I have talked to literally hundreds of businesses about marketing and a common theme that I have come across over the last few years is that entrepreneurs and small business owner / managers are literally overwhelmed by the whole subject of digital marketing.
This blog post covers some of jargon that you are likely to encounter and some practical top tips that you can actually put into practice.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing literally focuses on pulling customers into your business with helpful, educational content – content marketing and social selling are the new buzzwords but it has been going on for years.
Provide your customers with good, helpful information and this will grow to know, like and trust you. If you do this online in the form of a blog (such as this post!), it will draw inbound traffic to your website or blog.
What is outbound marketing?
Outbound marketing covers the outward marketing communications (often known as direct marketing) and includes many traditional tools such as leaflets, direct mail, telemarketing.
It's all about the content
Content marketing is more valuable than ever and can work well for businesses of any size.
Tip #1: Invest in visual content – more than ever, social is going visual. Who wants to read some boring text when video or infographics are available?
Tip #2: Test, test and test again – you may have heard about ‘split A/B testing' and it all sounds a bit scary. Put simply, try something and see how it works in terms of conversions then change one thing (such as the headline) and see if the conversion rates change. There are a whole range of tools such as LeadPages, OptimizePress, Thrive Leads and a whole lot more that can help you test different landing pages, sales pages and sales ‘funnels'.
Tip #3: Provide value – people do not want to be bombarded with promotional sales messages from you. Try providing good added value content to demonstrate your expertise in your market and weave in your promotional messages in a subtle way.
Make sure you re-purpose your content and deliver this in as many different ways as possible – for example, you could write a blog post then pull out different bullet points as tweets, transcribe audio podcasts into blog posts and collect your blog posts together to make an e-book. It is all about maximising your use of the content you have written.
Tip #4: Answer the questions your customers ask – this may sound obvious, but if your customers are asking the same questions, then there is clearly a demand for the answer! By answering common customer questions anyone Googling the subject will be more likely to find you. If you don't answer people's questions in your content marketing, you can't possibly appear in Google's search results.
Tip #5: Write a high quality blog – this is one of the most effective ways of encouraging customers to visit your website. Write articles that help the customer such as top tips on selecting a product or service, articles on how to make sure they get the best results and/or good value for money – try googling ‘blog content ideas' and you will get thousands of top tips!
Tip #6: SEO Strategies – we are repeatedly asked about search engine optimisation – there are some ‘technical issues and tricks' but making sure your website is full of good content is at the heart of a successful SEO strategy. Without content, you have no keywords. Without content you are not in the results. It's as simple as that.
Tip #7: Develop a Powerful Lead Magnet – with the best will in the world, people visiting your website will not remember it. A casual visitor to your site may like your content and may even bookmark your site but let's face it, who ever looks at their bookmarks regularly?
The only way to success with a co-ordinated digital marketing and social media strategy is to develop a powerful lead magnet – i.e. something that your prospects want and are will to sign up for. Lead magnets don't have to be lengthy or complex – but they do have to be an ‘irresistible bribe' that offers enough value to a prospect for them to give you their contact details. Typical lead magnets may include items such as a a guide or report, a ‘swipe file' or cheat sheet, a resource list, a review, a toolkit, an infographic, a free trial, a discount…the list is almost endless – anything that your prospects will find valuable.
Tip #8: Use a call to action – make sure everything that you do has a ‘call to action'. Remember the small pair of scissors on the coupon showing it should be cut out? They really work. Maybe that is a bit subtle these days on the web – provide a big, bold button that your user can click on to sign up (such as the one below!)
Tip #9: Use Landing Pages – websites are great for engagement and communicating with your prospects but you also need to remember that people are easily distracted. A landing page (or squeeze page) is a page with a single purpose – to capture the lead.
Tip #10: Develop a long-term relationship with your customers – most small businesses have a habit of obtaining new customers, delivering the product or service then promptly ignoring them. This is easily done in the day-to-day operations, who has the time to phone up every customer every week? Fortunately, there are marketing automation tools available to help you develop and manage your long-term relationships with customers – tools such as ActiveCampaign, Infusionsoft, Ontraport or AgileCRM which all allow you to segment, communicate and interact with customers using automated e-mails based on their activities on your website and clicks in the e-mails you send.
The final and possibly most valuable tip is to just have a go and see what works! If it works, do more of it..if it doesn't, don't waste your time doing it again!
Mark Woodroof is a qualified marketing coach who was awarded a BA(Hons) in Business and a Diploma in Marketing (from the Chartered Institute of Marketing) in the early 1990's and has spent the last 20 years working with private and public sector organisations.
During that time, Mark has worked with hundreds of business owners helping them to grow their businesses, launch new products and services, set up and manage their own marketing plans, websites and digital marketing strategies.
Today, he specialises in Digital Marketing, Social Media, WordPress Development and marketing automation systems such as ActiveCampaign & Infusionsoft.
Mark's areas of expertise include:
- Marketing Strategy & Planning
- Software Development Project Management (Microsoft.Net & Laravel)
- Customer Relationship Management Systems (Infusionsoft, Zoho & Insightly)
- Web Design & Development
- Digital Marketing Campaign Development
- Mailing List Services (eg AWeber, Mailchimp)
- Traffic Generation Strategies & Tactics
- Sales Funnels, Squeeze Pages & Online Conversion
- Customer Value Optimization
- BA(Hons) Business Studies (University of Portsmouth)
- Diploma in Marketing (Chartered Institute of Marketing)
- Level 5 in Coaching and Mentoring (Chartered Management Institute)
- DigitalMarketer Certifications:
- Certified Content Marketing Specialist
- Certified Customer Acquisition Specialist
- Certified Customer Value Optimization Specialists