In my recent post “Time to Change Internet Marketing Horses” I talked about the ineffectiveness of using single methods, such as SEO by itself, to accomplish marketing goals. I suggested that Inbound Marketing provides the best alternative, by connecting the dots between great content, social media marketing, SEO and lead capture. Let’s take a closer look at how this works.
As a best practice, we always start with inbound marketing strategy. What is the goal of your Inbound Marketing project and is it measurable? As an example, let’s say that we are a furniture dealer. Current sales have dropped over the past 8-12 months by 30% due to the economy. Looking back a bit further, we see that sales have actually been declining steadily over the past three years, so it’s not just the recession at work. We’ve been spending consistently on newspaper ads, direct mail and occasional radio spots for special events, with no apparent boost in revenues. We have a website where we mirror our advertising, but we have no idea how many customers come from the Web or any other marketing venue. On average we get 20 sales a week at $2,000 per sale. We would like to increase that to 25 sales per week, for an additional $40,000 per month. If possible, we would like to accomplish that goal without significantly increasing our marketing budget, and we would like to see direct measurement of results to compare with past performance.
Step 1 – Prepare the Launch/Landing Pad
We need to be able to attract new and current customers, capture them as leads, follow up and convert them to sales and measure results. Ideally, we want to do this in one place using one set of tools. Your website is the perfect launch/landing pad. Our to-do list includes:
- Redesign your website – make it clean, inviting and most importantly, obvious to the visitor what’s on sale and how to get it.
- Make the web site search engine ready (seo) so that we attract new visitors from Google and beat the competition to the punch. This is where SEO comes in. We use the Hubspot Website Grader and Page Grader to make it easy to optimize our sites and individual pages.
- Do our homework on the best keywords for our industry and products. What words will our future customers search with to find our products? We use the Hubspot Keyword Grader to find the best keywords that we can rank on and track them to measure how well we do with each keyword or combination.
- Create attractive landing pages that will convert visitors to leads. Offer your visitors something valuable, like a $100 discount if they sign up online. The whole point is to get them to sign up so that you can follow up and convert them to customers. Make sure your landing page is obvious to casual visitors using appealing calls-to-action throughout your site. We can do this easily using Hubspot’s Landing Page Wizard that helps you easily create great landing pages and calls to action.
Step 2 – Blog and Promote
- Now we need to get the word out. You must have a prominent blog featured on your website and use it early and often. Blog every day if you can. Blog about subjects of interest to your customers. Talk about or show how customers are using your products. Come up with creative ideas. Use videos, slideshows or photo galleries that show off your products and involve people in exchanging ideas. Don’t forget to add your important keywords to blog titles and content. This is where you get the SEO benefit as your blogs are spread around and indexed by the search engines. Also don’t forget to link to your landing pages from your blogs. Remember the objective, to convert visitors to leads and follow up to convert them to customers.
- Get involved in the community – join the major social networking sites and start building a community of people interested in furniture, for example. Network with them daily, providing links to blogs you find via your RSS feeds or participate in discussions. Establish yourself and/or your company as a community leader, one who gives a lot and doesn’t ask much in return. You can promote your own blogs, as long as they are helpful and interesting. Go easy on the direct advertising. That’s what your landing pages are for. Don’t forget to promote your blogs on the social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Delicious, Reddit and StumbleUpon. You get an additional SEO benefit from these sites.
Step 3 – Capture Leads, Follow-up and Measure
- Our blogs, landing pages and social media networking are increasing traffic to our site and people are starting to sign-up for our discount offer.
- We measure results over time using the Hubspot Lead Tracking tool and Lead Funnel. As leads come in, we call them to thank them for their interest and invite them into our showroom. When we make a sale, we go back to the Lead Funnel and indicate a conversion to customer. Now we can track the entire marketing-sales cycle in one place.
- We can also evaluate our marketing program and make adjustments to improve results. We can try different landing pages and different blog subjects to see which ones capture the most leads. We can publish polls to measure customer preferences directly and monitor blog comments to gauge customer sentiment.
- We report results to Senior Management periodically. In the above example, we need 5 new paying customers a week. With a reasonable investment in Inbound Marketing (software, labor and creative juices) we have increased Web traffic 5-fold in a few months, and our visitors know us from our blogs and social networking. We’re up to 1000 new website visitors a week and we are converting them to leads at 10%, or 100 new leads per week.* Our sales team is doing a great job following up and converting 10% of these leads to paying customers, or 10 sales per week.* In a short period of time we have exceeded our sales goals by 100%.
There’s more good news. Now we know exactly what works and how to tweak our program to gain even better conversion rates. Our investment has not only improved sales, but it has also given us a means to measure results and build new campaigns going forward.
* These numbers are just an example, but not an unreasonable one with a solid Inbound Marketing program.
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