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You’ve heard about all the great things you can accomplish with inbound marketing. Maybe from one of our seminars, webinars or maybe from your friend Earl who just started doing some for his business. It doesn’t really matter how, what’s important is you have decided to give it a shot.

And a great decision at that, I may add. It is true what they say, if you are looking to shorten your sales cycle, grow a community or even just get your company’s name out there, inbound marketing is one of the most effective ways to do it.

But, now that you’ve decided to make the leap to inbound marketing, you may be feeling a little confused about what your first steps should be. It’s a lot to take in, so don’t worry if you are a little unsure. Let me just ask you one question:

“What do you want to accomplish?”

This question puts your inbound marketing, strategy and your first steps in perspective. The first step in inbound marketing is deciding what areas you want to focus on and answering the question “what do you want to accomplish?” will help you decide.

Is your primary focus shortening you sales cycle? Do you want to limit the time in between potential consumers deciding if your product is worth their hard-earned dough? Maybe you just want to keep your name in people’s minds and encourage repeat business? If these sound like you then email marketing should be the primary focus. Reach out to your list of contacts with monthly newsletters, containing information about promotions or other content they may find relevant. You can also use automated email campaigns to follow up after conversations with prospects.

However, maybe that isn’t what you are looking for. Maybe you are looking to play the SEO game and help build your positioning on Google and other search engines. Then blogging is more your call. Providing a steady stream of quality content on a blog roll that meets all the brutal SEO demands of Google will help you rise among the ranks of anonymity and hopefully towards Page 1.

Then again, maybe you are more concerned with building your contact list and discovering leads? Or, just expanding your community and following? If that is the case, turn your attention to social media and developing downloads. Social media allows for cheap and effective advertisement while downloads are one of the strongest ways to obtain new emails and contacts (in the name of all that is holy, never waste your money on purchasing leads).

Keep in mind the most successful inbound marketing campaigns implement all of the above to some extent or another. In fact, they all work hand in hand, fueling and helping you develop the other areas of inbound marketing. So, regardless of what your main focus is, don’t be afraid to dabble in other areas.

Set a schedule

Now that you know what your focus is, it’s time to figure out your plan of attack and set up your schedule.

Your strategy for content can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. However, there are a couple things you need to nail down, frequency and topics you choose to publish being key.

You want to get on a regular schedule when it comes to sending out emails or publishing social media posts. For emails, there are best times to reach out to different groups. You also want to be consistent with the number of emails you send each month and the relative time in between each one. The same goes for social media. You don’t want to flood feeds with 5 posts one day and then drop off the map for 2-3 days at a time.

You also need to figure out what kind of content you want to publish. Are your blogs going to be basic FAQs? Employee bios? Case studies? Aim for posting a variety of content at different times. That way, someone scrolling through your roll will see more than 6 straight employee bios and nothing else. These blogs can in turn be posted to social media, so you need to make sure they also fit the message you are presenting on each platform.

One of the best ways to make sure all your ducks are in a row is with a content calendar. You can plot each post, each newsletter and even each social media update well in advance to make sure everything is cohesive.

Time to start creating

You know your focus, you know your schedule. It’s time to start pumping out that content. There may be some growing pains and a learning curve, but the only way to get your inbound marketing figured out is to jump in.

Of course, it never hurts to get a little help along the way.

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Sam and Lorraine spent some time chatting about this topic recently. Listen to the episode now:
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