Although Houston web design is our priority at Launch Tower — It’s increasingly clear that integrating your company’s web design with a robust inbound marketing strategy is imperative for your company’s survival. Launching your inbound marketing is a lot like kicking off a military campaign (… at least my campaigns in Risk and Civilization V). You want to be prepared, and you need to adapt to the facts on the ground.
I know you’re not going to war, but if you want to conquer your target audience, there are a few things you need to do. inbound doesn’t happen overnight, and there will always be more you can do. If you make the investment, you’ll find it was worth the effort. Launch Tower wants to help you get started.
Here are your first steps to launching your inbound marketing offensive:
1. KNOW YOUR CAPABILITIES
Launching an inbound offensive without knowing who you are is like going to war without figuring out what weapons you have and how big your army is. If you do this, you’re going to get slaughtered. You can’t plan an effective attack without knowing what resources are at your disposal.
Going inbound means that you’ll be producing content. If you want to get people to read your content, you have to convince them that you’re the expert on the topic you’ll be writing about. You’ll never convince anyone else that you’re an expert until you convince yourself.
BECOMING AN EXPERT…
Every expert has to study and keep up with industry trends. Chances are, establishing your expertise will require you to hit the books. However, studying someone else’s work will never make you the expert, because you’ll always be second best.
To establish your expertise, you have to leverage your strengths and combine what you learn with what you already know. Adding value to your content is what will establish your expertise in your field. Dorie Clark, a marketing, branding and business strategy expert, puts it this way, “To understand what’s so special about you, you have to compete on your playing field, not someone else’s.”
Think about how you can bring a new perspective to your industry. Your unique ideas can cater to an industry niche, so don’t try to compete with the industry giants on day one. Once you’ve conquered your little corner of the market, you’ll be better prepared, and you can start to think bigger. You’ll also gain new skills. As you grow, you can expand your niche and go after a broader market.
DEVELOPING YOUR RESOURCES…
Knowing your capabilities also means taking advantage of the resources you’ve accumulated over the years. This includes your list of prospects and customers. Take a look at this list and analyze where your customers are in the buyer’s journey. If certain customers fit your target buyer persona, grow your capabilities to meet their demands.
Look at your past interactions with customers (website traffic, social media engagement, purchased products/services, etc…). Determine what was successful and build on this content and these skills.
Developing your resources also means leveraging your organization’s staff to produce content. if you’re a small company, you’re probably going to be writing and sharing most of your own content. If you’re a larger company, begin to think about who would be a good fit and what teams you can create to start producing valuable content quickly.
You also might want to think about content you already have that’s waiting to go online. If you’ve been in business a long time, you likely have pictures, literature, brochures, and even emails that answered your customers’ questions.
Inbound marketing is a relatively new concept, but Inbound’s core is in responding to customers needs. People have been responding to other people’s needs since the dawn of time. If your business wasn’t responding to people’s needs, you would have gone out of business long ago. Leverage your offline content, and use it to expand your digital capabilities.
2. KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER
Just like you wouldn’t go to battle without knowing about your capabilities, you wouldn’t go after an enemy you know nothing about. OK, so your customers aren’t the enemy (at least I hope not), but they’re certainly a type of conquest. You won’t conquer your target market unless you know who they are, and what jobs they have that need to get done.
The first step is to identify your target audience. Ask yourself who benefits from your products or services the most.
Take stock of your current customer base. Who’s providing the best ROI? Which customers are encouraging you to expand your capabilities? Start there, and identify how your customers are responding, based on hard facts like contract length and their purchase record. Use this information as a baseline for setting future goals.
EFFECTIVE BUYER PERSONAS
Now it’s time to identify the buyer personas you’re going to target. Buyer personas are a description of the type of person to whom you’re marketing. Buyer personas should provide a full picture of the customer, including a description of what they need and how you can help them.
Make sure you do this right, because poor buyer personas can ruin your marketing efforts. Focus on how you can respond to your customer’s pain points, questions and concerns. This reveals the job you can do for your customers.
Collecting information on your customer’s background, demographics and psychographics is all great, but you have to translate this information into something usable. The goal is to find out how you can best help your customers, and any other information you collect is just a proxy to help you understand the answer to this vital question.
KEYWORDS ARE KEY
You have a wealth of direct information about your customer’s pain points at your fingertips. I’m talking about keywords.
Monitoring the keywords that your target audience is searching tells you about the questions they have. Start creating content that answers their questions, and develop a keyword list to help you create relevant content.
Here’s how you make a keyword list:
- Find 3-5 words you think are important to your audience. Then use keyword tools to understand how often people search these terms.As you search, keep track of the keywords you find. Come up with a list of 200 or 300 specific keywords that are likely important to your customers.
- The next step is to analyze the results to figure out which terms are best for your company to focus on. Score each term on relevance to your customers and on the number of searches. Your most important keywords are the ones that are highly relevant to your customers and are highly searched.
- Your research is most useful when you simplify it, so make a list of 5 most important individual words and about 30 search terms. Incorporate these words and terms in page titles, URLs, meta data, and in the text of your content.
When you incorporate keywords into your strategy, you respond to your customers’ concerns and help them find your content.
3. DEVELOP A PLAN OF ATTACK
Now that you’ve taken stock of yourself and your target audience, it’s time to develop your offensive strategy. Your plan should detail how to engage your audience, how to lead them through your funnel and how to convert them to paid customers.
You’re not Alexander the Great, so your battle plan doesn’t have to be earth-shattering. Start with the low hanging fruit. Identify your strengths and weaknesses.
You might need to drive traffic to your site with engaging content. Maybe you have content, but nobody’s looking at it. Maybe you just need to get your traffic to convert at a higher rate. Once you have all of this figured out, it shouldn’t be too hard to shore up your weak areas and capitalize on your strengths.
SET S.M.A.R.T. GOALS
Another part of your battle plan is to set goals. Without goals, you’ll never know how well you’re doing. Meeting your marketing goals is how you should judge the success of your efforts. Goal setting also helps you separate what’s working from what’s not, because it gives you a measuring stick.
If you’re not sure how to set effective goals, the popular yet effective SMART goals framework should help. Your goals should be:
- Specific — Specify numeric goals, because you’ll notice when you’re not living up to them.
- Measurable — Your goals should be tied to a metric that you know how to measure, so you can keep a pulse on your progress.
- Attainable — While pie in the sky goals are useless, but make sure you are stretching your capabilities to keep your marketing effective.
- Realistic — Knowing your capabilities takes time, but if you keep setting goals, you’ll eventually understand what’s realistic.
- Time-bound — Set a deadline date. Tomorrow never comes.
Don’t forget that your goals should be aligned with your business objectives, and they should respond to the jobs your customers want done.
Again you won’t actually attack your customers, but you want to carry through on your plan to conquer your market. Your actions need to woo your customers, and offer them the things they want.
Going after your audience should begin by following through on your plan of attack. Start by taking action on that low hanging fruit we talked about. There are strengths you haven’t capitalized on yet, and weak areas where you can implement some easy fixes. To borrow a phrase from Nike and Shia LaBeouf, “Just do it.”
Next start going after those benchmarks you identified in goal-setting. Just monitoring your data isn’t enough. You need to put some effort into reaching your goals. Develop content. Get active on social media. Come up with a list of keywords that people are searching for and that you have a realistic chance of ranking on. Fortunately, you won’t be expending this effort blindly. You’ll see the progress as you push towards your goals, and this will motivate you to work harder.
When going after your target audience, you should work smarter not harder. Integrating all of your content marketing tools is extremely helpful. If you could track all your metrics, develop your content and manage your social media in one spot, why wouldn’t you? Great tools are available, and you’ll thank yourself for taking advantage of them.
Effective marketing is a lot of work, and stuff is changing every day. Like anything, you’ll get out of it what you put into it, so if you’re going inbound, do it right. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
5. ASSESS THE DAMAGE AND REGROUP
No successful military campaign just keeps following their battle plan, without considering what’s actually happening in real time. You can’t ignore what’s going on around you. You need to be aware of your surroundings, so you can adjust your efforts and make sure they’re effective.
Look at what’s actually getting you traffic to your site, or which pages are converting leads into customers. Create more of this content. If one of your strategies isn’t working, either change the way you are approaching that strategy or maybe just focus on the stuff that is working. I can’t tell you exactly what to do, but pay attention, and roll with the punches.
Inbound is about facilitating the buying process with your audience. Customers react badly when you push your products and services down their throats. Inbound isn’t pushy, but it’s not passive either.While you can’t hold your leads hostage, you shouldn’t just let them walk away.
Constantly evaluate your strategy and find the gaps, where you’re giving up too easily on turning viewers into leads and leads into customers.
While moving to a Inbound Marketing strategy, your website and blog need to be optimized. Otherwise, no one will find the content you are creating.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
- Make sure your H1/H2 Tags are optimized at the top of your website.
- Make room for Calls to Action (CTAs) in the appropriate locations.
- Promote your content by featuring high performing keywords from the list you’ve developed.
- Make your content viewable on smartphones, tablets and desktops.
Responsive web design and content is extremely important. This matters to your users and it matters to search engines as well.