The days of quick wins in online marketing are over, to be effective and positively impact your bottom line you need to be thinking long term. So what do you need to focus on to make your marketing efforts soar in 2018?
This blog post will cover the important elements of inbound marketing, if you have not heard of inbound marketing yet you are in the right place and if you have then the information below will be a really useful checklist exercise to see if you have everything you need in place.
Inbound marketing is a customer focused methodology which operates on the premise of providing value to potential customers. This means that you build up a relationship with a potential customer and through careful nurturing you provide them with relevant, useful content at every stage of their journey until they are ready to utilise your services, this enables you to sell to qualified leads increasing your success rate.
The attract phase of the inbound methodology looks at the first touch point with potential customers, where they are starting the process of looking for a solution to a problem they may be having.
The first thing you need to consider within the attract phase is how does your website stack up? Is it user friendly, easy to navigate, is it clear what you do within the first 5 seconds of landing on your website?
If you hesitated on any of the three points above then your website probably needs some work. Selecting the right system to power your site can be tricky, WordPress is one of the most common platforms on the web and has huge capability when it comes to building a compliant, search engine friendly website. If you want to get serious about your inbound marketing then you should consider Hubspot’s COS, this allows you to have everything in one place and really positions you for success. Using Hubspot’s growth driven design principle is a smart move too if you want to consistently grow your business over the next 5 years.
It is great having a website on a good platform but now you need to think about making sure it is optimised enough for search engines and searchers to find you. There are several on-page elements that you should optimise to improve your relevance and search presence, good platforms such as Hubspot’s COS will make these recommendations on your pages so you cant lose! The basic elements that you need to consider are:
- Keywords – make sure your page includes a mention of relevant keywords and synonyms of those keywords
- Page title – the page title is the clickable blue link that appears in the search results, this plays an important part in your pages ranking potential. Make sure your title does not exceed 70 characters, is unique and also contains a primary keyword
- Meta description – this should be used as the call to action for your page, it is the bit of copy that appears in the search results under the title tag. Keep it between 150-160 characters and make it compelling, including a clear call to action where applicable.
- URL – you should always try and have a relevant and clear URL rather than a random string of letters or number, also try to include a primary keyword if you can
- Page content – make sure that you include your primary keyword throughout the page. Don’t overthink the keyword density and ultimately write for the searcher
There are other elements to consider however if you start getting into a habit of optimising the points in the list above you will be well on your way to better visibility!
Your blog is going to be vital to the success of your inbound marketing campaigns, you should use this as a place to provide helpful, educational and thought leadership content. The more relevant content you can put out in a consistent manner the more entry points you will have within search engines, you will also be recognised for providing value on relevant topics.
It may take you a while to find your rhythm when it comes to blogging, you should create personas for the potential customers you are trying to reach and keep those personas in mind when you write. It also helps when creating content if you stay narrow and play to your strengths by talking about your specialism or niche. Flaunt Digital Inbound work with a lot of companies that sit within the manufacturing and engineering sector so try to provide value to decision makers within that sector by producing relevant and valuable content they can really benefit from.
Social media is big, really big. Companies no matter how big or small should be maintaining an active presence on social media channels and pushing out content as well as interacting with other relevant content and people on these platforms.
Once you have a regular stream of content being published on your blog use social media to share that content, utilising scheduling tools such as Hubspot’s social publishing tool or Buffer makes managing this process a breeze. Another important factor is to make sure you thank people when they take time to interact with your posts, and also engage in relevant conversations where you can.
If you are really looking to accelerate your inbound marketing it is worth considering using paid ads to do so. With the ever evolving, complex targeting capabilities available to advertisers paid ads can be the key to accelerating your growth.
Discovering which platform is best placed for success is key as all businesses are different, but when deployed continually the return on investment can be very exciting.
The convert stage of the inbound methodology focuses on how to move potential customers from the high level research stage to a little further down the buyers journey. Providing additional value and catching their attention with more relevant, useful information forms the basis for the convert stage.
Call to actions are an effective way of creating an action for a user to take as well as presenting them with an opportunity to gain some further valuable information.
A call to action should be visually striking (within reason) and include an action orientated word such as “Download” or “Register”. They should sit in an easy to find spot and fit in with the theme of your website so that they naturally flow into view at the right time. Don’t try to shock a user into clicking a call to action, this is the wrong approach and is more likely to aggravate your user rather than help them.
Call to actions dont always have to have a specific action, including call to actions such as social share or follow buttons is also good practice. Always include a type of call to action within your content, you worked hard to create that piece and if its good then ask for something in return!
Creating effective landing pages is absolutely imperative for converting website visitors into leads. There is an art to creating a successful landing page and it may take you a couple of attempts to get it right. A couple of things to keep in mind when creating a landing page are:
- Remove unnecessary navigation links – a landing page should position a clear action to a site visitor so removing any top level navigation links means the amount of actions available on that page is reduced
- Have a clear purpose – present the visitor with clear instructions that are shaped by the call to action the click through from
- Place important information above the fold – if a user lands on a landing page and has to scroll down to find an action this creates more work for them, make it instantly apparent what you are asking them to do by placing relevant information above the fold.
Effective landing pages may take some time to achieve but they can provide outstanding results, perform A/B tests to determine what works an what doesn’t.
Collecting the right information in a non intrusive way can be an art in itself but is vital for long term success. You are looking to collecting enough information to inform your ongoing strategy but not too much information that a visitor won’t fill it out in the first place!
As a general rule we look at the content being delivered following a form fill and try to quantify how valuable that content is, which in turn is reflected in the amount of information we then ask for in the form.
For example, if we are asking a visitor to sign up to our newsletter then we only ask for name and email address, if we are offering a free comprehensive guide that is designed to solve a specific problem we may ask for, name, email, company size, website address, turnover, location. Make sense? This principle will help you steer your form creation and make sure you don’t ask for an unreasonable amount of information.
The close stage of the inbound marketing methodology is when a visitor has turned into a lead and travelled down the buyers journey to the stage where they have now been furnished with enough information to make a decision. They may still take a little nudge to turn them into a customer though and the close stage is designed to give you the best chance of turning them into a customer.
Email is not dead, in fact it has never been more relevant! The key to effective email is relevance and value, no one wants to receive a cold email with irrelevant information in it.
Utilising a tool such as Hubspot allows you to take advantage of their built in email features and send out truly useful email. Personalise email to include things such as first name’s and company names to make your emails specific to each individual, include relevant information based on what other actions they have taken on your site. These steps will make sure your email is not only opened but acted upon!
Marketing automation can refer to a whole range of strategies and techniques, what I am referring to here is the use of action based workflow’s which is a powerful feature available within Hubspot.
Workflows are a powerful way to interact with your leads based on their interactions and contact profile information, there are hundreds of trigger points and several types of enrolment criteria to get a more in-depth understanding on how to set up workflows check this post out.
Essentially what you are looking to do here is keep front of mind with your lead and continue to take them further along the buyers journey. You have the opportunity to intelligently and automatically delivery them relevant information at the right time, based on an action they have taken. This means you can understand their intent and make your content have even more impact.
CRM (CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT)
CRM systems are a very powerful way to keep information on your clients which allows you to maintain up to date records based on actions they take.
Rather than having an excel sheet that you have to constantly manually update a CRM system allows you to evolve your contact records over time and build a really detailed picture. Invaluable.
This ties into having a CRM, contacts are the people within it. Building a detailed contact record for each of your leads has multiple benefits:
- Learn action based statistics about your contact
- Keep an up to date record that is visible to all members of your sales team
- Manually add contacts into workflows if you spot an opportunity relevant to them
Data is key and keeping up to date and comprehensive contact records is not only good practice but key to long term success.
Lead scoring is a super powerful way to qualify a contact, scoring contacts based on actions they have taken means you can address their pain points on a granular level.
Lead scoring can be done manually or automatically within Hubspot’s platform and allows constant evolution of your lead qualification process. Scoring contacts based on website actions is really powerful and allows you to have significant leverage when communicating with a lead meaning you can talk to them on an individual level.
MANAGE & DELIGHT
The final piece of the inbound marketing puzzle to keep your strategy future proof is the manage and delight stage. There are several elements to this but essentially you this is where you analyse and report on campaign performance as well as employing techniques such as SMART content to further personalise contacts experiences with your brand.
REPORTING & ANALTICS
Reporting has always been key to successful marketing campaigns and the more data you have access to the more you can learn and refine your strategy.
Hubspot is a full funnel marketing platform which means you can track visitors right from the very first interaction right through to them becoming a customer. That means that you can confidently report on the true return on investment for your marketing campaigns, no more guessing or complex reporting formulas just clear, transparent ROI reporting that shows how your marketing spend is contributing to your bottom line.
Smart content is a very cool way of continuing to show love to your visitors after they have interacted with you and given you their contact information.
The way it works is when a visitor that is a contact visits your page the page is updated dynamically to include a personalised experience:
Normal piece of content with no personalisation:
Smart piece of content with personalisation:
You can see how powerful smart content can be!
You might think that when you have a contract signed that is job done but that definitely is not the case. Your ultimate aim is to continue to develop your relationship with your contacts by delivering useful content and information to them on an ongoing basis.
Following this method you are looking to turn your existing customers into promoters of your business. So when you do convert those leads make sure you continue to show them love and make them feel special, they will inherently tell their colleagues and friends about you and that will likely result in referred business.
There are many ways in which you can future proof your marketing strategy however we believe in order to succeed in 2018 and beyond you need to adopt the inbound marketing methodology. Doing so may seem like a big move but it will pay off long term and continue to do so.
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