Adopting a solid online marketing strategy can seem like a complex, confusing task. However, because so much traffic flows from search engines and social media, creating a strong inbound marketing strategy is a task that can’t be avoided.
As of 2013, 85% of Americans are online in some way. Building a noticeable online presence with a growing following is essential. This requires attention grabbing content that ads value to the lives of readers.
More traditional outbound marketing tactics, such as pop-up and banner ads, are falling by the wayside and these methods have been largely labeled as spam. Forward thinking companies have been forced to replace these old methods with newer, more relevant practices.
Astute marketers are creating custom content and following simple, yet effective new marketing strategies and getting incredible results. As the marketing landscape changes, business can’t afford not to invest in new, content centered inbound marketing practices.
The online world is a a place where you certainly don’t want to be behind the curve and where you do want to take advantage of opportunities to stay ahead of the competition.
There are certainly pitfalls to avoid, but creating great content is not difficult. You simply need to follow a few simple principles, and your online marketing efforts will pay dividends.
Create Large-Scale Lead Generation… With Little Manpower
One of the most attractive aspects about inbound marketing for many business owners is that the practice offers serious leverage in terms of time, money, and labor. Because it is entirely possible to gain global exposure online, savvy marketers are implementing new practices that allow for large-scale lead generation.
This generation of leads en masse can be accomplished through inbound marketing, or the process of generating inbound leads.
Basically, you don’t go fishing for leads –instead, you throw all your bait into the water, sit back, and watch as entire schools swim right into your net. If you’d like to catch more leads, this is clearly the solution.
According to Hubspot.com, inbound marketing has been the front-runner in lead generation for quite a few years now:
“Since 2006 inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online.”
The key to inbound marketing that gets results is to create content that fits your target market like a glove and irresistibly attracts their attention. One reason why Hubspot is a convincing authority on this topic is because they’ve experienced their own success through inbound marketing.
Being an SaaS (Software as a Service) company, Hubspot’s approach was to produce highly useful, educational content that provided their readers with a number of different of tools and media, such as ebooks, videos, white papers, studies, infographics, etc. The results of this strategy were stunning, and obviously successful:
• They received $33 million in venture capital
• Through only a 60-person marketing team, they receive roughly 25,000 leads per month
• In 2011, they saw a 350-percent growth in revenue, compared to 2010.
Long Tail Keywords: Because Not All Traffic Is Created Equally
Many successful companies that use inbound marketing techniques have implemented long tail keywords into their content, migrating away from the more competitive shorter key phrases.
A ‘long tail keyword’ is a long search phrase like “how do I fry an egg” and “what is the weather in Seattle”, rather than “fry egg” or “Seattle weather”. The key behind long tail keyword effectiveness is that you receive highly targeted and specific traffic, because your site has exactly what the user was searching. Long tail keywords are also less competitive and increase your likelihood of showing up on Google’s first page.
According to QuickSprout.com, they received 88,333 visitors from search engines within one month. Of those search engine visitors, 80,383 came from long tail keyword phrases.
Brafton.com says that long tail search traffic is 2.5 times more likely to convert than short keywords. Simply put, long tail keywords offer a beautiful balance between low competition and high interest value to the user.
Why Good Content Builds Trust
Building trust has always been an essential aspect of any type of marketing, –but, what is it that will build enough trust to convert that traffic to sales? and how does one build relationships through content?
The answer is two-fold:
- you can build loyalty by creating engaging, useful content that provides value to your readers for free
- you are able to build relationships with your readers.
This can be accomplished through participation from your readers, which ultimately comes from the useful content you post on your site.
Interaction and content sharing from your followers is basically a way of displaying instant validation to your leads. A Nielsen survey in 2012 found this to be true, as
“92% of people globally trust word-of-mouth recommendations,” according to SocialMediaToday.com.
OpenForum American Express is an excellent example of this fact. Through creating their own private social network, called Connectodex, and through their guest blogging program, called Ideahub, AmEx was able to create a blossoming, loyal community –all under the American Express umbrella. The strategy paid off:
• After implementing this strategy in 2007, they hit 1 million unique visitors in 2010.
• So far, Connectodex has grown by 11,000 small businesses.
• In Fortune Magazine’s most admired companies, they received 20th in the survey in 2011. They were 29th in the previous year.
Social Media Visual Content Marketing
The phrase, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” is a very old saying, which applies more today than ever. In the fast-paced world of cyberspace, it has been proven that pictures and videos attract more attention, sustain a lower bounce rate, and receive more searches than just about any other type of content on the web.
According to Unbounce.com, 65% of the population is composed of visual learners, which is largely why Google inquiries for infographics are up 800% in the last two years.
This is why online marketers are scrambling to develop ‘infographics’ by the truckload. An infographic is basically a visual illustration of a point, allowing for the reader to gain a better idea of the author’s ideas through graphics, charts, etc.
A company called Kissmetrics has had first-hand experience in the effectiveness of visual marketing and infographics. It was also one of the best examples of how inbound marketing through backlinks and interactions can cause a readership to explode in a relatively short amount of time.
Kissmetrics was one of the few companies that didn’t manually build any links or use any paid traffic, relying totally on organic growth. From their infographics alone…
• They saw 20,000 Facebook likes and 40,000 tweets in just 2 years.
• Through shares, they generated 40,000 backlinks –from which, Kissmetrics never paid a dime.
Why Stories Are Your Secret Weapon For Converting Leads
Just about everyone loves a story, including your sales prospects. The reason why many companies use stories for web content is because it causes the reader to connect and engage deeply. Stories draw in the audience to emotionally invest, meaning that they are more likely to trust you, and ultimately, buy whatever it is you are selling.
Gotypea.com has a highly informative piece on the power that stories have, translating this into statistics that matter to businesses. For instance, companies that,
“have cultures based on their story (purpose) and values out-perform companies that don’t…”
Content that causes readers to become engaged in a narrative have experienced eye-opening results:
• Their revenues grow 4x faster,
• They create 7x more jobs,
• Stock prices grew 12x faster than companies without a story.
A company, called Dive Rite, used this same method to get their readers involved. Dive Rite is based in Florida and sells deep diving, or tech diving equipment –but almost went out of business in 2007… until they adopted the strategy of generating content for inbound leads through telling stories about user experiences, advanced tech diving history, informational articles, and diver bios. Needless to say, the company bounced back:
• Their website saw 65-percent increase in traffic shortly thereafter
• Traffic flowing from their narrative content converts to sales at a rate of 3x higher than from any other sources.
• They’re now doing business in more than 50 countries.
Get Them To Chime In. Get Them Invested.
Hubspot.com compiled a list of several mind-blowing quick facts, which can provide prudent direction to your online marketing efforts. As I’ve been saying, the key to a successful inbound marketing strategy is to get your readers to engage, comment back, and take initiative to share your content with their own followers.
Not many companies are accomplishing this, as “less than 0.5% of Facebook fans engage with the brands they are fans of”.
However, the fact sheet also states that “20% of Facebook users have purchased something because of ads or comments they saw there.”
The discrepancy appears to come from the difference between companies that offer valuable content and companies that simply post content that is ‘business-as-usual’ or only post on an occasional basis. What largely separates these two categories is the implementation of ‘social proof’. Basically, social proof is that instant validation of a company or person, simply because fellow peers, readers, or customers have already approved.
One of the best ways to gain social proof is to allow users to author much of your content. This is basically called ‘user-generated content’ (guest blogging), and it works like a charm. Not only does it work because social proof naturally attracts business, but also because the sharing of your content on other sites will automatically generate backlinks.
Using American Express OpenForum as an example, they found that social proof is a very powerful phenomenon, seeing 1 million new visitors within just 3 years in operation.
Kissmetrics is another example of why using social proof simply works. They saw 1 million new visitors in just 10 months, tracked more than 36 billion interactions, and received 40,000 backlinks since 2008 (as stated above). Essentially, you could say that Kissmetrics runs on social proof alone, relying almost totally on people sharing, liking, and tweeting their content to grow their base.
Great content not only delivers value, but also creates interaction and sharing between businesses and customers. Valuable content creates trust, trust breeds interaction, and interaction leads to beneficial and lucrative relationships between you and your customers.