There is one main obstacle for growing your business that has evolved in recent years. Your potential buyers are being over-saturated with information due to the increase in availability of this information.
In fact, Sirius Decisions reported the average sales cycle has increased 22% over the past 5 years due to more decision makers being involved in the buying process.
So it has become your job as a business owner to make sure that this information is coming to them at the right time, in the right format, on the right platforms. That’s where an inbound marketing strategy can come into play.
Now you’re probably thinking “Oh man, I need to create a whole strategy? But Laura I already have a basic business strategy, can’t I just add certain marketing tactics in where they fit?” Well, I’ve come up with a solution to this… simple ways to use inbound marketing to grow your business. Let’s get started!
When I say research does it sound like reading through case studies or a lot of looking at Wikipedia and copying and pasting? Welcome to the world of simple marketing because it’s neither of these things! When it comes to inbound marketing, research is really quite simple. All you need is to know your business, know your industry, and know your customer, 3 things that hopefully you’re pretty well versed in already! Answer these questions and you’ll be well on your way.
1) Define Your Business
- What are the key performance indicators you want to measure?
- What are your revenue goals?
- What does growing your business mean to you? (Amount of leads coming in, revenue generated, customers acquired, number of retainers, etc.)
- What is your sales process like? (Length, content used to educate prospects, number of people prospects might talk to, etc.)
2) Study Up on Your Industry
You might think you know your industry inside and out but there will always be changes, updates, and new innovations around the corner. In order to get a better grasp of what’s going on and to stay ahead of the curve, industry research is a must.
- What are your competitors doing in regards to content on their website?
- What current events and news are going on?
- Is there a business to business marketplace you can participate in?
- What are the current industry statistics for your goals? (To ensure that your goals are realistic and attainable.)
3) Understand Your Customer
To understand your customer better talking to the sales team always helps. They are the ones in direct contact with your potential customers which means they hold a lot of insight into what your customers want. Here are some questions to ask:
- What 5 questions does your sales team answer the most?
- What are the biggest pain points for customers when they come to you?
- What are your customer demographics?
- What messaging do they respond to most?
SEO sounds complicated but it’s simple if you know exactly what to focus on. It consists of all the factors on a website page that influence search engine ranking. In order to get found for the keywords you’re your customers are searching for (which is everything under “Know your customer” above), it’s important to optimize every page that is created on your website. When it comes to SEO don’t forget to:
4) Include keywords within the page content, in elements such as:
- Page text
5) Include keywords within the page properties, such as:
- Meta description
6) Include keywords when uploading and inserting your images by:
- Putting keyword(s) in the name of the image (example: inbound-marketing-tips)
- Using an alt tag with the keyword in it
7) Link keywords in your content to other pages on your website
This helps distribute SEO authority across your domain. To do this, simply hyperlink a keyword on one page to the appropriate URL of another page on your site, such as:
- Other website pages
- Blog posts
- Landing pages
Sometimes when people talk about blogging being the key to growing business my eyes glaze over and I hear the teacher’s voice from Charlie Brown play on a loop in my head. It’s been said so many ways and so many times before but it is still extremely true… blogging and premium content is the universal remote of inbound marketing.
Want to see results? Just launch a piece of premium content that your visitors have to fill out a form to receive and start consistently posting blogs. I promise you’ll see results, and if you don’t then tweet me @lalalaurahogan and I’ll personally give you a free assessment to see what’s up.
Blogging is all about bringing visitors to your site. Posting blogs is how you bring in organic traffic to your website and is a highly recommended tactic if you want to grow your website traffic. Here are some quick tips on how you can improve your blogging strategy to support inbound Marketing:
8) Publish the right content
Write content around the questions, issues, and challenges your potential customers want the answers to. This will help your potential customers not only find valuable information, but also help introduce them to your brand.
9) Publish content consistently
This depends on time and budget. If you’re outsourcing blog writing then you can blog numerous times a week, if you have one in-house person responsible for blogging maybe you can only do it once or twice. Just make sure it’s consistent!
10) Determine the right angle
Your competitors are probably already blogging so take some tips from what they’re strategy looks like. If they have a niche in the industry that they blog about a lot then maybe find your business’ niche and blog on what you know best in order to stand out.
11) Use a calls-to-action (CTA)
Placing a CTA at the end of your blog urging visitors to download premium content will definitely help grow your leads and sales!
Premium content is all about converting these anonymous visitors that blogging brings to your site into leads that you can nurture with information and hopefully close as a customer.
12) Determine the right content
Premium content is more in depth than blogging and should include more middle of the funnel information that your website visitors will fill out a form to learn about. Blogging brings people to your site but premium content will convert these people to leads for your sales team if you’re offering content that they might want to know more about.
13) Figure out frequency
There really isn’t a frequency suggestion that I have for premium content because it varies depending on what you’re business has time for. These can be pretty time consuming and/or costly so a general suggestion would be one a quarter but some businesses might have time for one a month, it all depends.
14) Try different types of content
there are all different kinds of premium content, try to have various different kinds because your buyer might prefer to watch a video over read a PDF and vice versa! Some suggestions: eBooks, webinars, whitepapers, slidedecks, tools, advanced checklists, case studies, assessments, demos, kits, etc.
I hope everything is still sounding simple! Lead communication is where things start to get really fun. Once you start bringing in leads it’s time to figure out how you want to communicate with them. This is based off of numerous factors: who they are, what specific service or product they want from you, which questions they want answered, and how much communication they’ve had with you thus far.
Lead nurturing is all about making sure a lead is qualified and sales-ready before they talk to your sales team. This ensures that the sales team isn’t wasting time on unqualified leads.
16) Determine your timing
You want to time lead nurturing in line with your sales cycle and you also don’t want to bombard them with email so quickly that they unsubscribe from all email communication. If your sales cycle is a few months long, time it so they get an email every few weeks.
17) Consistenly refine your messaging
Tell them what they want to hear! If they downloaded an offer, then you know the kind of information that they’re interested in. Keep giving them relevant content or ask more questions to find out what else they want to learn about.
18) Decide what to give them
This is where blogging comes in handy, as you can send them blog posts in the lead nurturing emails. This not only provides them with more information, but it gets them back to your website where they can interact with your business further.
I hope these 18 tips have given you a better understanding for how integrating inbound marketing can help you grow your business. Optimizing for SEO will attract the right types of visitors, who should then convert and be nurtured on the right types of premium content that you create.
These nurtured leads will then be teed up for better success through the sales process, helping you close more business. If you'd like to learn more about growing your business through inbound, subscribe to our podcast below!
Originally published Feb 28, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated August 28 2017