First Steps: Building an Inbound Marketing Strategy from the Ground Up
In recent years, inbound marketing has emerged as one of the most powerful and effective forms of marketing for businesses in the digital age. There is no doubt that utilizing inbound marketing practices can produce superior results versus traditional outbound methods such as buying email lists or purchasing ads. Inbound marketing emphasizes creating engaging, quality content that attracts potential prospects to your products or services, which typically are already in alignment with their interests.
While inbound marketing is no doubt a highly effective tool, approaching it without a well-thought-out strategy can be an unproductive exercise. If you’re new to the concept of inbound marketing, it will be necessary to invest some serious time and thought into what type of strategy you will utilize in order to guide your customers through a series of logical steps that will take them from being a qualified lead to a successful conversion. Below are four basic steps that will help you build a viable inbound marketing strategy from the ground up.
Step 1: Identify the needs and wants of your potential customer base
If you base your inbound marketing strategy on a flawed perception of the needs and wants of your potential prospects, you will sabotage yourself right off the bat. The accuracy of your weapon makes no difference if you’re shooting at the wrong target. Make sure that you have done sufficient research to find out what your customers want, need and expect from a business that offers the types of products and services that you’re bringing to the market. Search online for forums, blogs, fan sites, Facebook groups, etc. that accurately reflect the type of customer base you’re attempting to reach. Research the common questions, frustrations, complaints, recommendations, likes, suggestions, etc. of that customer base, and especially take note of recurring topics. This initial research will help you tremendously when it comes to developing the type of content that you’ll be promoting through your brand channels.
Step 2: Create “magnetic” content and promote it through multiple online channels
Using the information gathered in the first step, you should already have a good feel of what your market is interested in, and what it doesn’t care about at all. This will give you a basic framework for the type of content you’ll be creating in order to attract new leads to your business offerings. Blogging is an absolute cornerstone of inbound marketing, and it is one of the most effective ways to attract new prospects to your site. Focus on creating informative, educational content that answers your customers’ questions and addresses their pain points. Also make sure to maintain a presence on the major social networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) so that you can put a face to your brand name. The information from Step 1 should give you a good idea of where your potential prospects like to hang out online; regularly visit those online locations and engage with the people in a genuine way.
Step 3: Optimize your website with compelling content and relevant keywords
Your website should be loaded with helpful content and resources for potential prospects to browse. Pay close attention to the types of keywords you place on the website, as many prospects will find you by way of a search engine. Make sure that you include keywords that reflect the type of terms your potential prospects would use in their search queries. Optimize your web pages to address your buyers in an engaging and personal manner.
Step 4: Convert and close
Your website should include contact forms, opt-in subscription buttons, etc., so that you can turn visitors into leads. Give them specific calls-to-action such as “Subscribe to our newsletter”, “Download our free ebook” or “Register for our next webinar”. Once the prospect completes a specific call-to-action, they should be directed to a landing page that will guide them further along in the conversion process, including a way to capture their contact information for follow-up, and eventually to close the sale.
Implementing the above four steps will give you a solid head start in building an effective inbound marketing strategy, but they are only the beginning. Make sure to continue engaging with your buyers after the purchase in order to develop valuable long-term relationships as well.