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An Inbound Marketing Guide for Busy Business Owners (2017 UPDATE)

Jan 20, 2017
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If you’re like most business owners, you probably are filling more than one crucial role within
 your organization. At times you're the sales manager and/or sales rep. Other times you're dealing with vendors. Then you find yourself functioning as an account and some days you're the janitor. Despite wearing all these hats at once, you still have to find time to grow your business and look for new opportunities.


Because of this overload, many businesses put their marketing efforts on the back burner to take care of the most pressing needs at that time. But when time is limited, it’s more important to devote it to the activities that will yield the biggest return. In this article, we will take a look at how you can add the effectiveness of inbound marketing to your business, without adding a lot more to your already jam-packed schedule. 

Ultimately the best thing to help your small business really grow is to have a complete inbound marketing strategy with all the pieces working together in sync. To see the best results and continued growth over time, inbound has proven to be powerful. While Inbound has many moving parts, it's not all that complicated. At its core, inbound marketing and sales are about answering the questions and pain points your target audience has. With so many channels available to businesses nowadays, it can be overwhelming. But the key is to get started and expand your strategy as you can.

One of the best ways to get started is by breaking down your strategy into phases. Each of the phases will build off each other. Similar to compounding interest, as you grow and add to your efforts, you will see in return.

The phases discussed below are the very basics and address only parts of a full inbound marketing strategy. Nevertheless, they are the critical steps that every business owner should focus on and use. While you do need to invest some of your time to create this strategy, remember, marketing your business is crucial for the continued growth and the development of your company.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is about attracting visitors to your business instead of interrupting them with your messages via direct mail, commercials or other traditional forms of advertising. Inbound marketing earns the attention of your prospects using messaging that speaks directly to their needs. Then the organic nurturing process helps convert them into customers!

In an ideal world you would be able to be active in all areas of your marketing, but for most businesses owner, any marketing at all is a plus. You may not be able to do it all, but you can do something. As discussed above, breaking it down into manageable phases will help you get results. The four phases are; Content Creation, Optimization, Promotion and Review & Improve.

Phase 1: Create Content That Adds Value

Start by brainstorming a few content ideas you can offer on your website to your buyer persona. (Not sure what a buyer persona is? Check this out.) This content needs to be geared towards your target client and should be centered around a need or solution to a problem they are having.

Some common content offer types:

  • eBooks
  • Webinars
  • White papers
  • Case studies
  • Explainer Videos
  • Workbooks

The possibilities are endless, but these are a few great jumping off points. Anything that your buyer persona sees as adding value to them should be your main focus!

Phase 2: Optimize!

After you have created a few pieces of awesome content, it’s time to optimize your website in 3 areas. On-Page SEO, Usability, Conversions & Lead Generation.

On-Page SEO: Ensuring your site is optimized for search is the key to being found online. On-page SEO is the foundation to creating search marketing that lasts. We’ve created a complete checklist of on-page SEO tasks that you can download and follow to make sure your site is optimized for search. 

Usability: Having a site that is optimized for your users is a must. Make sure you have clear navigation to help your users as they explore your website. Also, don’t try to do everything on each page. Have a focused strategy for each page and focus the content around one subject. Remember: Your website is not for you, it’s for your users!

Conversions & Lead Generation: The last step in this phase is optimizing your website for conversions and lead generation. Remember that awesome content you created? If you want people to engage with it, this step is key!

  • Add Calls-to-Action above the fold on your website:  Calls-to-Action help your users know what the next step is. Whether it's a blog post, social post or thank you page, use calls-to-action to direct them. Make sure they are easy to see and understand.
  • Create clean, focused landing pages: Each landing page should have one purpose. Your users should not have to search to find what that purpose is. Simple designs and easy to read text will lead to higher conversion rates. 
  • Make the next steps clear after a prospect engages: After someone connects with you, make sure you set clear expectations. Don't leave them guessing the next step, tell them. Use your thank you page and follow up emails to set the right expectations. 

Phase 3: Promotion

Welcome to the toughest part… hope the last few phases weren’t too difficult. Traffic generation and promotion are often where many small businesses give up. But if you can push through this phase, you will reap huge benefits. Three areas of promotion we are going to look at are Local SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media Marketing.

Local SEO: Developing a strong local presence is often key for most small business owners. Claim your local directory listings on sites like Yelp, Google Business and Manta. Add your address, phone number, some pictures and website URL. There are some great tools out there that are free and can help you out a ton. Check them out in this post we wrote: 3 Free Tools To Help You Develop An Awesome Local SEO Strategy.

Content Marketing: Do you have a blog? If not, it’s time to get one and start blogging. Don’t just take my word for it, check out these stats as proof. Write about topics that your potential customers will see as valuable. Make sure that you optimize each post for the search engines. We recommend you post at least once a month but the more frequently you post the more potential you have for engagement.

Social Media Marketing: It’s time to get your message out and there is no faster way to accomplish this than using social media. Scheduling your posts will make your life much easier. We recommend Hootsuite. It’s free, and it’s awesome! For each blog post, schedule a variety of posts on your social media accounts. Don’t overshare. Find a good balance. You don’t want to annoy your prospects.

Phase 4: Review and Improve

Once you are successfully implementing the previous phase, it’s time to start setting up the review process to go through everything you're doing to try and improve. If you haven’t done so already, set up a Google Analytics account to track your visits and conversions. I would recommend starting quarterly or every other month and as you have more time, move to monthly or bi-weekly reviews.

Review and Improve: Knowing what's working and what's not will save you time and money. This is why reviewing what you've done and the impact it has had is so important. Here are some general questions to answer while reviewing your metrics:

  • How are visitors finding our website?
  • Are these visitors converting into leads?
  • Which calls-to-action are receiving high click-through rate and which ones are not?
  • How can we improve our calls to action, landing pages and content offers to try and increase conversion rates?

By using these four phases you can start connecting with your audience right where they are by adding value to their lives. Getting started is often the hardest part, but once you get your strategy going you'll find it easier. If you are looking for other helpful tips and information to get you started with inbound marketing and sales check out our knowledge center. It's full of free resources for you to download and use to grow your business. We know you’re busy, but schedule some time to add inbound marketing to your small business plan. Your message deserves to be heard!

Going For Gold ; Inbound Marketing


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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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