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Inbound Marketing

The Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing Strategies and Tactics

If you're trying to get your inbound strategy off the ground, you already know why inbound is a good fit for your company. You probably already have a good idea of what goes into an inbound strategy; blog posts, premium content offers, landing pages, and so on. 

The problem I've noticed most companies struggling with isn't the why or the what of inbound. It's the how that gives them the most trouble. The process of inbound marketing is where the train falls off the rails, and you end up frustrated.

The internet is full of articles on why you should do inbound marketing, and what you should do. Understanding your business should blog is the easy part, knowing how to write a blog that brings results is what separates the men from the boys.

In this series, we're going to look into the process of effective inbound marketing. When you finish this 12-part course, you will be able to draw up a results-oriented inbound marketing strategy, and implement it effectively.

How to Make a Results-Oriented Inbound Marketing Strategy

When I was younger, I made my living working construction; building and remodeling homes in rural Oklahoma. As an inbound marketer, I've noticed a striking parallel in the process of building a solid inbound strategy, and building a home.

There are many parallels between building a home and creating a marketing program for your business. Let's take a look at inbound marketing from a process standpoint.

Constructing an Inbound Marketing Strategy 

Lesson 1: Start with a Blueprint

Long before the hard hats come out, there's a substantial amount of time spent at a table, drawing lines and making strategic decisions into a complete blueprint. Then, that blueprint has to be approved by those in authority. Once everyone is satisfied, the building can start.

Blogging without a plan is inbound as much as randomly nailing boards together is building a house. (Tweet This)

A lot of people think they've adopted inbound marketing because they started blogging or writing an eBook. If you start without a comprehensive plan in place, you set yourself up for failure. A few months down the road you'll have built something, but it won't be functional, and you won't want to live in it.

 

Lesson 2: Build the Foundation

Without a strong foundation, every building is doomed from the beginning. In inbound marketing, your foundation is organic traffic. Make Search Engine Optimization (SEO) the cornerstone of your entire strategy.

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Photo Credit: Gizmodo

Do your Google Analytics research and know what terms people search for when looking for your product or service. Then build those keywords into every article, post and web page you create.

 

Lesson 3: Build the Structure

The next step in both building a house and an inbound campaign is the external structure. In a home, the walls and floors hold the entire structure together and will last for many years when built correctly.

In a marketing program, the structure consists of your marketing assets - your premium articles, eBooks, white papers, webinars, slide decks, and any other content. They are what your entire marketing strategy is built on and what converts visitors into leads.

 

Lesson 4: Add the Roof – Protecting Valuables

You'll be sharing lots of information on the internet for free to attract traffic. Make sure your site and the materials have clear copyright notices.

Prominently display your logo and contact information on everything, and add social shares that tag your website and social media channels. Everything you give away for free should include your branding to protect the precious content you've created.

When you create hyperlinks within your articles (contextual links) double check them for accuracy and include a Clear Call to Action (CTA) on every piece of content. If your article has links to external sites, open them in a new window, so you don’t lose your prospects. For in-site links, you don’t need new windows since you are keeping them captive.

Lesson 5: Add the Windows: Build Trust Through Transparency

Avoid trying to be cute or overly push with sales-oriented language. Instead, be transparent and honest. Let them see through your presentation.

Simply build a strong case, present the facts and offer a clear CTA. Create your content like you're writing to a trusted friend. 

Lesson 6: Add Character to the Outside

Branding is the key to your entire marketing campaign. Just like home builders work to create a “look” for the homes they build, you want a “look” that everyone instantly recognizes and identifies with you, your company, and your product or service.

Spend the time and money now to create a professional image. It will pay dividends for many years to come.

Lesson 7: Make Sure It's Up to Code

Just like builders must comply with codes and inspections, a marketing campaign needs to comply with all AMSCAM and Direct Marketing Association (DMA) rules and guidelines.

Avoid being blacklisted before you can get your message in front of your targeted audience. Don’t buy lists from list brokers. Build your own “opt-in” subscribers. It takes longer but is worth the effort.

Lesson 8: Passing Inspection

Home builders know that the buyer is the ultimate judge. Focus on what your buyer wants to see, hear and feel when they read your content, and you will have a winning program.

Plan for failure. If you find your customers don't care for some types of content, have a plan in place to pivot your strategy. This is why a plan is so important. It allows you to test and discover the most effective marketing practices so you can focus on them. 

Lesson 9: Create a Written Sign-Off Procedure

Home builders have final site inspections. Have a quality assurance process in place. You may write your very best, but extra eyes can catch small mistakes that may negatively affect your brand. 

Lesson 10: Presentation is Everything

Think about how you feel when you walk into a well-decorated home and give your readers that same welcoming feeling. Make content easy to skim and read. Use active phrasing and short, clear sentences to make your point.

Lesson 11: Put it on the Market

When all the components are in place, spend the time and money to properly promote your campaign. Even the best marketing campaigns of all time are worthless if they reach no one. Plan content promotion as much as you plan content creation. They are both equal sides to the same coin.

Lesson 12: It’s all About Presentation – “Curb Appeal”

Every realtor knows that when it comes time to selling your home, it’s all about “curb-appeal.” If people don’t’ like their first impression, no amount of painting or touch up will change their minds. 

This is where headlines, and graphic design can make a huge difference on your marketing success. Make your content compelling. And make it look professional. If it looks dated and ugly, and if your headlines are sloppy, no one will be enticed to consume the content.

Putting It All Together

The value in the home you build is not in the structure, but in the value of the family who lives there. The value is not in the work you create in marketing, but in how it impacts the lives of your customers.

Written by Ryan Scott / April 17, 2015

is the Inbound Marketing Artist at Lean Labs. His marketing experience ranges from colleges to SMBs, and tech startups. When not marketing, he's sure to be enjoying something nerdy.

Articles by Ryan Scott