Since 2006, inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for acquiring customers online. Inbound marketing is promoting a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, newsletters, whitepapers, SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing which serve to attract customers. However, winning customers through the Internet can be a daunting task. There are many details to consider, and each marketing channel’s strategy can get complicated in a hurry. The purpose of this article is to introduce top-level ideas on how to think about your inbound marketing strategy. Let’s dive in.
Your website is a digital storefront and an extension of your brand. If going on site design, which site would a prospective customer choose in your local market? In the recent study “Trust and mistrust of online health sites” participants were directed to health-related sites via relevant search queries. At the end, they were asked to discuss their first impressions of the sites they had just visited. Shockingly, of the different reasons mentioned for mistrusting a website, 94% were design related. Having a high-quality website can be an extreme competitive advantage, especially in local markets. Before balking at the price of a new site, consider how many new customers it would take to recoup your initial investment, and how many more you could win with that new design.
Determine Your Goals
What are the goals of your website? Is it to obtain new leads? Is it to give current customers store hours, to give educational materials, or increase the lifetime value of a current customer? Hopefully, it does all of these things to some capacity, and in an efficient manner. Think what makes most sense for business strategy.
Now that you have your goals, you can understand how to market to your website visitors. Essentially, you must know who your customers are, how they get to your site, what they want from your site, and how they want it presented. Match their intent and align goals and your site will lead to compelling results.
Understand Buying Phases
There are three types of website visitors who could be a potential customer: 1) Visitors with a need but don’t know it. 2) Visitors who are comparison-shopping. 3) Visitors who are ready to purchase. Inbound marketing is particularly fruitful in types 2 and 3. Build your site around their needs and you will see a positive change in interaction and sales.
Make sure your website is easy to use and navigate. If you make claims, back them up. Make sure you include enough information to solve the potential customer’s problem. Trust symbols go far, and include modern website design, industry affiliations, years of experience, addresses and phone numbers, and customer recommendations.
Expand Your Storefront
Once you have established your digital storefront, consider how customers interact with other channels. Align your storefront with multiple customer touch points. This means quality design that matches your brand across other inbound channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google +, local directories, phonebook ads, e-mail, and more.
Collect Data and Measure Results
There are many tools that allow you to gauge the success of your inbound marketing efforts. Google Analytics is free and particularly robust for insights. Any good website administrator should be able to implement its tracking capabilities. Collect data in a way that allows you to iterate on your marketing efforts.
It takes time to really see results from initial efforts. Also, remember that these channels are unique and always changing. As an example, Google weighs over 200 different factors for a search query. What worked last year doesn’t necessarily mean it will work this year. Don’t be afraid to iterate on your strategy when new opportunities come along.