A 2013 Approach to Inbound Marketing

Online marketing is becoming increasingly exciting. As Google rolls out updates promoting quality over spam, we as marketers can really start to earn our job titles. Whether that’s through digital PR, content marketing or modern link building, the opportunities for us have never been more diverse.

online marketing

Now the search engines are saying “We don’t want you to build for us. We want you to build for your users.” So our old methods of link building and keyword density have been squeezed until there’s barely any value left. We need new ones.

As the focus is now on quality, it’s no longer search engine optimisation. It’s more like ‘search user impressing’. We’re out to impress the search users to click on our websites and be so amazed that they want to talk about it. That’s when the search engines will stand up and take notice.

A holistic approach

If you’re just doing guest blogging or just doing PR, you’ll quickly find a glass ceiling waiting for you. Why? Because Google can see in your link profile that you’re doing SEO.

There are countless blogs out there which demonstrate that regular activity from a single activity source, particularly when it comes to guest blogging, can lead to diminishing returns.

It’s not enough any more to do one thing. More than that, there are so many options available to you, why would you stick with one?

But before getting into that though, you need to get the foundations right first.

The foundation

Loads of companies read about SEO and rush straight to tags and link building without realising their site is actually the meat of the marketing sandwich. The smell of it might draw you in, the contents could be appealing to the eye, but it’s the meat you taste. And that’s what will make you decide to take another bite.

So make your meat amazing using these four essential ingredients:

  • Spend time writing brilliant copy. Ensure it speaks directly to the user. Be human in your tone – none of this “We’ve been doing this for years” nonsense. Always highlight the benefits right from the H1.

Take these two headlines, for example:

”We provide discounts on everything”  vs”You’ll never have to pay full price again”

Which is more persuasive? If you say the top one, there’s a 90s finance corporation somewhere just dying to have you on their copy team.

  • Get your structure sorted too. Don’t have category pages covering two entirely different products. Keep things simple and straightforward.
  • Ensure the imagery and design of your site captures what you’re offering, as well as being attractive and appealing. Don’t have a dull image of a workman holding a spanner when you can have a picture of him stood by the gleaming car he’s just repaired with it.
  • Work on the conversion path and checkout. Conversion rate optimisation could be the difference between a dropout and a sale, so it’s worth investing time in.

Without working on these elements, all the other inbound marketing techniques are worthless. All you could be achieving with your marketing efforts is a high bounce rate.

Your ultimate inbound marketing list

lists

A couple of standard avenues of inbound marketing plus some more outside the box ones you may not have considered yet are the essential components of your inbound marketing list that will give you an all-round ‘search user impressing’ strategy.

Guest blogging

Guest blogging has had a bit of a bad rap recently, with some critics claiming its death and others lamenting its decline in effectiveness. But if done properly, in conjunction with other inbound marketing activities, it can be a really positive tool to increase brand awareness, thought leadership and a relevant link profile.

As Jayson mentions in his post, always make sure you claim your blogs through Google+ authorship – something that will be key when Author Rank kicks in. Build yourself up as an authority and you’ll start to be recognised. Then they’ll come looking for you when they want what you sell.

Content marketing

I love content marketing. It’s such a unique and exciting part of building a brand. You get to spend your day creating stuff that people look at and go ‘wow’. And then when they read it they say “that’s so interesting”.

Better still, there are so many ways you can do it. Whether it’s an infographic, a dynamic content resource, a white paper or even an eBook, you have a huge array of formats that you can build content into. If you’re doing it to fulfil a buyer need at one of the various stages, you’re creating something that will earn links and traffic – meaning you don’t have to go out and find them. Amazing, right?

Relationship building

Your efforts shouldn’t stop once you’ve made a sale. Brand building is all about a great service. Ask people to leave reviews. Get them to send a photo of themselves with your product in, which you can then share on Facebook. Offer them social buttons at the completion screen. Write a monthly newsletter that’s interesting and informative to keep people coming back. Ask for their feedback on a new product line. Give them a voucher for the next time they shop with you.

All these things help build a relationship with the customer who has just bought from you. Don’t let the person willing to go through your whole checkout process slip away and never return. If you can give them some attention and make them feel special, they’ll come back to you every single time.

Thought leadership

You should want to be the thought leader of your industry. It’s not enough anymore to just be an average run of the mill supplier. Google doesn’t want that. They want the best, most relevant sites at the top of the results. So be it.

The best thing is, you already know everything you need to. You’re in the industry, you do it every day. You might know what the next big product is or which one is going the way of the dodo. Write about them and people will start to look to you for the next bit of news or advice you have. Once you do this, it won’t matter if you rank for ‘kitchen tables’ or ‘cabbage’, because people will be searching for you.

Social media

social media

So many businesses haven’t cottoned on to the value of social media. Either accounts are non-existent or are there primarily to roll stuff out about the company. You don’t wait by the reception desk shouting facts about your success in the hope that customers will wander in and want to learn about them. Why do it on Facebook?

Social media is there for you to be social. Talk to your customers, respond to their questions or concerns, offer giveaways and run competitions. Take the lead from companies like Skittles and Innocent who use their accounts to entertain and engage. Do the same and you’ll quickly build a loyal customer base that want to shout about you. You won’t even have to prompt.

Be helpful

Wil Reynolds is a big proponent of this. In his talk at LinkLove this year he showed the benefits of simply helping people. It’s such an underrated and forgotten tool that many online businesses don’t even consider. But when you think about it, being helpful makes perfect sense.

You remember the waiter that went out of his way to get you a table or the mechanic who changed your parking light bulbs as an extra during a service. Helpful produces more than just a positive experience. It generates loyalty, brand building and may even result in links and social mentions. Don’t do stuff just to get links. Do things to help people and the benefits will follow.

I hope these tips gave you a wider array of inbound marketing techniques to employ whether you’re a small business or an international corporation. I’m sure I’ve missed a heap, so if you have any of your own, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

Photo credit: TopRank, wikimedia & mkhmarketing, 

Author: Dave Langdale

Dave Langdale is a Creative Client Manager for Strategy Digital. He’s passionate about the evolving nature of SEO and can regularly be found trawling through the commercial waste in the skip behind Google HQ.

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