Remember the episode of Seinfeld where George decides to do “the opposite”?
George: “No, no, no, wait a minute, I always have tuna on toast. Nothing’s ever worked out for me with tuna on toast. I want the complete opposite of on toast. Chicken salad, on rye, untoasted … and a cup of tea.”
Well, think of Inbound Marketing as doing “the opposite”. Instead of finding prospects, they find you. Instead of disrupting them, you engage them. Instead of selling them, you inform them. Here’s the five pillars of Inbound Marketing to help you ATTRACT, CONVERT, and KEEP more customers and grow your business:
Inbound Marketing means your website needs to be a magnet for traffic, leads, and prospects.
In order to attract visitors you need to give them value. Value doesn’t mean talking about your great company, product, or service; or even the latest sale, contest, or promo. Value is giving people something of worth.
If you’re a spa, maybe it’s giving people relaxation tips in a weekly blog. If you’re an auto-dealership, maybe it’s giving people a series of videos on how to change their car’s tires, oil, or headlights. If you’re a financial planner, maybe it’s giving people an eBook on planning for their retirement.
Your content marketing must have value. Whether it’s a blog, article, video, newsletter, white paper, eBook, podcast: always aim for value by informing, educating, entertaining, or just making people’s lives easier. If you build it (valuable content), they will come!
2. Social Media
Once you have valuable content, you have to share it.
Ask yourself, where are the people who would get the most value from my content? Where are the most likely places for the prospects for my business to be? Is it Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Twitter?
Perhaps industry forums, communities, or third party blogs? Test different social sites and platforms to help find your audience and focus on the ones that “work”. Ditch the ones that don’t work.
Remember when it comes to entering any social community you want to listen first. What are people asking about? What are their pain points? What problem can you help them solve? Hopefully you’ll get some great ideas for creating content.
Engage your audience through Social Media and establish trust not by selling, but by giving value. That’s how you grow your social media profile, that’s how you’ll get more interest in your business, that’s how you do Inbound Marketing.
3. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
If you’re creating great content, and it’s being shared, posted, and Tweeted across the social media world, there’s an added benefit: better SEO.
Search engines love content, especially “fresh” content, and extra especially content that people engage with.
Google sees content that is shared, commented on, and (especially) linked-to as signs of “value”. Search engines reward value with better rankings for keywords related to your business’ website.
And to help with your SEO Inbound Marketing, consider tactics such as submitting your content (or website) to relevant directories, creating an RSS feed, guest blogging, forum posting, social bookmarking, video or image sharing, or answering people’s questions on Yahoo or LinkedIn. All of these activities will help create inbound links to your site, and thus inbound traffic to your business.
Email is often the forgotten pillar of Inbound Marketing.
A lot of people consider it a “push” medium, because you’re pushing your marketing on people, as opposed to “pulling” them in.
Your email subscribers have agreed to give you their name and email address because in exchange they believe they’re getting something of value (there’s that word again). You’re job is simply to deliver it.
Email is a great way to promote valuable content. You can use it just like social media to share your company’s latest blog, eBook, white paper, webinar, or training video. And the great thing about email is that you can measure the value of your content with open rates, click-through rates, and landing page sign-ups, downloads, and, ultimately, sales.
5. Website Optimization
If email is the forgotten pillar of Inbound Marketing, Website Optimization is the unknown pillar.
It’s one thing to get inbound traffic to your website, but it’s not very effective marketing if you can’t convert visitors into customers. That’s where Website Optimization comes in.
Website Optimization, also known as Conversion Rate Optimization (or CRO), means conducting experiments on your website to increase “conversions”. A conversion could be any action you want a user to take when they arrive on your site: a form completion, a free-trial sign-up, a download, a purchase, or even a Retweet.
A typical experiment would drive half of the visitors to a “control page”, and the other half to an “experiment page”, where the latter could have a different headline, price, navigation, contact form, or “buy now” button colour. The goal is to test which elements work best in terms of maximizing conversion goals.
The “inbound” part of Inbound Marketing simply means to attract traffic, but Website Optimization helps with the conversion part so you can “market” to them. That’s Inbound Marketing.
Now it’s time for that cup of tea 🙂