2017: forget all the resolutions made - and broken - in the past. This year, commit to one initiative that will effect positive changes and facilitate business growth: Inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing strategies maximizes time, money, and resources while building trust with your customers and leads. Consider this: given the plethora of information out there today, most consumers are aware of what they need to solve a given problem or “scratch” a given itch. What they’re searching for is brand that they can trust to deliver the solution. In 2017, make sure that brand is you. How?
Your 2017 Action Plan for Inbound Marketing Success
When it comes to typical New Year’s resolutions - e.g. to lose weight, save more money, spend more time with family and friends - good intentions often fizzle out for lack of planning and follow-through. The best way to achieve success is to clarify your goal(s) and then set short- and long-range goals that allow you to start seeing - and measuring - progress more quickly.
So, let’s start with short-range actions that you can take starting January 1. These will reap benefits that will help you build and maintain momentum.
If you have not done so already, take the time to nail down your goals. What exactly do you want to accomplish? Now’s not the time for vague statements such as, “Let’s increase sales.” Be more specific. “We want to increase sales through the website by 25% in 2017.” Or, “We’ll boost conversion rates for CTA X by 10% in the first quarter.” Whatever your goals, make them quantifiable, figure out what metrics you will use to measure them, and assign a target date.
Answer Consumers Questions.
If you take the time to develop customer/lead personas (and you should), you have a clear idea of what your customers need and want. You know who they are, what they care about, what they need, and, most importantly for your inbound marketing goals, what they have questions about. Follow this basic commandment of inbound and content marketing: answer thy customers questions. Develop content that addresses their questions and provides clear, cogent answers. Often, the lack of leads simply indicates your website is not doing its job in answering questions. Fortunately, this is a deficit you can fix quickly.
Integrate Inbound Marketing with PPC.
While inbound marketing is gaining in relevance and efficacy, that does not negate the role of well-planned outbound strategies, such as pay-per-click. In fact, when used in tandem, they can produce turbocharged results in terms of lead generation.
PPC is designed to draw visitors to your website: it cannot be successful if content is not relevant, well-designed, and easy to find.This year, tighten both PPC and inbound strategies. Make sure your site is sound, first and foremost. Do you clearly tell visitors what you do quickly? Is it understandable? Can they navigate easily to information they want, or do they have to search around? Is the interface intuitive? Does the content resonate with them? Et cetera and et cetera.
Then, when planning PPC ads, make sure each ad lines up with a landing page that directly relates to that ad. Sending visitors to your homepage is not going to cut it. Also, target people at the middle and top of the sales funnel - those at the awareness and interest stages - as well as those at the bottom. When you promote stellar content and the select keywords, you can help move these consumers along the cycle more efficiently.
These actions will help you see gains in the short-term. For long-range success, consider implementing the following tips:
Measure Your PPC Success - and Improve.
When you launch your PPC ads, pay careful attention. How does your audience react to certain messaging? Offers? Content pieces? Do you hit the nail on the head with some segments of your audience but fail with others? Do some landing pages or keyword sets garner more click-throughs? Use this data to tweak your ads and implement more effective ones. Remember, in your initial PPC ad runs, you can use split testing (i.e. run different versions of the same ad to see which word/layout/CTA works more effectively). This data is invaluable.
Set a Mission and Use Visitor Data to Validate It.
Does every single page on your website have a clear mission and purpose? It should. Some may be intended to increase awareness among those at the top of the sales funnel; content and CTAs should align with that function. Others may be targeted for the bottom of the funnel and require information that helps consumers make a decision and CTAs that encourage direction action.
When you identify each page’s mission, analyze the content and layout. Does every element help achieve that goal? And what does your visitor data say? Are they exiting at critical points? Are they bouncing around and then out? Use this intel to make key changes that help you accomplish your goals.
Create an Inclusive Environment. In other words, create a content environment that your prospects and consumers do not have to leave. Such a site helps raise awareness and answer entry-level questions at top of the funnel, it explains brand differentiation and value at middle, and it guides decisions at bottom. Your website should include everything that prospects need to make the journey from cold lead to hot lead to customer - without having to venture offsite for information. This means you need great design and even better content.
The age of the consumer is no doubt upon us. In 2017, we are only going to see more savvy prospects who research and gather information before seeking out a solution. Help them at this stage, build trust, and deliver answers - and it is much more likely they will stick with you and continue their journey up the sales funnel. Inbound marketing is one resolution that you can’t afford to break.