A proven strategy to convert Strangers to Promoters
In this article, I will introduce you to the magical world of Inbound Marketing. Everything you need to know about it and an example technique that we use for our own website here.
Origins: The concept of Inbound Marketing was first laid out by Seth Godin in his book ‘Permission Marketing’ released in the year 1999. In 2005, Brian Halligan of Hubspot coined the term Inbound Marketing. These two terms have been used for this type of marketing since but Inbound Marketing has become a lot more popular. The idea is that salesmen and the business owners ‘earn their way in’ as opposed to ‘beg or bug their way in’. The latter is also known as the ‘interruption marketing’ or outbound marketing.
So, here’s the thing …
Internet Marketing has quickly drifted away from it’s traditional shady self (for the better). You no longer see those keyword stuffed pages written by robots when you search for a query. Instead, what you see is an array of pages with quality content. Content that other people searching for the same query loved and shared. Creating such content with an intent of ‘attracting’ visitors is the key to ‘earning your way in’. Online presence makes it much easier as you don’t have to do it in person. Instead, the content you’ve created (be it blog post, video or audio) does the talking.
In this article, I will be discussing Inbound Marketing in details, why it is more important than ever for your business to adopt this strategy and a few ways how you can use it to expand your business & rank higher in Google.
[bctt tweet=”Why it is more important than ever for your business to adopt Inbound Marketing strategy.”]
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound Marketing is a marketing strategy that emphasises attracting prospects to your site by the means of useful content like info graphics, DIY Tutorials, calculation tools, newsletters, ebooks, podcasts or product reviews.
I bet you noticed…
… all of these items have one thing in common; each one of them provides the reader with information they were looking for in one way or the other. Generally, the more effort you put into it, the more you will get in return.
Inbound Marketing also saves you from making those uncomfortable and awkward cold calls. If the information you have provided is extremely useful, your readers will share it with their friends, work colleagues and family. Such organic shares and word of mouth works way better (statistically speaking) than those annoying phone calls you get from the telemarketers.
How do I implement an Inbound Marketing Strategy?
There are a few different methods you can use to implement this Marketing Strategy. In this article I will discuss the one we use and recommend at Oziti.
Example Technique: Attraction Nodes
We use attraction nodes to attract our visitors. the concept is quite simple, present your visitor with the information they are after and then try to convert those visitors into your customers.
[bctt tweet=”Find out how the Attraction nodes work. #InboundMarketing”]
The process can be visualised as a funnel, not all your visitors will convert and there will be some dropoffs along the way.
Here’s the process:
1. Create attraction nodes / ATTRACT
Inbound Marketing is all about building an audience organically. Your audience will trust your brand if it is done right. To do this, it is of utmost importance that you show your visitors prospects that you know your stuff. Now you can create several pages that read something like this:
… which nobody finds even mildly interesting or….
you can write an extremely informative blog where instead of claiming or announcing your expertise, you show it.
A blog is a non intrusive way of showing your prospects that you know your stuff. You can post articles about the industry updates, how to tutorials, your reviews of the primary products (work tools) you use in your daily work or if you are good with graphics, create a visual representation of some very boring data relevant to your industry.
We call these articles / tutorials / infographics /podcasts / ebooks / enewsletters – the attraction nodes. Nodes that attract traffic to your website.
In general, the more useful information you have on your website, the greater your chances of getting found. If you enjoy writing, a blog also gives you an opportunity to explore and write about a wide range of your industry related keywords (we no longer use that term) subjects. This works out great for the visitor as he gets the information he is after and for you as now you have more ways of people being able to find you on the Search Engines. If people find your article useful, they might link back to you and the chances of that link coming from a highly related page are pretty good. Not a bad deal for an informative article.
[toggle title=”i. Follow the content guidelines”]
Follow the guidelines
Here are some of the general guidelines from Google itself on writing the copy for your website. Create the content that people would want to bookmark and share. Content that answers your visitor’s questions and is worthy of reading. The general rule of thumb is to post content that your audience understands, and does not have a single sentence that makes a false statement.
The latter is very important to have authenticity. Informative pages with authority are much appreciated by your visitors and they show you their love by sharing those pages on the social media and linking back to your site.
[toggle title=”ii. Optimise for sharing”]
Optimise for sharing
Social media shares are quite an important part of this strategy as public likes, +1s and tweets are seen as a vote of confidence towards a web page. Place some easy to access share buttons on your attraction node to make it as easy as possible for someone to share the content. If you have an infographic or a video give your visitors an embed code to make it easier for them to share it.
I often explain the influence of social shares and incoming links to the clients by metaphorically explaining the rise of a bubble in a sea. A small bubble will rise much faster to the surface if some other air bubbles merge into it and hence accelerate it’s rise. The size of the bubble can be related to the authority. On the contrary, if your content is generic and does not provide the user with any added value, your pages will sink to the bed like a stone.
Sometimes, the bounce rate for the attraction nodes can be pretty high but there are ways to improve that (will discuss this in a different article).
[toggle title=”iii. Be Consistent”]
Consistency of publishing your content is very important, especially if you are a new website. Google likes fresh content and even better – if that content is produced at a regular frequency. Consistency also applies to the tone of your content and the views expressed in them. This is something that you need to be careful if you plan on using a copywriter’s services or if you are contemplating hiring a new copywriter.
[toggle title=”iv. Build Authority and be Relevant”]
Build Authority and be Relevant
Authority and relevance: Every search starts with a question in your visitor’s mind. An in-depth analysis of the situation or a thorough explanation is of way more value to your visitor and eventually Search Engines. How do Search Engines know it? Well, it’s pretty straightforward, if a user goes back to the search engines after coming to your page, it’s an indication that the information you provided wasn’t good enough.
Worded slightly differently…
You did not manage to answer your visitor’s question.
Bear in mind that Google wants it’s users’ queries answered with the least amount of searches and clicks. When your nodes are regularly answering your visitor’s questions (relevance) you will earn backlinks and shares which will build your authority.
A website with high authority has statistically got a better chance of ranking higher in the Search Engines. You can see this for yourself by installing mozbar and performing a search for your keyword.
[toggle title=”v. Show passion and consistency”]
Show passion and consistency
It is important to show a certain level of enthusiasm or passion in your copy. If you are passionate about your subject, you automatically get more ideas on producing some valuable content. Keep this passion alive for a few months and watch your competition getting defeated right in front of your eyes.
[toggle title=”vi. Use an appropriate tone”]
Use an appropriate tone
If appropriate, it is also advised to write your article in first person singular instead of first person plurals like ‘we’ & ‘us’. It allows you to connect with your users and provides you with an opportunity that allows people to relate to your business. It is something that the big businesses can not do (generally speaking) in so you might as well use it in your advantage.
You can read more on improving the quality of your content here.
Now that we have established the basic foundations of the first step which focusses on creating quality, authoritative content that will get people to your site, and building trust, it is important to convert those unknown visitors into clients. The first step of this conversion begins by encouraging them to engage with you. This engagement can be in the form of offering a free download in exchange of their e-mail, getting them to comment on your articles or having a chat option (be careful with this one). The engagement can also take place outside of your domain name, social media, forums and review websites are some very good examples.
If you are a medium sized company and have a huge clientbase, you can also make use of the CRMs to automate your work flow and keep a consistency in the way you communicate and follow up.
[toggle title=”i. Not Enough Time”]
i. Not Enough Time
It is a common complaint of the small business owners. Not enough time is an issue and I get it because I know what it is like when you know that your own company’s work comes last. An easy way to solve this problem is by hiring a copywriter.
[toggle title=”ii. I can’t think of what to write about”]
I can’t think of what to write about
Here’s another hurdle that some business owners come across. They do not know what to write about and very often I have come across company blogs where all you see is what happened in the office last Christmas, New Year or Jerry’s birthday.
Here’s the bad news..
… your prospects don’t give a swimming duck about any of the above mentioned posts. Your blog should talk about what you do in your profession and show your expertise in the industry you work in.
If you are having difficulty writing posts related to your industry, check out this post by copyblogger that discusses some great ways to brainstorm for blog post topics.
2. Capture the leads and CONVERT
So we have got our visitors attracted, they love our content, our very obvious next move is to place a lead capturing element on our attraction node. Lead capturing element refers to forms and CTAs.
It is important to position a relevant CTA (call to action) or a form for anyone interested in your service / product. A CTA usually leads to a landing page with a form on it but it can be a quick popup if your visitors are in a rush. It depends on what your demographic prefers and in order to find out we can perform some split testing on your pages. Generally speaking, shorter forms and straightforward CTAs work the best but it’s best to see for yourself by testing.
3. Engage with your leads and CLOSE
Now that all the hard work is done, it’s just a matter of converting your prospects into customers. As this process is a funnel, you are going to get some drop offs at this stage too but don’t worry too much about it unless the drop off rate higher is than average for your industry.
There are a few tools you can use to help automate this process. CRM and e-mail marketing tools like aweber are a few of them. We use Slack, the app for our internal communication during this process hence I have included that tool. Highly recommended.
E-mails are very important at this stage. An automated follow up e-mail to check with a user if he encountered any problem during a failed checkout can be highly efficient.
4. Over deliver, satisfy and DELIGHT
Many businesses including your competition would stop at stage 3 after getting their payment but good businesses dare to take it one step further. This step sets your company aside from the rest of your competition.
Maintain an email list of your clients and do not take them for granted. If there are any issues, address them as soon as possible. Engage with your clients frequently (if appropriate) to see if everything is OK with the product or service you delivered.
The objective of this step is to delight your clients in order to confirm a word of mouth referrer, a positive review or satisfaction in general. If your clients are happy with your services, they will also share your service pages and quite possibly bring you some more work.
So, there we have it, the four stages of Inbound Marketing explained.
Inbound Marketing is all about creating exceptional content that people would like to share. We, for instance consider our blog the epicentre of our marketing strategy.
Each node has got the potential to create a ripple on social media and get people talking about the brand, build trust from the Search Engines and earn natural backlinks.
Inbound Marketing might sound like ‘easier said than done’ if you are new to the search marketing and there are some prospects who ask why do this when my friend’s SEO company does not ask them to do the same. We see it as the future of digital marketing.
Prospects love this permission based marketing as opposed to the traditional ‘interruption marketing’. No doubt it requires more time and effort but the vendor – client relations are generally quite good.
Also, Google’s crackdown on negative, ‘quick and dirty’ SEO has made it a very obvious choice and there are a lot of businesses out there who have learnt this lesson the hard way. Search Marketing is no longer as easy as simply outsourcing your link building to a company located in a country you’ve never heard of before, placing some keywords in your html and reaping rewards. You have to have a thorough knowledge of the area of your practice in order to dominate your competition.
I hope you enjoyed this article on Inbound Marketing. In future, I will be exploring other permission marketing techniques like infographics, video content and podcasts on our blog. Be sure to visit our blog to see more articles like this.