In an ideal world, you would be active in all areas of inbound marketing and have all the pieces of the puzzle working together and in sync. This is truly what needs to be done in order to see the best results from an inbound marketing campaign. However, the reality for most business owners is that this is only possible by hiring an inbound marketing firm which for some is not possible.
The other option is to create a strategy which is based around having limited time and resources. Although this is not the best option and will not produce nearly the types of returns as a full blown strategy, it is a much better option than simply ignoring inbound marketing.
Instead of simply focusing on just one or two activities, I would recommend breaking up the inbound marketing process into multiple "phases" and work on completing those phases. As you complete one of the phases, you could then move to start working on the next phase. This strategy will take much longer to ramp up and get organized, however, once established this will have much better returns than simply picking one or two activities.
So how would someone break up the inbound marketing process into phases? The following are the general steps for the creation of an inbound marketing strategy and would be how it could be broken up into phases to complete:
Create Premium Content Offers
In the first phase, you will be spending a great deal of time picking strategic content offers that you can offer the visitors to your website. This should be tied back in with your marketing strategy and geared toward your target client. The content offers could include, but are not limited to, ebooks, webinars, white papers, case studies, etc.
I would suggest creating 2-3 premium content offers that you can offer on your website, each with a different focus and catering to prospects in different parts of the sale cycle. Creating these pieces of content will be time consuming and you may not see any initial return, however, these will be critical in converting prospect website visitors into leads and over time will prove to be extremely valuable.
Fully Optimize Your Website
Once you have successfully created several pieces of premium content and have them available for download on your website, you can then move to the second phase which is optimizing your website for three things: on-site SEO, usability and to convert visitors to leads.
Making your website and content search friendly and optimized for potential customers searching on the web is extremely important to the inbound marketing strategy. The users searching online for terms related to your business' products or services are already qualified and have a much higher conversion rate. You can learn more about optimizing your website for search in our free ebook, "The Essentials Guide to Inbound Marketing and SEO"
Once a visitor lands on your website, it's then critical that your website is extremely user friendly and engages the visitor to stay on your website and learn more. The topic of usability, UI and UX design is huge in the web design industry and with some simple Google searches you can find a fountain of great information on this topic and how to optimize usability.
To successfully convert website visitors (or prospects) into leads, you must have a perfect mix of great call to actions, strong landing pages and targeted premium content offers. Creating a successful mix of these three items is a science and takes time to develop and refine. Here are some helpful resources to check out to help start optimizing for conversions:
Build Audience, Promote Content and Drive Traffic
This phase is a "beast" in itself and I'm not going to spend a lot of time on it in this article. There are a great deal of additional resources available on our website (and on the web) of how to do this effectively. With limited time and resources, I would recommend three key points: SEO, Blogging and a monthly educational email newsletter.
Work hard to fully optimize your own website as per Google good practices. We have an in-depth, free webinar on this subject: "Supercharge Your Local SEO: The Complete Guide" which I would strongly recommend you checking out. Although it is geared towards local SEO, the principles and concepts can be applied for any type of targeting.
Start a 3 day a week blog set for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Make sure the topics are ones that potential customers would find valuable and that each blog is fully optimized for SEO. Once posted, leverage your social networks, email lists and sharing sites to help promote the blogs to pull people to your site to read it. The goal is, once on your website, the prospect visitor will convert on a premium content download and turn into a lead.
Lastly, I would focus on building up your newsletter subscriber list with quality, targeted subscribers. Make sure you explain the value subscribers receive by signing up on all your call to actions. This should not be a sales newsletter, rather, an educational newsletter that provides quality content, links to popular blog posts, company news/updates, resources with a small "dash" of sales and promotions mixed in.
Here are other educational resources on how to build your audience, promote content and drive traffic to your website:
Review Metrics and Improve Lead Conversion
Once you are successfully implementing the previous phase, now is a great time to start setting up reviews to go through everything you're doing to try and improve. I would recommend starting quarterly or every other month and as you have more time, move to monthly or bi-weekly reviews.
Here are some general questions to answer while reviewing your metrics:
- How are visitors finding our website?
- Are these visitors converting into leads?
- Which call to actions are receiving high click through rate and which ones are not?
- How can we improve our call to actions, landing pages and content offers to try and improve conversion rates.
Take some time to step back and make any improvements you see fit in order to start refining your inbound marketing strategy and maximize your efforts.
Again, the above phases are the very basics and are only part of the inbound marketing strategy, however, they are the critical steps I feel a small business owner should focus on. Understandably, even this strategy is a great deal of work; however, marketing your business is critical for the continued growth and development of your company.
It is also important to effectively divide your time between the "day-to-day" and the long term business planning/building activities such as marketing. Too many small business owners get bogged down in the day to day and don't block off enough time to focus on the more important activities that will help your business continue to grow.
If you have any questions, please post in the comments or tweet to us and we'd be happy to help.