The internet has forever changed the way we do business. We can now buy whatever we want from wherever we want whenever we want. What used to be a company-centric economy has now become a customer-centric economy. Buyers are better informed about products and services than ever before, and this helps shape their purchasing decisions. This holds true whether they are buying a new coffeemaker, a new car or a newly-constructed building.

 So, it is only logical that we need to shift the way we market to adjust to the new sales environment.

Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and your services, where they naturally want to be—to learn more and to become better informed buyers. Naturally, your company's website plays a key role in how prospects and clients interact with your company.

By aligning the content you publish across the internet with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.

Inbound_Marketing_Graphic_LR.jpgBelow, I have outlined the seven marketing components that will help turn complete strangers into leads, and ultimately, into well-informed customers.

1. Your Website
The core of your marketing program, your website should be more than an online brochure—it should be a lead-generating machine. It should be dynamic and interactive. Your website should serve as your best salesperson—working 24/7, never taking a holiday or calling out sick. Your website should be responsive; it should have the ability to be viewed and navigated across a wide range of devices (mobile, tablet, laptop, etc.) More than 50% of web visitors access the internet via mobile device, so if you want to capture leads, you must have a responsive website.

Apart from design, branding, color, functionality and clear navigation, a well-executed website should contain:
• Dynamic, relevant content (a blog, video, infographics, newsletters, white papers, how-tos and other offerings)
• Calls-to-action (CTAs) and landing pages
• Forms for gathering lead data
• Forms for RSS (Really Simple Syndication) subscription to a blog and/or newsletter
• Keywords built in to your website’s copy

2. A Blog
There are several reasons you should publish a blog:
• It helps drive traffic to your website (think: keywords)
• It helps convert that traffic into leads
• It helps establish authority
• It produces long-term results
• It helps you understand your audience’s needs
• It encourages interaction
• It provides enough space to tell a story

According to Hubspot, the leading inbound marketing software platform, businesses that regularly blog receive 55% more web traffic and 70% more leads than businesses that do not.

3. Landing Pages
The purpose of a landing page is to encourage the visitor to complete a form (lead data) in exchange for the offer (an ebook, how-to, checklist, infographic) as described on the landing page. This should be an even exchange of information. If you are expecting a visitor to provide you with their personal information, you must provide information that will be relevant to them.

A landing page should contain:
• A photo or graphic of the offer
• A brief description of the offer (bulleted copy works well in this case)
• A form (don’t ask for too much information)
• Use the ABCs: Attract attention with compelling copy; sell the Benefits of the offer; and Close with a call-to-action asking the visitor to complete the form
• Less is more (don’t make them scroll)

4. Email Program
Think of this as your online newsletter. Emailing allows you to regularly communicate with your leads and customers. You should send one email newsletter per month to help interact and to build relationships with your leads and customers. Email newsletters should be summaries of recent content you created (with links back to your website), and should include at least one CTA.

Pay careful attention to the subject line:
• Avoid sales or overused words
• Include localization
• Use different subject lines
• Keep subject lines short
• Tone down promotional emails and self-proclamations
• Subject lines framed as questions often perform better

TIP: Segment your email list. Spend a little time in your CRM to segment your lists by buyer persona, industry, lead type or whatever makes sense for your business. By tailoring your emails to the appropriate audience, you will have a higher success rate.

5. Social Media
Social media attracts attention and encourages readers to share your content across their social networks. It is an effective tool for directing readers to your website. You need only look at the numbers to know that having a presence on social media is essential in today's customer-centric economy.

• 18 million people worldwide use social media
• 67% of Americans use social media
• 58% of Americans using social media use Facebook
• 75 million Americans check their social media channels several times a day

6. Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic and increase awareness in search engines. SEO involves a complicated set of on-page and off-page variables.

One of the easier forms of on-page SEO are keywords. Keywords are the search terms entered into a search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo!) in an effort to find specific information. People use keywords everyday, whether they are searching for a specific product or service, or just browsing to conduct personal research.

"Long-tail searches" are used to produce better results than using just one keyword. For example, a search for “construction” will result in millions of page results, while a search for “construction medical office Wisconsin Dells” results in a much smaller, and specific, number of page results. The majority of searches performed are long-tail searches.

Anticipating what keywords a prospect will use to attempt to find your business, your products or your services, gives you insight into the content you should publish. In its simplest form, if you want search engines to list your website on the first page of the search results for a given set of keywords, your site must contain those keywords. Google offers a tool to help you determine the strength of specific keywords: https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner. To learn more about SEO, I suggest visiting www.moz.com. Moz is the ultimate resource for all things SEO.

7. Analytics
On of the many benefits of inbound marketing is the ability to track real-time performance. Here are several metrics you should be measuring:

• Bounce rate
• Blog post views
• CTA click-thrus
• Landing page conversions
• Email click-thrus
• Social media reach
• Traffic sources
• Alignment with goals

Google Analytics is implemented with “page tags,” aka a tracking code—a snippet of JavaScript code that you add to every page of your website. The tracking code runs in the client browser when the client browses the page, collecting visitor data and sending it to a Google data collection server. You can view this data on your Google Analytics dashboard. Visit google.com/analytics to set up and track your website's performance. 


REMEMBER: This may seem like a lot to take on all at once…and it is. The point is, that the seven components operate something like a socket set. Think of the website as the socket wrench and the remaining six components as the sockets themselves. Although you can use the sockets individually, you won't get very far. By combining the wrench and the sockets, the job becomes easier, faster and much more effective.

The eBook below contains more information about this topic.

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