There are so many people talking about inbound marketing. Today, we thought we would share a behind-the-scenes overview of how inbound marketing really works to help your business grow.
Get Found – This is probably one of the most significant differences between inbound marketing and other digital marketing or internet-based marketing approaches. Inbound marketing takes into consideration that your prospects are looking for you in more places than just Google, Yahoo or Bing.
Think about your own behavior: don’t you find out about businesses on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social media sites? Of course you do.
Getting found isn’t about being on the first page of Google. Getting found is about driving traffic to your website from a strategically architected collection of sources by leveraging educational content. This includes creating original content, curating content, and publishing content in all the right places.
Right now your prospects are out there looking for products and services just like the ones your business provides to your clients. People are looking for articles, videos, podcasts, and other educational information to help them do their jobs and to help them make good decisions.
If you don’t believe that, go to YouTube and put in a few of your favorite search terms related to your business and see the results. YouTube is now the second most popular search engine and the most popular “how to” website in the world. People are starving for content.
Your job as a student of inbound marketing is to create that content, in the format they want, and get it in front of them. Getting it in front of them is a multi-faceted process. While you want to make sure you are ranked as highly as possible on Google, that takes time, and it’s not all up to you, Google’s algorithms (which change almost weekly) have a lot to do with it.
What you can control is what we call, “sourcing.” This part of inbound marketing strategically places your newly created content on blogs, in emails, and on websites where your prospects are already spending their time.
For instance, every business has an industry trade group. Every industry trade group has a website and most have a blog, or at least a place for industry news, information, and updates. Every industry has a trade magazine or two, these magazines have websites with blogs and email newsletters. These are all amazing places for you to put your educational information.
While this process takes some planning, it costs literally nothing (if you have the time and ability to do it yourself) and delivers new visitors to your site the same day, not months like traditional SEO work.
Get Leads – All of you have people visiting your website every day. The challenge is most stop by and leave just as quickly. Your goal as the new inbound marketing expert at your company is to get them to tell you their name (or at least their email address) before they leave by leveraging similarly engaging educational content you used to attract them to your website.
The nice part about this process is these visitors want information and they are willing to give you their email address to get it. What they DON’T WANT is to be sold too. Most websites have the obligatory Contact Us form which we all know starts a sales process. Your potential customers know that too, so if they aren’t ready to speak with a sales person, what can they do on your current site? The answer sadly is probably nothing. They just look around and then leave, never telling you who they are.
Think about the numbers. Most websites only convert 1% of traffic, yours might be less... That means 99% of the people visiting your site are leaving and you never know who they are. If you could get your conversion rate to 2% or 3% that would mean a huge increase in leads.
Look at your site, even if you only get 500 visitors a month you should be seeing around 5 leads a month, but if you increased your conversion rate you would see 10 or 15 leads a month. Now increase traffic to 1,000 visitors a month (this is very doable) you are looking at 20 to 30 leads a month. Can you see the impact inbound marketing has on business performance?
Most of the people visiting your site aren’t ready to fill out a contact us form, but that doesn’t mean they're not leads. Using educational content to get visitors to emerge from hiding and identify themselves is critical to marketing your company in 2012.
Close Deals – Now that you have the leads, how do you convert those into revenue? If you remember the human neuroscience at work here, people make purchase decisions ONLY when their pain becomes acute and when they feel safe with their decision.
Once you know who they are, now you can speak with them 1-on-1, giving them additional educational information, stories, and content that makes them feel comfortable with your business. What used to be done through traditional advertising is now done through email marketing and lead nurturing campaigns for pennies and it's 100% traceable, so we know who opened the email and when they opened it. Try that with a print ad.
Better yet, these can be automated, just set up the program and watch it run. This part of the process is where sales and marketing have to be highly integrated. Remember, your job now is to get them comfortable, not put on the hard sell. If your marketing is educating and your sales people are selling, you might actually be confusing your prospect into selecting your competitors.
Start Today Tip – Take an inbound marketing inventory of your current activities. Do you have enough content to start immediately or do you need to create the content? Have you identified the sites where your prospects are hanging out? Do you know who writes the blog for these sites? Do you know what challenges your prospects face at work and how you solve those challenges in a remarkable way? Do you have a blog on your own site?
These are the basic, get started questions required for an inbound marketing program. If you answered “no” to even one of these questions then you aren’t ready to get started. Stay tuned as we talk about inbound marketing all week, but in the meantime, start getting your content together so you can get found, get leads, and close new customers for your business.
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