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For businesses to have any hope of surviving this digital-dominated climate, having a robust inbound marketing strategy is essential. Where traditional outbound marketing and PR were once the go-tos for reaching customers and increasing brand awareness, inbound marketing has taken over, becoming the preferred and most effective way to broaden reach, create and nurture leads, and strengthen customer relationships over the long term.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that outbound marketing techniques like cold-calling or paid TV spots are entirely obsolete. In fact, it’s likely your business relies on one or more outbound marketing methods to nudge prospects in the right direction. But without a well-crafted inbound marketing strategy delivering valuable content across the web, you’ll probably find it hard to drive new customers to your website or cultivate the connections you need to maximize online credibility and stand out from your competitors.
So, what separates a run-of-the-mill strategy from a successful inbound marketing campaign? With (nearly) everyone drawing from the same digital well, how do you ensure your inbound marketing efforts have the muscle to maximize your brand’s reputation, break through the noise and empower long-term growth on the web?
Here are a few general guidelines for making your inbound marketing work a little more effectively, including some inbound marketing strategies for maintaining reach and relevance in a rapidly evolving digital marketplace.
Research your target audiences
At the heart of any inbound strategy is a unique target market. This is the block of potential customers your inbound marketing and content marketing approaches must consider to be successful. And like any online marketing strategy, creating valuable content that will generate qualified leads and naturally attract inbound traffic means knowing who you’re building those blogs, articles and social-media content for.
That’s where audience research comes in.
In-depth customer interviews can be fantastic research tools for identifying similarities and common pain points among your customers. A brief, well-timed email survey can also elicit valuable details that inform your inbound marketing strategy and high-quality content creation down the line.
Add free, user-friendly services like Google Analytics and Facebook Page Insights to mix, and you can really begin to define the customer personas and common search queries needed to build compelling content and attract more quality traffic to your site.
Focus on your SEO
The only way inbound marketing works is by developing online content that addresses pain points and delivers the answers your customers are searching for. But while creating quality content and gearing it toward your target audience is crucial, those assets won’t drive much traffic or convert users if people can’t find them.
Like any digital marketing strategy, inbound marketing needs strong Google search visibility to achieve maximum impact. And sticking to a solid search engine optimization plan is the best way to get there.
A good inbound SEO strategy begins by identifying the industry keywords prospects prefer and search for regularly. SEO tools like Google Analytics, Moz, Ahrefs and SEMRush are just a few options for locating search terms that pique your customer’s interests and help optimize your content.
Once those target keywords are squared away, incorporating common-sense SEO techniques like smart keyword use, well-positioned headers, internal backlinks and supporting metadata helps ensure each new blog post and ebook has the optimized framework to get Google’s attention and climb SEO rankings pages.
Create compelling headlines
Headlines are the first inbound marketing content elements customers see in search engine results. And as the initial point of interaction between prospects and your content, they are also what compel potential buyers to go beyond the search engines and visit your website.
At this stage in the buyer’s journey, having catchy, persuasive headlines is how you maximize click rate and (begin to) generate leads across your target audience. This makes quality headline generation a pivotal part of any inbound marketing strategy.
So, how do you build headlines that consistently drive traffic and point customers to your sales funnel? Most importantly, it’s crucial to set aside the resources to do so. Clickworthy headlines are what draw customers in and begin the lead-generation process, so dedicating adequate time and effort to their creation is essential.
It’s also vital to address the target search phrase clearly and directly in each headline. This not only ensures each headline is optimized, but that it’s also aligned with searcher intent and tied to the information your potential customers seek.
A critical inbound marketing element, headlines offer an excellent opportunity to push past the noise and pull in customers very early in the buying journey.
Post relevant content on high-authority sites
Just because inbound marketing focuses on drawing customers and leads to your website doesn’t mean your efforts should focus solely on your blog page. In fact, posting quality content on high-authority blogs remains one of the best inbound marketing methods for building trust, improving brand recall and recognition, and pulling in more visitors.
A consistent guest-posting strategy provides invaluable brand exposure on established, high-traffic websites people know and trust. It also allows you to feature your brand within influential online venues and nurture customer relationships (and, by extension, leads) at key points across the web.
Additionally, the backlinking opportunities available through guest blogging create digital connections that boost your own site’s authority while providing readers even more ways to discover your site and take another step closer to the buying process.
Guest posting is one of those inbound marketing strategies with potentially enormous outreach and business growth benefits. Baking it into your inbound plan is always a smart bet.
Share that useful content with subscribers
Inbound marketing is about providing helpful content that not only provides the reader value, but also cultivates an emotional connection that benefits your sales team down the road. The right email marketing campaign helps you meet both sides of that goal, providing a powerful way to deliver free, value-rich blogs, articles, press releases and video tutorials to subscribers while continually reinforcing the user-brand relationship.
Sending subscribers useful email newsletter content, and doing so consistently, offers the opportunity to nurture and convert leads on an ongoing basis. Subscribers come to trust you for fresh, meaningful content they can really sink their teeth into.
Over time, that trust doesn’t just keep more subscribers on your email list. It helps turn once-passive readers into quality leads, prospects more likely to buy from your business after a well-timed nudge in the right direction.
Work with influencers to market your content
Partnering with influencers is a great way to hype your brand and drive more visitors to your site. With the right influencers plugging your brand across blogs, videos and social media, your business benefits from an instant jolt of credibility that’s hard to achieve through other inbound and outbound marketing efforts, creating an immediate sense of trust that nurtures leads and attracts customers across an already-cultivated niche audience.
But while influencer marketing can be a powerful addition to your inbound marketing campaign, making it work requires the right approach. Maximizing the impact of each influencer relationship means working with influencers who not only have a glut of social-media followers, but who can also influence and persuade your target customers. Careful research and nuanced relationship-building are key to connecting with influencers that compel engagement with your brand.
Go beyond the blog
Long-form blogs remain one of the most effective methods for delighting customers with value-driven content. Yet, they’re still only one piece of a much larger inbound marketing puzzle. While useful on their own, they don’t really achieve their big-picture potential until they’re working alongside the videos, podcasts, infographics and other content pieces that come together to maximize brand interaction.
Spinning high-traffic inbound marketing blogs into video tutorials, how-to infographics and social-media marketing content is a proven way to increase brand reach and engagement. And by leveraging existing articles into eye-catching, interactive vlogs and visuals, you’re creating content that nudges popular pieces beyond the blog page and into the hands of those on different legs of the buyer’s journey.
Of course, repurposing blogs isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach and should be done only after conducting extensive research on the types of content your target persona actually enjoys. Still, thinking outside the blog and ideating new ways to utilize existing posts can provide a valuable boost to your inbound marketing strategy.