If you already work with a PR firm or are considering launching a media campaign, then you have probably heard of the term “inbound marketing.”
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is about empowering potential customers with the information they need to help find your business online. Your goal should be to create focused content that will help solve your prospect’s problem. Think about it. When you made your last purchase, did you call a salesperson asking to buy or did you hop online and conduct thorough research? Chances are, you did thorough research, but when you did research, you didn’t type in a company’s name (because you don’t know the names yet). You were Googling the problem you had. When your prospect searches for their problem, your company needs to be on page one so that the buyer sees it as a solution.
Tip: Imagine yourself as a potential customer of your own business. Go to Google and search the problem as if you were your own customer. Does your company show up on the first page on or near the top? Positioning your business on or near the top of a Google is one of the main goals of inbound marketing.
How do you get started with inbound marketing?
Figure out your buyer persona. Who are they? What information is most valuable to your prospects? How do they like to consume information? Once you have determined who your buyer persona is, you can then focus on creating keyword-rich content to reach them. If you are still wondering, “How can I engage my current customer base more?” you can always ask current clients some of these questions. Their answers can prove to be invaluable in the upfront research. Remember, your job is to deliver information that prospects need to help them make smart, informed purchase decisions. When thinking about the motives of buyer personas, focus on the ‘why.’ Uncovering their motives can lead to a powerful content strategy. Try interviewing current clients and look for trends in their responses. It’s your job to know what they want to see, what they want to read, and what issues they are currently dealing with.
Tip: Here’s a trick to see if your most current blog posts are hitting your buyer persona(s). Search Google for the last five blog posts your company has created. Now search for five of your most ideal clients online (go to their websites and poke around). Do you think these types of ideal clients would actually take the time to sit and read these five blog posts from your company? Are you really providing solutions or just repeating the same old brand stories? Put the education of your prospect first.
With inbound marketing, your customers don’t want to be “sold” to. They want to be educated. It is your job to “talk” them from the decision stage to a solution strategy. Your content should focus on a methodical approach to learning more about your company, buying your products and/or service and then using them. So, make certain you have content prepared for every part of your buyer’s journey.
Tip: When it comes to inbound marketing strategies, your job is to make it easy for current customers and potential buyers to consume your content.
Keyword research is critical to clearly giving a name to the prospect’s problem. Remember, think about the phrases that prospects are using to find someone who offers your services, instead of thinking about what you would use. Try not to use too much industry jargon either.
CTA (Call to Action)
Every blog post should also have a call-to-action, or CTA. Examples of calls to action include: download, request, sign up, and receive. When writing your CTA, focus on action verbs.
Awareness, Consideration, Decision
After a prospect is aware of their problem, they are in the consideration stage and are committed to understanding all available methods to solving the problem. You want to make sure you reach your prospect in the consideration stage by creating keyword-rich content. Remember, consumers don’t want to be sold to; they want to be educated. Once they are in the decision stage and have decided on a solution strategy, they are focused on the method of approach. It is important to have content prepared for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Tip: After you write or approve any content, ask yourself this: Does this content help your ideal buyer persona(s)? Your content should always focus on mapping content to your persona and where they are at in the buyers’ journey.
Avoid Inbound Marketing Mistakes
- The buyers journey has to be from the buyers’ perspective, not yours.
- Your content needs to answer their problems vs. going straight to your business solution.
- Your blog shouldn’t even begin to discuss your specific solution until the decision stage.
Content Creation Tips
Understand their problem: In order to provide a solution to potential customers, you need to first recognize the problem. Ask yourself, is your content focused on their problem?
Tailor the post: Write blog posts tailored to who you are trying to reach and what they are interested in. The best content has to be grounded in the correct context.
Question the post: After you write content, ask yourself if the content helps your buyer persona. If your answer is that it helps anyone other then your persona, it belongs somewhere else or shouldn’t be created. Always focus on mapping content to your persona and where they are at in the buyers’ journey. Make it easy for them to consume your content. Another trick: If you are stuck creating content, ask yourself this: What questions might buyer X have that your company could provide solutions to?
Distribute content: Make your content available through other platforms so prospects can find it more easily. It’s not enough to just have content. You need others to re-distribute it.
Leverage sales for content mapping: What questions do people have who are interested in what you do? Work with the sales team to leverage prospects’ questions into great content! Figure out what your prospects are searching for so you can make sure they find your site. Make sure you are addressing a topic your prospects actually want to learn about.
Categorize keywords: Do this by stages of the buyer’s journeys. Keywords should include: problem-based keywords, solution keywords, branded keywords, and casual language. Use keywods.io or Google’s webmaster tool to get suggestions.
Tips for Optimizing SEO
To optimize your content, you need to be specific with your service offerings or else SEO will be more difficult. It is easier to rank if your keywords are more specific and targeted. If you are looking to quickly boost your SEO, be sure to set up business pages on the top online directories including Yelp, Yellow Pages, local chambers of commerce, bing, Yahoo, Google plus, and more. This will help increase links back to your site.
- Create content that uses natural language and variations on the long tail keyword.
- Shorten blog or content titles to under 60 characters. Headlines more than 60 characters long will get cut off in search results page.
- White space is your friend. Focus on content, not clutter. Use section headers, bullets and lists to help break down the content.
- Optimize the page around long tail keywords, including your page title, URL, post title, image alt text, body and headers.
It’s also important to measure the success of your content strategies. Focus on the following metrics and start a monthly “content measurement” report:
- Number of page views and visits per blog or other content posting including time spent (if possible)
- Leads generated from specific blogs/content posts
- Social media share numbers
- Inbound link generation analytics
Kris Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a Public Relations and Social Media Agency. Kris Ruby is a frequent on air TV contributor and speaks on social media, tech trends and crisis communications. For more information, visit www.rubymediagroup.com or www.krisruby.com