Five Steps to Creating an Effective Inbound Marketing Strategy

Friday, 21 January 2022

Five Steps to Creating an Effective Inbound Marketing Strategy

So, here you are. You’ve taken over the marketing portfolio for your company. You’re looking at the company’s website and no one’s reading it, no one’s backlinking to it, no one’s commenting on the blog. You know you can do better than this. But where do you start?

With this blog post, that’s where. We’re going to walk you through the 5 steps to content-marketing success. But before we do that, let’s define what we mean by digital content marketing, or inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing relies on attracting leads to your company website, or another relevant destination, using content for which those people are already searching — or which you know, based on the understanding of your market, that they will want to consume once they become aware of it. Once they’re on your site, your goal is to turn the audience you’ve built into customers.

The opposite of inbound marketing, is traditional outbound activity — for instance, sending potential customers an email shot or a direct mail piece. In the past, inbound marketing relied mainly on search engines for discovery. But it’s now also tied up heavily with social and native advertising as additional discovery methods.

1. Define success

What do you want to achieve? If the answer is to get more visitors to your website, stop. Why do you want that? What are you going to do with the visitors when you have them? Your content marketing plan should be designed to help you meet at least one of the goals in your company’s business plan.

Only by having a clear idea of what you want your content to do for your business, do you have any chance of success.

2. Put the building blocks in place

What are the essential building blocks for content-marketing success? First, get buy in from your internal stakeholders. If your content team is going to build the right audience, they’ll need the co-operation of all the important actors inside your company.

Next, look at your website. It should be search optimised, responsive (designed to work across all possible devices), and provide a good user experience (UX). UX is too big a topic to cover here, but a good way to think of it is, at every point your site should anticipate what the user wants to do next and make it easy for them to accomplish it.

Make sure you have the right team in place. You’ll need a content strategist, someone who understands your audience and your brand, and can plan content that brings the former to the latter — and then moves your leads along the sales pipeline. If you have a website, you should already have a graphic designer who specialises in digital work, and a web developer. If you don’t, you’ll need these too — not necessarily on the company payroll, but certainly in your little black book.

Finally, you need to get your back end sorted out, if you’ll pardon our saying so. How are you going to identify and track your visitors? At very least, you should be able to track visitors from their point of acquisition to their initial landing page and their final exit. You should also be able identify repeat visitors. You may, in addition, choose to use a tracking pixel to get a picture of users’ behaviour across the web. This gives you more detailed insights, but comes with increased complexity.

3. Identify your audience

You’ve defined your goals. You’ve got your team (or your freelancers, or your agency) in place. Your website is in good shape. Next, you need to identify your audience. How you do this, depends on your specific business model and goals. It could be as simple as saying, ‘people who want to buy hot tubs’, or you may decide to segment your audience and target your content at the demographic which shows the best combination of high conversion rates and the maximum customer lifetime value.

4. Create, publish, and promote

The next step, is to start creating content. The most common type of content is the blog post. But you don’t need to restrict yourself to it. You could create videos (which tend to get much higher rates of user engagement), infographics, case studies, e-books and whitepapers. Which type of content you choose in any given case, depends on your goals and on the audience. Whitepapers and e-books, for instance, are great tools for lead generation.

Once you’ve published your content, you need to make sure people can find it. In the first instance, this means effective search-engine optimisation (SEO). How SEO works has changed a lot in the last few years. Backlinks, for instance, are no longer as important as they used to be, while other factors, for instance the quality and relevance of your content and your site’s mobile performance, are much more important. Using out-of-date SEO isn’t just ineffective, it will actively hurt your search ranking and may even attract a Google penalty.

As well as making it easy for customers to find your content in search engines, you should also promote it using social media. For each audience, choose the appropriate social media channels. For example, if your focus is B2B, you may choose to concentrate on LinkedIn and Twitter while ignoring Facebook altogether.

Ensure that you understand how your audience uses each social channel, what it expects there, and how to most effectively communicate with it. For each social channel, have a consistent tone of voice and brand personality. Aim to drive users to your content hub, where you will be able to engage with them outside of the social-media walled garden.

5. Track, analyse, optimise

We’ve already covered the need for a robust back end to track visitors. For many businesses, Google Analytics alone will be enough. Some may wish to connect their content-marketing efforts to their customer-relationship management (CRM) software. The advantage of this, is that when you manage to capture a lead’s details — for instance, when that person gives you their contact information in exchange for downloading a free e-book —  you can then match a named individual to that person’s activity on your website and social channels. This allows you to, for instance, target that person with a personalised promotion once their activity on your site indicates that they have reached the purchase stage.

And this actionability is the key to tracking and optimising your inbound-marketing activity. It’s no use simply tracking flow metrics such as page views, visitor numbers, or bounce rates, if you’re not going to do something with that information and if what you do doesn’t contribute to meeting the business target you set at the start of this process.

As you track and analyse, you should spot patterns that tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Which social channels have high engagement rates? Which content has the best dwell times? Which audiences are most engaged, have the highest conversation rates, and bring in the most value. This information will help you optimise and target your content and your activity to maximise your returns — a process that can, theoretically, continue indefinitely.

Why is content marketing effective?

"Content marketing is effective because it is tailored to the modern consumer: a self-educating, online consumer who demands real, relevant and valuable communication as opposed to the old-fashioned, superficial 30-second commercial.

Content puts the customer’s problems, needs, dreams and desires at the heart of the communication; and that is not only the best way to do marketing today, it is really the only way - if you want to drive solid, long-term business results.

Content marketing and native advertising work well together, because native advertising complements search and social strategies to help find and attract a relevant audience, even when it’s hard to rank on the first page of Google for the keywords you’re targeting. Paid content distribution (a.k.a. native advertising) should be a core part of any content marketing strategy as it is the only guaranteed way to reach a specific audience in a systematic manner," Jesper Laursen, CEO, Native Advertising Institute.

Further reading: How to use content marketing to position you brand

WLM.DIGITAL has worked with a range of brands, including household names, to help them succeed at social and inbound marketing. If you want to improve your brand’s digital content marketing, GET IN TOUCH TODAY.

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