An Inbound Marketing Guide for Busy Business Owners

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Many business owners these days hold more than one crucial role within an organization. On any given day a CEO may function as a sales manager and/or sales rep, vet a vendor, and then also function as the janitor. On other days business owners shift from the head of human resources to accountant in the same staff meeting. Despite wearing all these hats at once, the demand to find time to grow a business and look for new opportunities with qualified leads never ends.

Because so many business owners function on job title overload, the instinct is often to set their marketing efforts on the back burner and take care of the most pressing needs. When you consider the big picture, this instinct can actually harm your business. Rose Kennedy said, “More business is lost every year through neglect than through any other cause.” We couldn’t agree more.

But with limited time, it’s more important to focus on efforts that will yield the biggest return. In this article, we will take a look at how business owners can leverage inbound marketing in a way that doesn’t neglect their marketing opportunities and still allows plenty of calendar space each day.

Ultimately the best thing to help your business 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.

Consider these stats from invesp:

  • Globally, 41% of marketers confirm inbound produces measurable ROI, and 82% of marketers who blog see positive ROI for their inbound marketing.
  • Properly executed inbound marketing is 10x more effective for lead conversion than outbound
  • Inbound practices produce 54% more leads than traditional outbound practices.
  • 79% of companies that have a blog report a positive ROI for inbound marketing

While inbound has many moving parts, it’s not all that complicated. At its core, inbound marketing and sales are about answering your target audience’s questions and pain points. With so many social channels available to businesses nowadays, it can be overwhelming. Not to mention email marketing, blogging, and so on, but the key is to get started with one or two strategies and expand your reach 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 a return on each investment.

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 development of your company. This is time well spent.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on attracting visitors to your business with helpful and educational content 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 business owners, any marketing is a plus. You may not be able to do everything, but you can do some things. As discussed above, breaking down your strategy 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.) Write your content for your ideal client and center it around solving a problem or providing a need.

Some common content offer types include:

  • 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: Optimization

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 for 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. You don’t need to do every single thing on each page. Have a specific strategy for each page and target 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‚Ķ hope the last few phases weren’t too difficult. Traffic generation and promotion are often where many business owners 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 Google Business and Manta. For Local SEO it’s vital to set up a Google My Business Listing. 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. Statista reports 47% of internet users read blogs daily which is pretty awesome considering the billions of people who use the internet Globally. Point Visible reports 9x more leads are generated using long-form blog posts as compared to other forms of marketing.

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 easy to use. 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 a review process to go through everything part of your strategy. Once you see what you have accomplished you can adjust to try to improve. If you haven’t done so already, set up a Google Analytics account to track your visits and conversions. We recommend checking quarterly or every other month to start. 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 rates 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!

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on January 20, 2017, and has been updated for accuracy and freshness. 

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