If you’re running a professional services firm, you’re probably a fairly analytical person. Just look at the types of firms that fit the profile...
Typically, people running accounting firms, law firms, engineering firms, IT consulting firms and architectural firms all have something in common: they have to be detail-oriented, they have to be obsessed with their processes and most are looking at numbers all day long.
Even attorneys are usually individuals who are most comfortable in the black and white world of the law.
This might be why marketing has always challenged people who practice the crafts identified above. After all, marketing has historically been more of an art than a science and the people who deliver marketing services have always been more artistic than scientific—leaning on abstract concepts like "getting your name out there" and "building your brand."
But today, marketing has become very scientific and inbound marketing specifically has become a process of executing, tracking, adjusting, executing, tracking, adjusting and then doing it all over again with the goal of optimizing marketing program performance week over week, month over month.
Here are a set of scientifically proven inbound marketing tactics and the quantifiable measures that go along with them:
Website design – You probably think a website is a necessary evil, right? Every business has one and you need on too, regardless of any numbers. The reality is, as the cornerstone of an inbound marketing program, website design is one of the most important aspects of your marketing. A key metric associated with your website is traffic, a.k.a. how many people are seeing your site every single day.
This is one of your most important inbound marketing metrics. The other two key metrics associated with your website are the conversion rate and the number of leads the site is generating. The conversion rate is the total number of leads divided by the total number of visitors. Most firms range between 1% conversion rate on the low end and 3% on the high end.
Email marketing – Believe it or not, most professional services firms still don’t have a regular, rhythmic email marketing program. Usually this is because they don’t want to come off as unprofessional or salesy. We get it. That makes perfect sense but at the same time, if your email marketing to clients and prospects is 100% educational in nature, your clients are going to actually look forward to getting your emails and you're going to be able introduce them to other services your firm offer through stories and examples of how you helped other clients, just like them.
Organic search engine optimization – This has historically been one of the major mystery tactics in the marketing mix. However, today we know exactly how many visitors are coming from search, what keywords they are using, what rank you have for your top keywords and how to move your firm up the rankings. While Google doesn’t tell us exactly what we need to do, we have enough knowledge to know that blogging is one of the key elements to moving up in the rankings on all major search engines.
Blogging – Speaking of blogging...Google has been very transparent regarding their desire to rank organic content like blog posts above general website links. They have also been clear that fresh content is going to rank over older, stale website pages. One of the best ways to produce fresh, original and educational content is by blogging and blogging regularly.
One last comment on blogging is related to social media. All three of the major search engines are looking for content that has been shared. The more people who share your blog posts, the more likely it is to rank. Even the search engines know that if the social networks love your content, they should be showing it in search results.
Social media marketing – Our world is forever changed by social media and we are now a connected community. Your prospects are voting with their comments, shares, follows and likes. The more socially-accepted your content, the more leads you are going to get for your business.
Today, you are able to track all aspects of social media, likes, followers, friends, connections, etc. We know exactly how much traffic is coming to our clients’ websites from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram or StumbleUpon. More importantly, you can make subtle adjustments to your marketing today and drive more traffic and leads for your business tomorrow.
Content marketing – We would be remiss if we didn’t pay homage to content marketing. It is the most important part of an inbound marketing effort because your prospects want to be smarter. They want to be knowledgeable before they call you or click through to the Contact Us page of your website. The only way to do that is to create, promote and share whitepapers, eBooks, tip guides, research, videos, slide shows, infographics, webinars, podcasts and more. While blogging helps you get found, content helps you get leads.
By the way, none of this would be possible without a sound marketing strategy to drive the specific inbound marketing tactics. This approach also appeals to most leaders of professional services firms because they are planners by nature. The better prepared you are before a trial; the more likely you are to win. The more prepared prior to an audit or business review, the better the outcome will be. Without a detailed set of plans, even the best construction materials won't result in a sound structure.
Combine marketing planning with quantifiable marketing tactics and you get an approach to marketing that matches the mindset of most professional services firms.
Start Today Tips – Perhaps the best move for people managing professional services firms is to do a brief audit of your current marketing activities. Which ones are quantifiable and how are they performing? For those that are not quantifiable, what are the real business benefits and do you need to continue them? You might find that by stopping some of your more traditional and less quantifiable tactics, it frees up some marketing dollars for inbound marketing tactics.
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