Before you start creating any content you need to get these things set-up:
- Search engine verification: It sounds simple and it is, but it is really important that you verify your website with the search engines. Make sure you have a site map and submit it to them to the main engines.
- Get set up with Google Analytics: If you are serious about moving into digital marketing then you must get set up on Google Analytics. It is a free tool offered by Google that tracks and reports on all the web traffic to your site. It is the most widely used analytics tool service on the Internet and should be a ‘must have’ set-up for your business.
- Competitor check: It is always useful to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. There are a number of useful sites to help with this (Semrush and Similarweb are both good) as is Hubspots competitor report (but only available if you are using the Hubspot tool).
Start Planning and Creating Content:
- Personas: Before you begin to create blog content, you need to have a clear view of who you are targeting and what sort of solutions they are looking for. Personas are a created description of your targets and they serve to ensure that your content responds to the needs of your target audience. You are looking to understand exactly what their top challenges are and ultimately how your solutions can help answers these problems for them. Getting your personas developed is one of the most important tasks you will have as you move into the Inbound Marketing space.
- Personas & Content cross check: Once you have your personas developed, your content should look to provide answers to their most pressing problems. It is important that you create the right content for the right audience. Hence you should carry out cross analysis between your personas and your content architecture so that you don’t find you are missing content for a key target group as this will mean missing potential leads from this group.
- Keyword Research: Search engine ranking can be the making or breaking of your business success online. Make sure you do the right research into what keywords will work for your audience in connecting them to your business offer. With the help of Google adword tools, you can determine which words and phrases are the most likely to succeed for you. Finally make sure your keyword research is reflected in your buyer personas.
- Content calendar: Creating good content consistently is a challenge. An excellent way of ensuring you achieve this is to create a content plan. This allows you to identify the range of topics you will create and how aligned they are with the personas you have created. It also means you can plan and see your campaigns as they will play out for the different target audiences. With your calendar, you can see your content develop as a blog, white paper, e-book, info-graphic, video etc and how it fits around your buyers sales journey. You can assess whether you have the right content at the different stages to help the lead transition to being a customer.
- Review your old content: Most businesses that move into a more structured Inbound Marketing program, will have existing material. This material is not to be wasted. Review it against the new buyer personas and the keywords you have identified. Then set about editing the content to reflect these keywords so that it will be better optimized against your targets needs. Pay particular attention to the title as this is what most of the engines will look to begin ranking your content. But you should look to maintain any links that are there for this blog – so don’t change the url or these will be lost. Add a call to action if you can and direct that at a landing page offering more valuable content. And finally look to get it linked or mentioned on social media.
- Write a Batch of New Blog Posts: Keep writing new content. One of the key targets you should be looking to achieve is to maintain a strong level of output as it has a direct relationship to your SERP positions. There will be times when you are just too busy to write, so our advise is to put extra pressure on yourself when you are able to create content and get content in the bank for that busy period. In this way you will be protecting your engine optimization by avoiding lull content periods.
- Give Your Blog A Make-Over: Make sure your blog has all of the following – looks great, reads great and is valuable to the reader. If you are going to build a loyal following, then you will have to offer content that is better than your competitors. Your blogging is effectively you selling in the market. There is a lot at stake and you do not want to be coming in second best on any of these metrics. So take the time to ensure you are delivering on these fronts.
- Get social: You have to work out which social media channel is most effective for you. Your engagement metrics will clarify this for you. If all your followers are engaging with you on Instagram and not Facebook or twitter, then you need to be sure you spend more time on developing content that ill be appropriate for this platform and continue to maximize engagement with your target audience.
- Connecting with key influencers: BuzzSumo is a great way of finding industry influencers and what content is working across blog and social media channels. Or even do a Google search for your top topics and see who is ranking. Now the hard bit comes in – you have to try and integrate with these influencers by building links with them.
- Research Hashtags: Getting a great #hashtag can make a huge difference to the success of your campaign of message. It can be the difference between being found and not. Researching which hashtags are relevant to your post will be important. There are tools available to do this such as hashtagify/talkwalker/ritetag that you should consider.
- Posting schedule: It is easy to lose focus when it comes to digital marketing and posting regular and informed messages. There will always be an amount of commenting on industry news items or articles that merit a comment. But you should also have a plan for the sort of content you want to post and ensure that it is developed into your calendar so that you don’t miss it. This will also allow you to plan better more integrated campaign messages across your channels.
- Calls To Action: CTA on Facebook are now available. This feature allows you to include a call to action button on your cover photo. From this CTA you can create a landing page and drive traffic for your campaign using a very specific message.
- Content asset bank: Once you are up and running on your social media you will need to keep it fresh and interesting. Start creating and building a bank of assets that will allow you achieve this. Things like graphics, images should be part of this collection.
- Surveys: Publishing surveys is an excellent way of promoting your own thought leadership and also to gather valuable feedback from your existing customer base and your prospects. You can gather key details on what their challenges are. Google forms or Surveymonkey are both good tools to get you started.
- Quizzes: Online quizzes are an excellent way on engaging with your prospects. Many people believe that quizzes are aimed more to a consumer rather than a business audience. But we feel a good quiz can be a very effective tool for both consumer and enterprise. There are great tools available such as quzzr, which help create and deliver a great quiz experience for your business or brand.
- Infographics are very powerful: They say a picture paints a 1000 words. Online graphic content is very successful. Inforgraphics in particular are able to deliver on 2 levels – be visually stimulating and eye catching but containing valuable information that the reader finds interesting. Developing infographic content should absolutely be on your content target list. They are amongst the most shared and liked items online.
- How-to: How-to guides are excellent ways of offering valuable content. Here we would advise that you take a 2-pronged approach. You should look to create short ‘How To’ guides which can be read by prospects quickly and provide solutions to very specific issues or deal with broader issues in a very succinct manner. Secondly you should look to develop an in-depth guide on these same subjects. This document looks to take care of the topic from A-Z. Hence you are covering prospects that want a quick solution and also those that want a deeper look into a potential solution. This will also reflect your prospects at different stages along the buyer journey. It is also worth noting that this type of strategy will be recognised by the search engines as they look to reward content providers that seem to ‘own’ a topic. The level of authority they will allocate to search to creators of this type of end-to-end content will be very rewarding from an SERP prospective.
- Explainer video: Google have been clear that they value dynamic content like video highly and hence if you are serious about getting good rankings, for your site you really have to be planning on delivering interesting video content. Developing How-to or explainer videos will work very well with your prospects and with the engines. These videos can be short solutions to common problems.
- Case Study: One of the most influential marketing tools your company can produce is an effective case study. Think about it, what better way to convince prospects that you are the answer to their needs than have a detailed review of work that you have delivered.
How You Can Generate More Quality Leads:
- Landing pages: Landing pages are a huge part of developing a successful inbound marketing program. If you haven’t started using landing pages to generate leads – start today. If you are using Landing Pages but they are not generating leads, you need to re-optimise these pages or review the content that they are offering. Are your headings working? it the content clear and concise? is our form easy to see, easy to fill in and not too long? Is there a clear CTA on the page? Would a customer testimonial help in convincing prospects to sign up? Have you got a strong appropriate image on the page? All of these elements can play an important part in delivering a successful Landing Page.
- Automated Follow Ups: One of the advantages of an automated marketing platform such as Hubspot, is that you can ensure that any leads get an early response from your team. So a follow up to the initial form completion is very important. If you are not managing your campaigns through an automated tool, then you need to ensure that you stay on top of your leads and make contact with your prospect.
- Create New Lead Generation Offers: The buyer persona research should be the corner stone of your offers. These offers are your gateways into your business. So you need to generate as many of them as you can so that you will reach as broad an audience as possible. Marketing Sherpa recently highlighted that 60% of websites have less than 10 Landing Pages. You want to keep challenging yourself to develop the number of offers.
- Recycle Old Content Into eBooks: Re-purposing old content is a great way of creating new energy around your site. Normally your old content is never completely irrelevant. When you have created your buyer personas and believe them to be as accurate as they can be, you will then be in a position to refine your keywords. From here you can re-examine this older content and edit it to better fit your persona needs and allow the keywords to become part of the new version text. Suddenly what seemed old redundant content is now capable of playing a starring role in SEO and developing new leads once again.
- Webinars: Webinars are a really great tool to generate new business from and to help position your business as a thought leader. The dynamic content is weighted well with the search engines and will help your page ranking. The nature of webinars delivery of content creates a great level of trust between the content provider and the target prospect. Webinars also score very well in relation to providing solutions for your audience.
- A/B testing: If you are using an automated marketing tool such as Hubspot, there are excellent features that allow you to test different tactical features such as your CTA buttons and how they are performing and which ones are more successful than others. You should be looking to assess which CTA’s are working better than others. You will be amazed at the difference a simple change in language or location of a CTA can make to a campaign.
- Form management: We always talk about how important it is to deliver forms that are easy to see and simple to fill in. Part of the management of this should be a constant review of how your forms are being received. If they are not being filled in enough and you are losing visitors on pages with forms, you have to review and adjust them until they connect with your targets as you would wish. Be aware that you should try and reflect the stage in the sales journey with your forms and the type of information you are looking for. So for a new visitor at an early part of the sales journey a simple name, company and email will suffice and encourage them to fill in. However the deeper they go through the funnel and consume more of your content, the more information you can glean through your forms.
- Automated Smart content: Another advantage of working on an automated tool is the opportunity to approach your marketing with smart content. In this instance your software can track where your visitors have been on your site, what content they have consumed and therefore predict with real accuracy what sort of content they will engage with. It also means that every time these known visitors return to your site, they are getting a different and very personal experience. That becomes are very powerful conversation.
- Lead Management Workflow advantages: It is essential that you keep in contact with your leads. On average a lead will need 8 different contacts before they will become engaged at a real level. As your pipeline builds it is very easy to fall off your longer-term prospects. But the real long term focused businesses are those that keep in constant communication with all prospects and keep nudging them through the funnel with valuable communication and content offers.
- Optimise Thank You pages: As we have said, you should be looking to be sales focused throughout your site. And this is also true when you look at Thank You pages. These pages are a soft opportunity to simply says thanks for the recent engagement, but they should also look to promote other parallel content, which might be of interest and helps to show that you have a broad understanding of the issues they are faced with and multiple solutions available.
- Website experience: Your website is the core hub of your digital marketing efforts. As a result you have to ensure that the user experience of your site is excellent. What are the elements you need to ensure are performing? Ensure your navigation is clear and logical for visitors to find your content. Poor navigation is a regular weakness for sites and impacts heavily on bounce rates. Ensure you have a site map available of the site. It is rewarded by the search engines and also allows visitors the option to get an overview of your full site if the want to.
About: The about section is your chance to be very clear about what makes your business unique. However, one of the mistakes websites make, is that they never review and adjust this page so that it can retain a level of freshness.
Chat window: Chat windows are an excellent way of getting visitors to engage more with your site and to ask very specific question that are important to them. It is important that you can respond quickly to these chat questions and ideally that it could be conducted as a live chat.
Hotjar: Using heat maps is another excellent way of examining how your site is performing, where people are going on different pages, what pages they are navigating to and what they are pressing to download etc. When you have this information it allows you to tweak and improve your site.
Pricing: If its appropriate to your business you should try and have some pricing details available for visitors. It really does help them get a feel for what your are offering in a tangible way. This doesn’t work for all business particularly consultative type businesses. Perhaps here you can describe what factors are involved in developing a price.
Getting The Most Out From Email Marketing:
- Databases: It is important that however or wherever you keep your customer databases that you clean them regularly. It is estimated that at least 20%-25% of data becomes obsolete within 12 months. Hence you must keep on top of your base verification to maximise engagement.
- Email: Email is still the top performing method of digital communication for B2B sales teams. But it is getting harder to connect through email. Our view is that it is only a matter of time before Email is usurped as the main communication tool and that messaging will become the default tool. But email is not dead yet. But it has to be really really good if its going to succeed. Hence you have to ensure your email template looks fantastic but also has fantastic engaging content with all the right features such as CTA’s – then your email marketing can be a success.
- Newsletter: A lot like email as a marketing tool, e-newsletters are often seen as a dinosaur in todays digital marketing world. However, offering people the chance to sign up for regular newsletter updates is still popular. Hence if your potential targets choose to consume content in this way, you have to offer it to them. Make you CTA clear and ensure that your newsletter is well designed and full of great content. The real advantage of a newsletter sign up is that you know you can actively reach your base every time you publish – monthly usually. This is a very valuable marketing tool. Another advantage is that your blog content can often develop from your newsletters or vice versa.
Get Your Sales Team On-Board With Inbound Marketing Automation:
- Inbound Sales Certified: Even if you are not on the Hubspot platform, you should look to become Hubspot certified. If you are serious about Inbound Marketing, then having this certificate will help you be even more convincing with your colleagues
- Client Workshop: If you want to position your business as a thought leader in your industry, then you should consider hosting a workshop where you invite customers and prospects to a content filled session where you examine some of the key challenges in their businesses. This workshop should be about your customers and not a hard sell for your business. Consider inviting in an outside expert who might help lend more credibility to the occasion. This type of activity also helps sales and marketing to work better together.
- Sales and Marketing Workshop: All of the recent research points to a gap between the sales and marketing functions. With Inbound Marketing as a key part of your strategy, you must look to get these functions working closer together. Certainly if you can use an automated sales and marketing tool that can make a huge difference to the dynamic. You should put in place regular sessions for these teams to examine what the strategy is looking to achieve and how you can better integrate the functions.
As this type of collaboration develops, you should be looking to develop SLAs that both functions can sign up to. Research has shown that with every improvement in the dynamic and collaboration between sales and marketing there is a direct uplift in revenue.
And finally, don't dwell on not having started as soon as you would have liked. The sooner you get moving, the sooner you will begin to build the online profile you need to succeed. Good luck!