Starting an inbound marketing strategy from scratch is not always easy, but it's absolutely vital to every business, regardless of what you do. When done effectively, inbound marketing can be a powerful sales/growth driver.
Creating an effective strategy is no small task—it requres creativity and ingenuity at many levels of the process. The good news is that there is a recipe for success, and it all starts with content. Content will be the driving force behind your company’s social strategies, search strategies and authority building strategies.
Understanding Your Target Audience
Before we define the content strategy that will guide our inbound marketing endeavor as a whole, let’s start with the basics. Who is our audience? An often overlooked and important first step is determining exactly who you are marketing to and tailoring our content to fit their needs, wants and desires.
We also want to get specific in order to drill down our audience to a select group. For example, if you are studio camera rental shop, the target audience for your content (and services) will more than likely be producers and industry professionals looking for relevant information to help them make an informed decision. Once we have our ideal audience determined we can begin to figure out what type of content would be the most engaging for them.
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Develop Your Company as an Authority through Content
Once you know exactly who you want to visit your website you can begin figuring out ways you can help them get to your site. A few of the best ways are to:
1. Develop a consistent blogging strategy. Regular informative and engaging blog posts is one of the absolute best forms of inbound marketing. By producing content that helps educate & inform your audience it helps solidify your company as the authority online in your industry. The point is to make sure that you are always gearing your content towards helping and engaging your carefully chosen audience. This can come in form of how-to guides, answering common questions and sharing success stories. Starting a blogging strategy usually begins by figuring out what some of the most common questions/inquiries your target audience are asking on a consistent basis. The best place to start is within your organization; If you have a sales team poll them to find out what are their most important barriers when closing a deal, If you have a support team ask them what some of the most common support issues are that are being faced, etc... Using this method can help find some great ideas for blog posts. Another fantastic way to fill your blog with quality content is to follow the “content-gap” method.
2. Creative media. This type of content takes on many different forms, 2 in particular are especially effective from a digital perspective. The first is video production, which can be informative, how-to, industry wrap-ups, interviews, product reviews, etc... People love video and if it relates to your target audience it’s a great way to get them to start following your company online. One great example of using video for content marketing success is Moz’s Whiteboard Friday.
The other effective form of creative media is infographics, which can drive tons of traffic from your audience when done correctly. The point with infographics is to take interesting and informative industry data and make it visually engaging. Once you have developed a truly interesting and share-worthy infographic, begin distributing it through several press release networks and sharing them with related industry websites. If the visual content is in-fact compelling it will no doubt be syndicated/shared and the snowball effect of traffic to your site will begin from there. Here are a few great examples of awesome infographics.
3. Social media. Social Media will act as your instant engagement vehicle with your audience via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc. The main uses will be to interact with your audience, asking questions, participate in giveaways and raffles, and update them on industry news and info as well as the content and media that your company develops. The next step would be to promote the content you have developed via Social Media outlets using paid boosts.
This goes directly back to choosing your ideal target audience because now that we have developed some amazing content to help them, we will use ad targeting on Facebook and other outlets to drill down as much as possible to our ideal audience. Thus driving direct targeted social visitors to our content written for people just like them and adding new likes and social shares within the community. The desired effect of these Social Media ads will be to bring new eyes and ears to your content which was developed specifically with them in mind, in the hopes that they will not only find it useful but also share it with their colleagues that are also in your target audience.
Using Search to Your Advantage
No Inbound Strategy would be complete without including a detailed Search Engine Marketing backbone. This many times includes both paid and organic strategies, which work very well in conjunction with each other when done correctly. Search is the ultimate form of inbound marketing because your audience is finding your business organically while searching for exactly what it is that your company does.
The transition from content marketing to search marketing is seamless in that everything we have already developed from a content marketing standpoint directly helps with the search strategy. By developing great, targeted content and promoting it we will be developing natural links and social authority to the domain thus increasing SEO metrics. The next steps will help sharpen the focus by taking the search strategy to more of a science.
1. Keyword research. The idea behind keyword research is simple, what keyword (phrase) would your audience use to search for a business like yours in Google? The first few more obvious keywords will be the groundwork from which you can expand into more in-depth keyword research using Google’s Keyword Planner (this is a free tool offered by Google for advertisers).
Begin by entering a list of the search terms that you feel are most important for your audience to find your business online, then sort these keywords by relevance and search volume. Once you have identified the most important keywords you can begin optimizing the pages of your website for those keywords.
2. On-site changes. This is the area of your SEO strategy that begins to work more as a science than an art. There are a large series of HTML tags that need to be optimized using your already chosen keywords. Some of these tags include meta-descriptions, H1 tags, & title tags just to name a few.
In addition to optimizing the HTML tags it is also imperative to optimize the content on the page you would like to rank by adding the important keywords to the pages copy. The list of on-site changes is rather large and therefore we won’t go into full details in this post. For more detail info for on-site changes please refer to this fantastic SEO Checklist.
3. Guest blogging & offsite authority building. Once you have developed an on-site blog and content strategy you can begin expanding your reach to outside blogs and offer content contributions as well as beginning to build relationships within the community. One great way to do this is to engage on the blogs that you would want to contribute to in the form of blog comments.
Start by adding to the conversation as well as replying to replies by the authors to engage them as well. This helps build a presence inside the community while developing relationships with existing authors on blogs that you would like to contribute to.
4. Paid search. In addition to organic search strategy, it’s many times important to implement paid search strategies mainly via Google Adwords. Implementing paid search allows you to test the traffic of certain keywords that you will be targeting in organic search to determine the quality of the visitors.
By developing the groundwork of quality content that fills the needs & wants of your target audience you can tailor a custom inbound marketing strategy that will not only bring you traffic and sales but also help develop a strong brand name & presence online. Content also helps develop a company as an authority in a certain industry, something that should be the goal of all businesses when developing an inbound marketing strategy.