Being a startup today is a bit like being a juggler: There are so many things that you need to be doing that it can all feel a bit overwhelming at times. Often as a business owner you could be simultaneously pitching to an angel for funds ; pressing clients for invoices to be paid and trying to keep up with all the various admin that will come your way.
The life of a small business is very rarely seamless and never without pitfalls. However, if you are not considering ways to make your company as visible online as possible then a lot of your hard work will be in vain.
This is why it’s crucial to have an inbound marketing strategy to ensure that you can bring people in – whilst you can focus on the nuts and bolts of your business. You might understandably ask what is inbound marketing and why is it so important? well according Hubspot
“Since 2006 inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Instead of the old buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be”
In other words it’s about catching the eye of a potential customer by making your digital presence as attractive as possible. Imagine if you are going out on a date to a nice restaurant and then to a show – you will want to look your absolute best and show you have made an effort.
The same applies for your inbound marketing strategy. Customers and search engines will notice if you are making an effort and this will ultimately assist bottom line sales. Ultimately, it is about putting your customers first and creating a user experience for them which is both engaging and enticing.
Here are a list of important factors to consider for any inbound marketing strategy:
One of the most fundamental parts of any inbound marketing strategy is ensuring that you plug it with interesting and creative content. There are so many fantastic ways in which you can do this: One of the most popular methods is blog writing. Ensure that you create interesting and engaging blogs which will make people want to read them and in turn know more about your company.
Consider the use of Vlogs (Video blogs) and ensure that your audience get a real visual understanding of what you are about. You could also incorporate infographics ( Graphic data representing key information and knowledge) to your content. By constantly creating content that sticks you will become more visible to search engines and drive traffic to your site – Which leads me on to my next point
This well known abbreviation stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Essentially this the art of utilising your website to become as visible as possible to search engines – which will most likely be Google. The more visible that you become to search engines the higher site will rank in search.
For example if your company sells audible books online and your company comes up on the first page of the term audible books, people are more likely to buy from you there than say if you are on the 6th page under the same search term.
It’s important that you understand the difference between organic – freshening your site up with rich content and a well designed site – and Paid which is the method of literally bidding for search terms, otherwise known as PPC ( Pay per click). Think about adopting an integrated approach to this to ensure that you business is given the best possible chance to be as visible as possible.
According to Techopedia Email Marketing can be understood as “The targeting through mail (email) often associated with data mining, email marketing can be used to impact consumers in a variety of ways. In general, email marketing is a more evolved, digital form of traditional direct mail marketing”.
This is another important part of the inbound marketing mix. If you are not emailing customers or subscribers and nurturing them then you are missing a trick. With so much spam in circulation and a huge amount of competition it’s important to send out content that is relevant to the customer and that you are extremely targeted. So you don’t get blacklisted always provide an opt- in mechanism eg. subscription forms or provide tick boxes when they create an account.
If you are sending emails to large lists or on a regular basis then it would be wise to use one of the various email marketing programmes on offer. Many of these programmes provide free services or trial periods for you to find out which suits you and your business.
Email marketing programmes will allow you to manage your email marketing simply. The tool will enable you to manage and segment your lists and also create emails that are personalised and branded straight to their inbox. One that I would recommend using is MailChimp which is excellent.
A key thing to consider when thinking about an inbound marketing strategy is fully utilising social media. With social media’s enormous popularity it would be a massive oversight to not consider utilising platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin or Pinterest.
Not only does it offer the chance to share content or promote special offers you might be doing , but it also gives you a platform to engage with your audience. You can directly respond to questions that someone may pose to you – In this way it can also act as a kind of useful tool for customer service as it allows you to instantly respond to any issues someone might be having with your product or service.
Of course monitoring social can be quite a challenge, so it might be wise to use some monitoring tools. The most popular tool is Hootsuite which will allow you to integrate all your accounts onto one complete dashboard.
Referral and affiliate
Perhaps less fundamental than the aforementioned points,but certainly something worth considering for your inbound marketing strategy. Essentially referral and affiliate are concerned with endorsement from third parties, which will also make your site appear even more amenable towards search engines.
According to Digital Formation World Affiliate marketing refers to the process where “ Potential affiliates sign up to a dedicated scheme which rewards the supply of extra customers” whilst conversely referral relates to word of mouth whereby “Brands will need to perform at consistently high standards to achieve excellent results.”
This relates more to building up a network which is more related to brand engagement whilst affiliate is often something outsourced with a monetary gain. Both of these methods could pull in some interesting gains and contribute substantially to your inbound marketing.
MadeSimple is a business service provider offering a variety of different products to startups. This includes company formation, credit checks, virtual office services, domain hosting and tax returns.
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