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You may have heard of the phrase “inbound marketing” before. You may not be sure what it means. If that’s the case, you missed my blog last week that defines and outlines what inbound marketing is, and why it’s so valuable. Go check it out!
So, Inbound Marketing encompasses SEO, Social Media, Content and Email Marketing. Whoosh. It’s a big umbrella that covers so many distinct topics.
If you’re just getting into marketing, and you’ve heard inbound marketing is the royal road to more customers, then you heard right.
If you read the above, or my previous post, and broke out in a cold sweat, that’s ok too.
It’s a lot to take in.
This week, I want to give you a step-by-step roadmap to what you can do to set up an inbound marketing strategy, rein in all those different elements, and make sure all your work is pulling together toward one aim: more customers.
Inbound marketing methods come in many forms, yes, but they follow the same broad approach across every touchpoint. This immediately makes it easier.
Whether it’s action, romance, superheroes or indie drama, all films follow a three-act structure.
Similarly, no matter whether it’s SEO, Social Media, Content or Email, there are eight steps you should follow in strategizing your inbound marketing efforts.
Before you think it, “Everyone” isn’t a target audience. If you fire an arrow, sure, it goes forwards. But the target isn’t ‘everywhere’, it’s a specific point.
In archery, the more accurate you are, the more points you get. The same goes with marketing. The more accurate you are, the more customers you’ll get.
Look at your product. Think about who it is for. Who will it help. Now think about the details of their lives. What motivates them? What gets them up in the morning? Why will the product help?
Put yourself in their position. Think about how much money they make, their relationships, their aspirations.
All this will be invaluable in marketing to them down the line.
Now you have a target demographic and user persona. You know who you’re aiming at, which will inform every aspect of what you do next.
There are two things that will motivate people to buy. Reason is one. Emotion is the other. You need to use both where they’re most effective.
There’s only one answer to that:
In the 21st century, pain has shifted from its evolutionary roots. It used to be that fire would relieve the pain of cold, food the pain of hunger, shelter the pain of the exposure.
We have those needs pretty well covered. Now, the pain of inconvenience is one thing. The pain of things taking too long. The pain of complexity. The pain of imperfection. Of limitation.
These are the modern pains.
What pains do your audience endure?
How does your product help remove those pains? Once you understand that, you can structure your approach to inbound marketing across any touchpoint. This is the key to unlocking the ‘sales’ element.
Now you’ll get some ideas on what type of content you need to create to address specific problems faced by your target audience.
Creating a website that has comprehensive resources to help people find solutions is one thing. It’s a good thing, even!
But even better is to go to where people are already looking.
Go and find out what sites your target audience uses to find the solutions they need. Some people will ask around on Facebook. For others, Google will be their first port of call.
But go deeper – what do they find when people respond?
StackExchange is a programming hub where programmers ask all sort of coding problems. Quora is a popular site where people go to get just about any questions answered.
There are hundreds of niche forums available online for specialist interests. LinkedIn is better for professionals looking for service recommendations.
You need to know where people are already looking so you can offer your solution in a place people will find it.
By doing this research, you just identified your ‘channels of approach’ and can now diversify your strategy in a targeted way.
For anyone who follows this blog, this one will feel at least a little familiar.
In SEO, Keywords are the words and phrases people use when they search for things.
By mirroring this language back in the content you create, you target your content at the people looking for it. So how do you do that?
Well, you have to identify what keywords they use when Googling. You have to know if they create questions on Quora, or browse existing questions.
Then how are those questions composed?
On forums, are there specific threads, or even sub-forums? What are the titles? Do people speak publicly about these needs or do they communicate primarily through private message.
By deepening the research you started during point three, you will develop a set of targeted keywords for inclusion in your future marketing. You’ll also gain a better understanding of the best methods of engagement, and create a to-do-list for yourself.
Before you go barging in with your product as the solution to all your audience’s problems, you need to consider that this will almost certainly be unwelcome, putting off potential customers instead of engaging them.
Remember the wide umbrella we talked about at the beginning? Well now it’s your toolbox.
You’ve identified who your audience is, and how your product can be the solution to their problem.
Now, you’ve researched how people find their answers, you can use the appropriate models to create them.
These include blog posts, in-depth articles, videos, emails, e-books, and more.
By maximizing the variety of your content, you stand the highest chance of attracting customers who prefer different types of content.
By being consistent in your delivery, you’ll begin to develop an audience that will trust you. This trust cannot be underestimated in the modern economy.
Make sure all this content is geared toward your audience and their problems.
You now have a suite of blog posts, videos, infographics and even webinars ready to go, all by using research to make sure this content is relevant to your audience.
Now it’s time to get mechanical. This part is all about getting your content and voices heard.
Implement your SEO strategy based on what you’ve discovered, and you’ll rank your content highly to be found by people typing the right question in search engines.
This is how you start down the road to becoming an authority within niche communities. Mix around and be known.
Start answering questions, participate in discussions to demonstrate your expertise in the field. Syndicate your blogs to their forums to provide readers a detailed answer.
Look at Facebook groups, Twitter and Instagram influencers, even the traditional press and media. Promote your content to them. If it has real value, it will get shared.
More people will discover your product.
You will now be developing links and getting traffic to your websites from strategic places that will benefit you most, together with targeted exposure to audiences that are most likely to want what you’re offering.
Once you have backlinks and SEO established for your high quality, targeted content, you’ll soon have no shortage of visitors. The difference between a visitor and a lead is how much visitors know, like, and trust you.
This is where you have to establish a relationship to your audience.
You do this by satisfying their needs. Provide useful answers, empower them, and nurture them. Offer them exclusive tips, tricks and techniques. Give them in-depth studies in form of e-books.
Maybe even let them try your product for free to demonstrate how well it works (and how much you trust them to see the difference). If you do any of this, you’ll be converting a disengaged audience member into an engaged potential customer.
Offer them value in exchange to get them enlisted as your email subscriber.
A series of leads and email subscribers you can reach out to whenever you want to. People who respect and trust you, and accept your authority.
Leads are the ones in your audience with a strong interest in your offering. Leads are people who have habitually taken an action to engage with your content.
Leads are your potential customers, and they are the evangelists who will spread by word of mouth the quality and value of your product or contents.
As such, these are your prime targets. They will be the best possible return on your investment of time and energy.
That time and energy is much better spent identifying them than it is in blanket marketing at anyone and everyone.
Marketing your products to them through email is a fine balance. You mustn’t annoy them by being too salesy or overbearing.
Strike the balance between exclusive content that does them a favour, and advertising which is asks them to do you a favour. This is known as the ‘thank you’ economy. Indebt people to you with gratitude, then demonstrate how they can repay you.
Paying customers and brand advocates to take your business to the next level. The payoff for all the efforts that have brought you to this point.
If you were wondering how to do inbound marketing, wonder no longer.
This is how.
While a whole blog post could be written on every one of these points, what I’ve attempted to do here is show you the ladder that leads to the diving board that leads to Scrooge McDuck’s pool full of money.
And speaking of money, inbound marketing has its place. Specifically, it’s for those who have time to invest instead of money, which is the case for most startup and SMEs.
Throwing money on ads works. But they works as long as you keep spending. The second you stop, it disappears.
Time works too. And time works long after its been invested. Content lives forever. Evergreen content attracts new users for as long as it’s out there to be found. A one-time effort that can result in continuous sales.
So, if you want to subscribe to customers, go for paid marketing. If you want customers to subscribe to you? Inbound Marketing is your solution. And now you know exactly how to do it.
Be sure to grab the ebook below to learn the secrets of a great inbound marketer!
Updated: 19 September 2017