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There I sat outside of the majestic Chipotle Mexican Grill, with the breeze flowing through my hair and a mouthwatering burrito in hand. My stomach growled with anger as I got ready to take the first bite out of those spicy carnitas, gracefully wrapped around in a tortilla that’s larger than my face. Before the burrito reaches my mouth, my phone started ringing. UGH! I drop the burrito on the foil laid out in front of me and say “hello?” in a polite voice, though I’m totally pissed they interrupted the lunch I had been daydreaming about all morning.
On the other end of the phone, I hear: “Hello. Are you interested in refinancing your student loans? Blah, blah, blah,” in a robot voice. Burrito moment ruined thanks to telemarketers, yet again. This is a prime example of outbound marketing. The WORST. Interruptive, invasive, irrelevant, annoying.
Then, the brilliant HubSpot co-founder and CEO, Brian Halligan, decided no more interruptive Chipotle lunches and created the magical art of inbound marketing!
Inbound marketing is focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content that adds value at every stage of your customer's buying journey. This incredible strategy puts your message in front of the right people at the right time, resulting in more closed deals! Not sure how to get started with an inbound marketing strategy for your small business? Sit back, relax and enjoy a huge spoon full of knowledge casserole with these amazing tips below.
Identify Your Audience
The first thing you should identify when creating your inbound marketing strategy is the audience you should target. If you were a small business that sold diapers, you wouldn’t want to target retired males in their 70s, would you? That’s nonsense! Take the time to think about your product or services and who is investing in your business. These are the people you want to target and get your message in front of, so it’s important to cater your content to this particular audience.
Once you’ve identified your ideal target audience, you’ll want to break this down into more specific profiles known as “buyer personas.” According to HubSpot, buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer, based on market research and real data about your existing customers. When creating your buyer personas, you’ll want to come up with a name, then, define specific demographics, including age range, job title, gender, marital status, and more. It’s also important to identify each buyer personas’ goals and challenges to better help you cater to that persona’s needs. Last, you’ll want to actually put a face to a name by selecting a photo that best represents each buyer persona.
Creating buyer personas and catering your content to those individuals will allow your small business to attract the most valuable customers.
Develop a Content Strategy
Now that you have a basic understanding of the specific audience your small business should be targeting, it’s time to develop a content strategy. Your content strategy should consist of relevant information that your ideal target audience wants to consume. One great practice is to write blogs on a consistent basis.
You’ll first want to decide on a blogging platform. HubSpot, WordPress and Blogger are a few of several platforms you can use to seamlessly publish content online without needing to know any HTML code. Any added blog posts or changes to content through these platforms will allow those edits to go live on your website immediately (if your website is integrated within the specific platform), without having to bother your web developer.
Adding a blog to your website is a great way to make your website more dynamic and allow users to consume content that supports the “why” of your product or services. Consistently publishing blogs, that also are added to your website, helps improve search engine optimization (SEO) as well. Google rewards websites that publish new content regularly, increasing your chances of moving on up in the search engine rankings.
When getting started with blogging, there’s a few key elements you should consider:
An Attention-Grabbing Title
Your blog title is the first thing users will see, so it’s important to create a title that clearly suggests what the blog is about, is concise, keyword-rich (because the header tag is the most important for SEO), and compelling.
Well-Written Body Text
The body of your blog should be well-written and formatted in a way that’s user friendly and easy to read. It’s a good practice to use header tags and bulleted lists to break up the content into sections.
Images and Videos
According to BrainRules, when people hear information, they're likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retain 65% of the information three days later. There’s no question that pairing text with a visually-appealing graphic or video is extremely impactful and allows users who are receiving the message to actually remember the information.
It’s also a great idea to include inbound and outbound links to additional relevant blogs and pages on your website. This will be simple once you’ve created numerous blogs.
You should always include a relevant call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each published blog post. The CTA can include any relevant offer, from a downloadable eBook to a free case study. Each of these CTAs should lead visitors to a landing page with a form for the user to fill out in order to receive the offer. This is beneficial for your small business, as it allows you to collect visitor information such as name, emails, and more, which you’ll need for lead nurturing. We’ll discuss this more later on in this blog.
Build a Social Media Presence
Next, it’s absolutely crucial for small businesses to incorporate social media into their inbound marketing strategy. The sole purpose of inbound marketing is to attract valuable customers by putting your message in front of the right audience, in the right place, at the right time. Social media is an excellent way to do this! And now that blogging is (hopefully) part of your inbound marketing strategy, you can use social media as a tool to promote this content.
Sharing your blog across your social media platforms helps to heavily increase reach, especially if a user shares the post and puts your message in front of a whole new audience. It’s also a good idea to include links in some of your social posts to help give your page some variety, and blogging is a great way to incorporate this tactic.
For more tips and tricks to help you get started with a great social media content plan, click here.
When optimizing your website, it’s important to first do your keyword research. When doing this research, think like your customer and come up with a list of relevant keywords your small business should be ranking for. Avoid using industry jargon and instead, pick keywords that us amateurs would actually be searching for. For example, if you’re a car dealership, instead of using keywords like “pre-owned vehicles,” use keywords like “used cars” to increase your chances of being found on search engines.
After coming up with a list of valuable keywords, you’ll want to optimize your website by incorporating these keywords throughout your website in order to boost your small business’ SEO rankings. Below is a list of on-page optimization elements you should include in your inbound marketing strategy:
- Page title
- URL tags
- ALT texts
- Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
- Domain Info
To learn more about how to boost your search engine rankings, click here.
Capturing and Nurturing Leads
After properly optimizing your website, you should begin to see an increase in traffic. Take advantage of that new traffic by converting these leads into customers! How do you do that?
Check out the secret sauce below:
You’ll first want to decide on a specific offer you want to promote to your users. This could be anything from an eBook or consultation to a case study or downloadable guide. Once you’ve decided on an offer, create a call to action (CTA) that links to a landing page and place these CTAs at the end of any blog that’s applicable. This allows the visitor reading your blog to take the appropriate next steps in the buyer’s journey.
Forms on Landing Pages
Once the user clicks on the CTA, they should be directed to a landing page. Your landing page should include a form that gathers some information about the user, including first name, last name and email address. Consider this as some sort of trade that’s equally beneficial for both parties. Your small business receives some information about the user that’s put into your CRM and the user receives your free offer. It’s a win-win!
Thank You Pages
After the user fills out the form and hits submit, they should be taken directly to a thank you page. On this page, you should include a brief thank you message for the user filling out the form, as well as a brief overview of the offer they are receiving. You should also include an additional CTA button that allows the user to click and receive the actual offer.
Now that you have some of the user’s contact information, it’s a good idea to send an additional thank you email with the offer attached so the user can access the file at any time. Lastly, you’ll want to nurture these leads with some email drips to keep the user engaged, build trust in your brand and eventually, become a customer. It’s a good idea to offer some additional relevant information and offers in these emails. Be careful during this process, however. You don’t want to overwhelm the user’s inbox and appear “spammy.” Space it out, be authentic and have fun with it.
Make it Happen
Now that you have an understanding of how the inbound marketing strategy works, get out there and conquer the world with these awesome tips. Your small business will be booming if you properly follow these steps and be patient. Great things take time!