Flexible inbound marketing: 7 key elements
Successful inbound marketing is so powerful because it’s the prospect that does the prospecting. Visitors to a website or landing page have come there for a reason, using a search term which potentially means that they have an interest in what your business has to offer.
These seven routes will successfully help them on their way and open the doors to your business...
1. Designing websites for inbound traffic
Let’s start at the destination of the visitor’s journey, because the corporate website should act as the communications hub for your business. The website’s structure, design, content and ease of navigation play vital roles in attracting inbound marketing traffic.
Content is the primary ingredient in the mix, which is why inbound marketing is frequently known as content marketing. This however can tend to blur the picture, because however good the content may be, it will lose its potential within a poorly constructed website architecture.
It’s increasingly apparent that search engines are becoming ever more adept at identifying content relating to specific search terms. This has boosted the importance of landing pages and the home page may not now necessarily be the first port of call for the visitor. One of the offshoots of this is the need to display clear calls to action (CTAs) and contact details on all website sections.
2. Planning for mobile search
The dramatic rise in mobile use has led equally dramatic changing patterns of behaviour. Mobiles let people decide when they want to search for information and in what circumstances.
They may have all the time in the world or just be snatching a quick moment and need to find what they’re looking for fast.
Searches on smartphones may be made during the morning commute, on desktop PCs during the working day and tablets back home in the evening. Responsive website design is the ideal way for most businesses to present themselves on the internet, giving equal priority to the full range of mobile and desktop devices. Well designed responsive websites definitely give businesses a competitive edge.
Figaro Digital recently highlighted a global survey of millennials (consumers aged 18 to 36) which showed that they were broadly unconcerned about which channel they used and expected to engage with a brand anytime and anywhere they chose. The survey showed that they touched their smartphones 43 times a day and that 30% touched more than four devices in 24 hours.
Using measurement tools such as Google Analytics can provide a range of stats and demographic information on response to inbound marketing messages, as well as when they were viewed and on what devices. The capabilities this provides for adapting and scheduling messages is invaluable and emphasises the need for flexibility. We find the Google dashboard “start analysing your site’s traffic in 3 steps” provides some of the information needed to help in decision making, although a lot of further analysis is still required.
3. Producing content to engage and motivate
In our website article “Designing Content for Inbound Marketing” we quoted from Microsoft’s Guidance on Relational Presentation in the context of content creation – all you need to do is to replace “a performance” with “content” to have a pretty good description of what good content is all about.
“Being willing to spontaneously adjust a performance to the interests, backgrounds, and understandings of viewers helps you establish a relationship, a connection with them. That relationship is everything. It enables conversational interaction, which, in turn, builds trust.”
The much repeated advice from many specialists about “the more good on-site content you produce the better” can be misleading because it emphasises quantity rather than quality. It is no longer a prerequisite of success in organic SEO since Google algorithms are now more tuned in to the engagement value of content rather than the bulk of material produced. By all means include blogs and white papers if they truly add value, but there is such a thing as information overload!
Content that will engage and motivate needs to be geared to target audience interests, content that answers questions, entertains, fascinates and supports the learning process about your business in the areas that would interest customers. Text, images, videos and presentations can all contribute to this process. Google also favours content authorship with good reason, because people like to engage with people. Once duly motivated, progress should be encouraged with a clear call to action.
4. Devising SEO to attract and direct
A look around the Latest News section of the BBI Brandboost website will show that we have written more articles that relate to SEO than any other single topic. This is not surprising since SEO has to be at the heart of inbound marketing strategies and hard wired into content creation. No matter how good the content of a corporate website may be, if it can’t be easily found through search then the business will suffer.
Pay per click ads are a good method to gain immediate prominence on search pages but we recommend that it should be accompanied by organic SEO, because ranking achieved in this way carries a powerful mark of editorial approval. A recent post in MarketingProfs shows how websites can be penalised for publishing low quality content.
However, looking at this from a positive angle, those sites that achieve high ranking organically have shown their quality in informing and engaging the user. The more stringent Google algorithms become in downgrading inferior websites, the better those high ranked websites will be perceived. It is also worth mentioning the technical aspects that can improve page ranking, such responsive design offering fast page download times.
5. Selecting social media that means business
Social networks provide the opportunity for businesses to engage with potential targets on a personal level. This interaction can be a terrific asset to business and sometimes even negative comments can be useful in identifying shortfalls in product or service performance that can be rectified.
It is important to regularly monitor and contribute to social media, which takes time and commitment. This means selecting the best networks for your business so as not to spread yourself too thinly. In our website article “What does the public say about business” we cited a recent large global survey showing that of 1 billion global mentions of 200,000 companies, a significant majority (67%) came on Twitter.
This shows the exceptional potential of this social network for broad business interaction, while LinkedIn Groups and Google+ Communities can both offer good opportunities for more targeted business engagement. Each individual business has its own characteristics and priorities ranging from engaging with clearly identifiable B2B sectors to communicating to wider B2C markets. The variety of social networking channels gives tremendous scope for businesses to engage and by doing so create inbound marketing traffic and improve their SEO positioning.
6. Using email marketing to bring focus
Email marketing can bring a high degree of focus into inbound marketing strategies, integrating well with activities on social networks and traditional media channels. Emails are simple and effective, which is why this tried and tested marketing approach has survived and thrived.
Programmes and messages can be accurately tailored through testing and measurement. Using high quality opt-in databases, defined by regions, demographics, industry sectors or other criteria, provides audiences that are already potential targets for a business offer. Updating, cleansing and honouring unsubscribe requests further refines and upgrades the list of decision makers being contacted.
The flexibility of emails makes them ideal messaging vehicles for mobiles and links created to websites, landing pages and social media sites provides for an accurately definable flow of inbound traffic. They are very useful components to employ in successful integrated marketing strategies.
7. Developing media and PR communications support
Almost by default, the proactive production of high quality search optimised web content and well-informed, newsworthy and well-presented online marketing material will lead to PR opportunities and potential inclusion in online media channels. Content can be repurposed for the media, with different angles put on messages and stories to suit the audiences of the news, consumer, business, professional or technical media being approached.
The third party editorial value of the established press and broadcast media can be exceptionally powerful in enhancing business reputation and public awareness. The opportunities for promoting spokespeople for their expertise and opinions works exceptionally well both as a standalone PR benefit or in conjunction with personalised contributions for the web and social media. PR and media communications can both focus and expand the inbound marketing effort and can be invaluable in their versatility and impact.
Because of the increasing accuracy and speed with which responses to inbound marketing can be measured and analysed, there are opportunities to capitalise on findings with immediacy- to strike while the iron’s hot! This requires a degree of flexibility within the marketing plan, perhaps to focus on creating extra impact on a social network, or to respond to a request for an opinion forming article or case study on a media channel.
BBI Brandboost’s newly launched Brandboost Value Credits offer precisely that kind of flexibility. Equally valuable for SMEs that need access to a full range of marketing resources on limited budgets or for larger operations that wish to inject a flexible element into existing marketing programmes, Brandboost Value Credits offer both flexibility and cashflow benefits to satisfy a range of marketing needs and budgets.
Brandboost Value Credits provide businesses with the opportunity to bank our expertise in different inbound marketing activities for when they need it and to insure against unforeseen opportunities and challenges. For cost-effectively planning and executing each of the seven key inbound marketing elements with balance and precision, they are the ideal solution.