Inbound Marketing: Where To Begin For Small Businesses
Inbound marketing is a customer-centric, content-driven approach to marketing that focuses on engaging and attracting inbound sales enquiries from potential customers, rather than interrupting them through traditional outbound sales methods. With numerous inbound strategies and channels available to small businesses, it’s easy for business owners to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin. In this article, we will guide you through the essential steps for developing a bespoke inbound marketing plan tailored to the needs of your small business and its customers.
1. Define Your Buyer Personas/Ideal Customers
Before you invest in any marketing activities, it’s important to identify your buyer personas – also known as ideal customer – profiles. Knowing who these people are, what they value from a product or service like yours, and what they need right now is essential for creating meaningful content that resonates with them and encourages engagement. Building these profiles can also help you better understand your audience’s characteristics, behaviours, preferences, and even demographics, so are a useful market research and brainstorming tool on which to base future content development. You can use online tools such as Google Analytics and social media to gather information about your target customers or conduct surveys and interviews with existing customers to build a well-rounded profile.
2. Establish Your Brand And Messages
Your marketing brand is more than just a logo or a tagline – it’s more about the perception and emotions that your business evokes in the minds of your customers. Therefore, a core part of inbound marketing is creating a strong and consistent voice that aligns with your buyer personas, values, and mission. Your messaging should be clear, concise, straightforward, and relevant to your audience; use your unique selling propositions to differentiate yourself from your competitors in your content and create compelling CTAs.
3. Develop A Bespoke Content Strategy
Digital content is the backbone of inbound marketing, with an asset base that will grow to include your website content, landing pages, blog articles, downloadable guides, videos, infographics, and social media posts. Creating quality content that adds value to your target audience can help you attract and engage them, build trust, and nurture relationships throughout the sales cycle. Your content should be topical, easy to read, and entertaining, addressing the needs, pain points, and interests experienced by your customers at a particular stage in their journey – whether this is awareness, consideration, or decision.
4. Invest In Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
SEO is the practice of optimising your website and online content to rank higher on search engines – principally Google but also Bing and voice-activated search engines such as Microsoft Cortana and Apple’s Siri. It’s important to understand the basic dos and don’ts of SEO to increase your visibility and reach more potential customers. You should pay attention to using relevant keywords, meta descriptions, alt text, internal linking, and a website that looks the same on all devices, in all your content, but remember that visibility to search engine robots isn’t the be-all and end-all of inbound marketing. Your content must primarily be aligned with the interests and needs of human readers, and Google rewards high-quality content with higher rankings, while low-quality and ‘spammy’ content is often penalised.
5. Promote Your Content Through Multiple Channels
Creating great content on your business blog or website is not enough to get you noticed. You’ll need to actively promote it through multiple marketing channels to reach your audience and drive traffic to your site. There are various channels you can use for this such as social media, email marketing, guest blogging, influencer outreach, and paid ads on Google and various social platforms. Prioritise the channels that are used most by your target personas and test different approaches to see what works best.
6. Track And Analyse Your Performance
To measure the effectiveness of your inbound marketing efforts, you should take advantage of data monitoring and analytics tools such as Google Analytics and HubSpot. These tools let you track engagement metrics such as website traffic, conversion rate, bounce rate, time on site, and social shares – giving you an objective picture of how well your assets are attracting your target customers. The articles and digital assets that perform the best are often the ones you least expect at the time. Use this data to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your content strategy and adjust accordingly to improve your performance.
7. Test And Refine Your Marketing Strategy
Inbound marketing is an iterative process, meaning you need to test and refine your content strategy continuously to stay relevant and effective. A/B testing is a powerful technique that allows you to compare two versions of your content and identify which one performs better. You can test different headlines, visuals, formats, calls-to-action, or even entire campaigns, using the insights to refine your content over time and achieve better results.
Getting Started With Inbound Marketing
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