Inbound marketing has proven itself to be very effective in terms of helping small to enterprise-level brands reach business-related goals.
This marketing process involves a series of data-driven key initiatives. But the one key component that makes any form of marketing campaign actionable and successful is making certain that every action is goal-oriented.
Aligning methods/tactics to the business’ targets is crucial from start to end. Because this assures that every initiative will have impact (whether it’s big or small) to the business’ long-term goals – and this is the bottom line of what we’re doing.
It’s imperative to have a deeper grasp of what your client or your own business aims to achieve, as this makes it easier to determine which marketing channels to tap and take advantage of.
There are several online marketing practices that are within the inbound marketing realm, and there are also ton of ways to make certain that each approach will be result-driven.
Will this action help us achieve our goals?
Keyword Research, Content Strategy & Consumer Insights
The best way to optimize for searchers and search engines is to be able to provide the information (in great detail and presentation) that your target audience are specifically searching for.
As I’ve mentioned on one of my recent blog posts (on how I win in search and content marketing), it all boils down to understanding what your target audience wants, needs and obviously seek for.
And again, goal setting plays a big role in SEO as well as in building a solid content strategy. Determine how your content will contribute to your organization and consider them as brand assets that can help:
- Build authority and strengthen brand presence.
- Generate leads and/or close sales.
- Nurture potential customers and retain existing customers.
Start with FAQs. Because this is what your target market will continuously search for. Focus your content strategy on topic areas that have greater demand and likeliness to convert readers.
People search for answers. And it’s our job to make it easier for them to find the solutions.
There are many ways to identify and understand what a business’ target consumers may need in terms of information:
- Getting more search query and content ideas by using keyword research tools.
- Using Consumer Surveys to get actual insights from your target audience.
- Studying popular communities (forums, social groups, blogs) in your industry and taking note of the most commonly discussed topics.
- Using social listening tools, like Topsy, to gather topic ideas that are shareable and have strong social traction.
Integrating consumer insights with your SEO and content marketing will allow you to drive more targeted traffic to your site.
Another advantage is that it’ll be easier to tailor your content assets’ CTAs and special offerings based on what your target consumers need and will most likely convert to.
For more extensive tips on this area, you can also check Heidi Cohen’s checklist for content planning.
Establishing your brand as an authority or expert in your field can heavily influence how people interact with your brand – which often leads to better search visibility (since Google favour brands) and better conversions.
Aside from helping improve brand equity, being an authority may also have an indirect, but positive impact on a brand’s market and mind share.
That’s why investing on building a strong online brand presence is very important these days, as it can be an unfair advantage for a business competing for online-driven customers.
So what are the steps that companies can take to build themselves as an authority in their online space?
Being consistent in pushing out – not just great content – but content that will certainly be useful and compelling to your audience is the most fundamental step to becoming an authority on the web.
I’ve mentioned this as well on a post I’ve written few weeks ago – that the other key to winning in content marketing is to know the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors’ content campaigns.
As these insights will help you build a robust content strategy, which are based on your competitors’ flaws and efficiencies.
Focus on USP
Aim to become a top player in a niche in your industry. Because it will be easier to expand and target a wider audience once you’ve already proven your brand to be an authority.
Getting more coverage for your content and press mentions for your brand (through online/offline activations) will also be a lot easier if your unique value proposition stands out from the rest of your competition.
Strategic content partnerships
Build relationships and establish partnerships with other known publications in your industry. Identify sites where your target audience are, and make your brand more visible on these channels through:
- Actively participating on their communities’ discussions (blogs, forums, etc…).
- Regularly contributing content to absorb more readers back to your site (guest columns).
- Inviting their authors to contribute content to your site as well.
These partnerships can be a powerful asset that can constantly bring more targeted traffic to your site, and improve social proof (that can build trust and brand perception). Think Distilled and Moz.
Identify industry influencers that you want your brand to be associated with (use Followerwonk). Then build alliances to improve or semi-automate your content distribution – and to attract more social shares and followers as well.
For instance, if you look at Link Club, it’s a group that’s comprised of thought-leaders in the SEO industry who specialize in link building. Each individual is helping out each other to get their own personal brands out in the open.
This type of partnership/content collaboration is definitely beneficial to everyone who’s part of the alliance (which can help in terms of branding, lead generation and in discovering more business opportunities).
Email marketing and list building
The more you’re driving targeted traffic to your site through search and authority building (via content, strategic partnerships, link development, social media, etc…), the more it will be important for your organization to have a stronger grip of your continuously growing audience.
And this is where email marketing comes in. Since this is a channel that you have full control of. A robust email list can give your business the capacity to draw visitors (who’re already aware of who you are) whenever you need it, which also have higher chances of converting.
The key to building a strong email list starts with building the right traffic to your site, because they have the reasons to sign-up – which will make it easier for you to grow your list.
Kristi Hines recently wrote an exceptional post on how to effectively build an e-mail list. The post breaks down the most important aspects of list building, which includes:
- Placing opt-in forms in high-traffic areas of the site
- Integrating your mailing list with other platforms.
- Offering specials to subscribers
Other email marketing resources that you might also want to check out:
- Increase conversion rate for your blog with this free review template
- 7 awesome tactics for skyrocketing conversions from your email marketing
- 18 tips for improving subscriber quality
Analytics – measure, analyse and improve
Understanding the data and results of your inbound marketing efforts is very important, as this gives you insights on how you can scale and how you can make your campaign more efficient.
Data simply guides your campaigns’ actions and it allows you to discover more opportunities that you might haven’t optimized your site for yet.
Several metrics that you should be taking a closer look at in Google Analytics, which can help improve your overall marketing initiatives:
- Top content assets with high engagement rate and conversions (Content > Site Content > Landing Pages).
- Top traffic sources – including each source’s engagement rate (avg. visit duration, % new visits and bounce rates) and conversion data.
- Top conversion paths (Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Top Conversion Paths) – to determine which areas of your campaign are driving more conversions to the site.
Once you have measured your campaign’s results and have analysed your data, you can then come up with the necessary actions to further improve your results from a conversion standpoint.
Some samples of areas that you can analyze and then optimize through Analytics’ data are:
- Assisted conversions – which can help you know which sites are sending you traffic with high conversions, and take advantage of them (ex. contributing more content to them to get more traffic or building 2nd-tier links to linking pages sending high volume of traffic/conversions).
- Identifying most effective channels – for instance, if your SEO efforts are driving more targeted traffic and conversions (basing if your site has already increased its ranking power), you can create more landing pages that can target other industry terms and long-tail keywords.Same approach may also apply with content and social, where you can create more content assets based on your campaign’s past successful/failed assets (and on which channels they have been effective in terms of promotion).
Determine which methods are working and are able to bring you results. Do more of them.