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Get Set Up to Attract Customers With Inbound Marketing

Posted byThu, Jul 18, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

Starting line small_http---www.flickr.com-photos-25533361@N00-267840340-So here we are, day one of HI’s Inbound Marketing Challenge: how close can I come to acquiring a new inbound customer in 30 days? I wanted to take this kind of scary yet liberating public step with you as an example of what happens when you commit to inbound marketing. And I also need new business.

Inbound marketing helps brands capitalize on the way people use the Internet to make buying decisions. It involves using content and online tactics to educate prospects into becoming customers.

I know this going in, that depending on how well you are set up—your social reach, database of contacts, website design and UX—acquiring inbound customers can take 3, 6, 12, 18 months? It really depends. The important thing is your belief in the results. It’s not a hard concept to buy into. It’s just a lot of work. Talk to HubSpot partners and customers: when you follow the process, you can’t help but win big. I may not land a customer in 30 days, but focus and practice will yield results pointing in the right direction.

Hoskins Interactive has a small website; I’m building the company and Web presence from the ground up. The website needs some design work, but it’s a simple site with a blog, powered by an inbound marketing platform that allows me to:

  • Publish blogs, website and landing pages.
  • Create forms and house/promote content offers.
  • Monitor and publish social media updates.
  • Manage leads/contacts.
  • Distribute emails and campaigns.
  • Review results with integrated analytics.

This is critical, having the right tools.

What is the state of your site/presence?

I have not been blogging consistently, so HI’s traffic has been slowly ramping up. I published four blogs in March, and—uh wow, this is embarrassing—one in April, one in May, one in June so far. In May 2013, HI reached 176 visitors: 91 were from direct traffic, 69 from social media. Only 8 visits came from organic search: this is a huge area to focus on.

I am active on social media, so it’s not surprising that my highest conversion rate, 2.5 percent, came via social media. I have two content offers, a top of the funnel and a middle of the funnel (I’ll explain that later) and seven leads.

So how will these stats change if I blog three to five times per week, create two offers per month, remain social and start a lead nurturing email campaign? Let’s try it and see.

Here are the things I thought about/worked on day 1. These first steps could help you:

Commit, check your mindset, rethink your approach.

Believe it will work: You know how athletes visualize a play, a race or challenge before they actually take action? I think that’s pretty essential with inbound marketing, because you are embracing a methodology that touches every aspect of your business. It will shift how you work internally and externally. Cue the theme of Rocky; Marcus Sheridan‘s success story just inspires.   

Invest in your company first, before billable work. Traditionally, I have put client work above HI’s and then I never get around to writing blogs or creating enough content. What a disservice to the company I am building and current clients! My blog is a way to communicate 24×7. It’s a place where my knowledge is always accessible.

Starting my day drafting a blog is like being on an airplane and putting my oxygen mask on before helping a child. You can’t be of help if you aren’t helping yourself and sharing what you know or have learned.

Manage your energy and brainpower.

I am a quick, creative thinker, excellent translator of information. Comes with being a Gemini 🙂 But the flipside of this versatility? Energy bursts. My ideas and perspective are my value-add, so I need to run a marathon with my mind, not a sprint. What to athletes do? They train and:

  • Get on a schedule.
  • Sleep: 7 hours/night.
  • Eat clean: forget sugar and caffeine—if you want energy, try the Paleo diet. You won’t eat anything fun, but you feel freakin’ fantastic.

Get organized, connected and set up.

Social media…

For news management, research: I finally realized it’s not the end of the world that Google Reader is going away. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. I started following people and news outlets in my RSS feed on Twitter. Then I created lists to make it easier to see related information. These lists also coincide with my customer personas: small businesses, marketing and sales directors, digital/marketing agencies and potential partners.

Here’s what’s great about making these lists public: you become a visible resource and gain more followers. It’s easy for clients and prospects to see information I value about topics like inbound marketing, small business issues, leadership and management ideas, sale and marketing perspective, etc. You get the picture.

For reach. Create company and personal pages for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google + and any niche sites. Whoops. I’m missing HI pages for two of the four. How many do you have? Time to get cracking and fix this.

It may seem excessive to have both personal and brand accounts on these platforms, but consider this: potential and current customers, investors, partners, employees and employers are looking at and for these spaces. Whatever your motivation or current role, having a personal social presence is job security, business development, reputation management, recruitment, prospect magnet. The company brand presence on social platforms is expected, and it’s a powerful customer service resource.

To connect: Connect to friends, associates, customers, vendors on all social platforms. Check email lists, address books. You probably favor one or two social sites over the others—same here. But this is about building a wide network that buoys your brand online. I am pretty connected personally, but HI could use a boost socially. Another thing to work on this week.

To understand. The truth is, you can learn a lot about target audiences and critical questions they are asking by searching social media groups and posts. Here are problems you can help solve, blog topics for the taking. Twitter is a godsend for this. Check out hashtags and see what you can find out. I’m brushing up on sales, marketing, management/leadership, inbound, small business questions/issues. It’s a lot of research, but this is how you create content that resonates with your audience.

Join online directories, business and industry associations.

Online and offline, every industry has places where the community convenes to find help, resources, people. Is your company listed online? Hm, another area of opportunity. I’m also really liking the more informal in-person Meetup groups—great fun meeting potential partners and prospects through these types of events.

Check out your site, make any fixes, cite credentials.

The website improvements I have in mind will have to wait. But before I become a publishing machine and traffic arrives en masse, a once over is a good idea to see if there are glaring errors. Also a good idea? Adding HI’s certified HubSpot partner badge.

Consider referencing customer testimonials and ratings—all are are powerful indicators of your good work. Let them sell you!

Speaking of working smarter, check out HI’s free SEO Checklist and get connected to ideal customers faster.

Terra Hoskins is The Boss at inbound marketing consultancy Hoskins Interactive. She plans to fail big, win big and work with fascinating people along the way.  

* photo credit: gatogrunge via photopin cc