boredom, they are feeling something so it’s important to take a close look at how you’re displaying your writing along with your blog post.

One emotion that never fails is the Hope For Gain/Fear of Loss emotion in social marketing. Have you ever seen those squeeze pages that promise tons of money, telling you a sad story of how they used to be “just like you” with no money until they started doing such and such?

Sure you have! And just like me, you’ve probably spent more money than you care to admit on pages like this because you were drawn in through your emotions. You didn’t know the person, but for some reason you trusted them and you spent money.

For a split second you experienced the “Hope for Gain/Fear of Loss” emotion that most internet marketers use in squeeze pages. You had a hope that this would work for you. Even though you knew deep down that it was probably a scam, there was a small hope inside of you that this person was telling the truth so you went for it!

These types of emotions are harder to pull out of a person in a social marketing update. Simply because your update is better when it’s shorter. However, there is still ways to create this emotion with a few words.

People hate to be left out. They also want to know everything there is to know about whatever it is they’re doing. Tell them they’re doing it wrong and you know how to fix it is one way to create a fear of loss emotion. Telling people that something is almost gone will also bring them in as well. For example, I’m doing a contest that’s almost over at my blog for a free Twitter marketing tool. Even though the contest had 20-some days left in it, I mentioned that the contest was “almost over” and they came flocking in droves for fear of being left out.

Look at your social marketing update

From now on, don’t just throw any old thing up there and “hope it sticks”! Create a strategy that will improve your interactions and engagements in your social updates and you will start seeing a more positive reaction from people you’ve never heard of before!

The social marketing strategy doesn’t stop at building fans and followers. It doesn’t stop at all! Keep it going by demonstrating the perfect update that will keep people sharing and visiting long after you’ve posted it!

 

Wade is an internet marketer and a professional social media marketer. Wade loves helping people make money with their blogs and he is the founder and creator of BloggersMakeMoney. Check out Wade’s new ebook, The “WOW” Factor: Psychological Success in Social Media on how you produce an emotion from the reader every time you update.