The Complete Beginners Guide to Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is the best way to build an engaged audience for your product or service. With all of the tools and tactics available it can be hard to figure out where to start. This guide will help you define what inbound marketing is and put a focus on tools and tactics that promote online engagement with the goal of lead generation.
What is Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is the act of attracting customers to your brand using content marketing, social media marketing, paid marketing, and SEO – using the tactics that bring the customer to you.
An important part of inbound marketing is understanding where your best customers are coming from. This can be measured using tracking tools. Setting up tracking on your inbound marketing can give you an edge on your competition, setting you up for a measurable marketing strategy.
Before getting started on your inbound marketing make sure your website is connected to Google Analytics (GA) a free tool that allows you to see how and where people are viewing your site. Here is a great guide on how to get started with Google. While it is the most widely used tracking in North America, it is not the only option, we are suggesting Google because it is a free and comprehensive tool that has everything you need when starting out.
One of the best ways to track how your marketing channels are performing is by using a code snippet at the end of your URL that counts how many visitors you get from each unique link. These links are called Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters – The name comes from the company Google purchased the tool from. This is a code that is attached to the end of a URL, the URL tells GA where the traffic came from. A UTM looks like:
When building your UTM’s you can enter in the campaigns source, campaign medium, campaign name, and campaign content. You can use Google’s free URL builder to guide you. While the content section is only suggested we highly recommend using it for items like coupon names or call to action (CTA)* text.
After you have set up your Google analytics you can find your UTM’s listed in your analytics under Acquisition > Campaigns > All Campaigns. Google will file your campaigns using your campaign source name.
*A call to action (CTA) is the text you use to tell the customer what you want them to do after they interact with your content or page. For example at the end of a Facebook post you can say “like or share this post for more updates”.
What Inbound Metrics Should You Track
At Blue/Meta we believe in measurable marketing. Measurable marketing is the process of setting up defined goals or metrics for your marketing tactics based on your overall goals. If your goal is sales, your metrics should be directly related to increasing your sales.
Ask yourself – “What is the point of this tactic?” If your goal is increased leads for your sales reps, your metrics should be:
- Revenue from leads based on channel
Other goals could include cost per acquisition (CPA) or the cost to get that new lead into your sales funnel. This metric directly correlates to your larger goal.
While there are many other metrics you can track for your marketing tactics it can be easy to get lost in the data, make sure you aren’t trying to track too much all at once.
One of the most important parts of your inbound marketing strategy is content. Content will help you get eyeballs to your product or service. Your blog or website is a hub for all of your content. Make sure your site is easy to use and search. This will help keep people on your page longer and make it more likely that they come back to your site after their first visit.
How to set up your Website for Inbound Marketing
- Make your website inviting and easy to use.
Make sure your page is easy to navigate, looks good, and has a search option. This will keep people on your page. Use tagging in blog sections to keep ideas and topics together.
- Make sure your email sign up is easy to find.
Don’t hide your email sign up on your contact page. Make sure it’s easy for your visitor to find, make it easy for them.
Don’t use jargon on your home page.
Make your home page simple and easy to understand. Having a nice design is great but if people don’t know what you do then they will leave without looking at any of your other pages. Make sure your homepage makes sense to someone who is not in your industry.
Content For Lead Generation
There are several different types of content available to help you get more leads:
- Downloadable PDF’s
- Email subscriptions
- White papers
- Direct ask (Demo, Trial)
The important part of using content to build a lead or email list is using a landing page or sign up form to gate the content.
The Landing Page
Here are a few tips to help increase conversions on your landing page.
- Always put the logo on the left hand side of the page this will improve brand recognition
- Give the visitor a clear title that explains what your product/service is and the benefit of using it
- Make your form or call to action button clear and put it before the fold*
- Outline the offer clearly to the customer by including benefits or specifications about the product or service, but keep paragraphs short and sweet
- Add social proof using testimonials or reviews
- Add a CTA button to the end of your page so the customer doesn’t have to scroll back up to the form or button when they finish your page
*the fold is the top part of your page before the browser makes a user scroll.
Staying on the topic of websites. Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important part of setting up your website. There are two types of SEO – content and technical. SEO helps your page rank on a search engine results page (SERP) like Google or Bing. For example, when you type “content marketing” into Google you get pages of results. The link you find in the first and second spot are the top results after the ads which appear with a black AD mark to the right of the link.
According to Moz, an SEO tool, 71% of people click on the first search result. Google has started to put in new measures that keep people on Google longer and lower clicks that lead to a different site. These measures are called feature snippets.
A feature snippet is a clip of information that Google pulls from a website with good SEO. While the feature snippet means less traffic for your site, a snippet is always in the first result on Google known as position zero. This is the holy grail of positions on a Google search page because once you are in position zero the amount of clicks you receive will help keep you in that spot.
Content based SEO focuses on the content on your website. Using keywords and you guessed it written content. Content SEO is evolving, it used to be all about stuffing your web page with the keywords you want your site to rank for. Google is improving its algorithm everyday and keyword stuffing is now considered a bad SEO tactic and can decrease your ranking on Google. Google is looking for search intent which is the reason behind a customers search, your article needs to be helpful to what they are looking for. The best way to rank is to write useful content for the right person.
The more you write your content to help your customer and make your content unique from your competition the better your page and site will rank.
Google wants to put the most useful information first and uses these 4 items to understand how your page should rank against your competition.
- Domain authority how well your site ranks as a whole for the topic you are covering
- Traffic user interactions on your site
- Search Tags technical on page items that help Google read your page including page title and meta description
- Back-links how many people link to your page as a resource on your topic
Social media has become such an important part of marketing it has its own dedicated position. But if you are like the many marketers who work on a smaller one to 3 person marketing team (or own your own business) then it often falls on the person handling inbound marketing to get the job done.
The most important part of social media is to know your audience and keep your posts consistent. Your engagement will improve if you keep a consistent schedule and engage with your following. Spend time in the beginning liking and commenting on their posts to get more eyes on your page.
Start with a content calendar a content calendar is simply a calendar that you use to plan out when and what you are going to post on social media.
Some content options include:
- Blog article
- Customer reviews and Testimonials
- Live Videos
- And Contest’s
If you are trying to grow your audience use account tags and hashtags to engage a wider audience. Don’t be afraid to share an article and tag the person who you got the article from. Tagging helps both accounts increase their visibility on the platform.
Research your hashtag before using it to make sure the conversation makes sense to your post. Use as many hashtags as you would like on Instagram and Twitter but be careful when using too many on Facebook and Linkedin. It is recommended that you use no more than 5 hashtags per post on Facebook and Linkedin.
There are many avenues to use when looking at paid advertising. The most common are:
- Pay per click ads
- Paid social media ads
- Affiliate ads
- Display ads
- Video ads
Each ad type has its own strategy. The most common are Google search and display ads and social media paid ads. Don’t make the mistake of using a channel because everyone else is using it. If your customer isn’t on Instagram then you shouldn’t be there either.
The importance of A/B Testing
Testing your marketing helps you understand what your customers want without the high risk of making big changes to one of your marketing campaigns. You can use testing on anything from your:
- Landing pages
- Paid ads
When testing remember to only test one thing at a time, define your testing dates, and never stop testing. If you are not testing your marketing campaigns you are creating a missed opportunity.
Once you complete all the work above to get email addresses what are you going to do with them? Email! Still considered one of the best tools, email has become widely used for all inbound strategies.
Creating an owned audience
While social media is a great (and important) channel to use in marketing it is also important to create an owned audience. An owned audience is a list of people you can connect with on a platform you own the rights to, it is a place where you have contacts that you will never lose.
When using channels like a social network you have to be careful with long term reliance as the network can change their algorithm and your posts could be buried. Site algorithm’s change and followers can be lost in less then a day if precautions are not followed.
When building an owned audience ask your customers for their email when you are interacting with them through your content offerings. Then engage with your list on a consistent basis to keep them connected.
That is everything you need to know in the beginners guide to inbound marketing. If you are looking to implement an inbound marketing campaign, Blue/Meta can help. We use innovative techniques that drive measurable lead generation. Get in touch now!
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