Inbound Marketing: What to Expect in the First Quarter
If you’re starting up an inbound marketing strategy, you may be wondering what to expect – especially right out of the gate. You’ve probably heard all the good stuff about inbound marketing, about how your business will attracting qualified leads right and left without ever having to make a cold call or send an email blast to a purchased list. And it’s true – inbound marketing can do that for you. But the other truth is, inbound marketing can take a while to build up enough steam to be a self-propelled lead-generation machine. The key is to persevere and have patience. Once you make it through the first phase, you’ll be well on your way to customers knocking on your door.
Phases of an inbound marketing strategy
Inbound marketing has four major marketing phases that must be successfully implemented in order to generate leads and ultimately clients. These four actions are:
The content you create for your inbound marketing initiative must fit into these four categories and be designed with your target customers in mind. But before you can convert a visitor into a lead, let alone close the lead into a customer or delight that customer into a brand advocate, you’ve got to get them hooked. You’ve got to attract them. The first quarter of your inbound marketing initiative should be focused primarily on getting the best prospects on your website, reading and downloading your content. You may not see a ton of customers, but by implementing the tools below, you’ll see a significant increase in traffic and qualified leads.
How to attract qualified leads
Keywords are the words and phrases your target customers use in search engines to find the products or services you offer. Before you get started creating content, think of and conduct some research on which ones you can and want to be found for. The more relevant content you produce that focuses on these keywords, the higher your website will rank in search results, meaning more people will see the content, increasing your potential to generate more leads. Choose your keywords carefully and systematically, then optimize your website pages, links and content around these words and phrases.
Blogging forms the foundation of effective inbound marketing. It’s vital to have a blog that is updated regularly and relevantly in order to attract new visitors to your website. But the kind of content you post is equally vital. During the “Attract” phase, you’re simply trying to draw people to your page and get them to think of you as a reliable source of information. So make sure your content is educational and positions your brand as a thought leader in your industry. Do not try to sell anything on your blog, but instead incorporate calls to action that inspire the reader to give you their name and email address on a landing page in exchange for more information.
- Website landing pages
All pages of your website should be optimized with keywords, links and dynamic content, but you should also include landing pages that offer more targeted information to your customers in the form of premium content. This content should only be available to people willing to exchange their information, so it needs to be worth their while. It also needs to take them another step deeper into the buying process, because once people have decided that your content is worth their name and email, they’ve become a qualified lead and your strategy changes from “Attract” to “Convert.”
- Social media
During the “Attract” phase, you should also implement social media to increase your reach and humanize your brand. Get on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and possibly consider Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube. Post regularly and share your content as well as interesting and relevant content from other sources. Interact with your followers when they comment and engage with others in your industry. Making your brand as visible as possible on social media while not overwhelming your followers and potential customers is a fine line, so before you make any post, ask whether it’s unique and valuable to your audience. If it’s a continual string of sales pitches, your followers will drop quickly.
Remember that when starting an inbound marketing initiative, the first few weeks and months are all about content creation and strategy development for said content. You’re working to attract the right visitors to your website, and once they’re there, you’ll have the right foundation in place to convert, close and delight them.