Inbound Marketing: 3 Steps to Turn Strangers into Customers

inbound marketingMy sophomore year in college I was introduced to the idea of inbound marketing in on of my business classes. I was instantly fascinated with the concept of aligning a company’s content with potential customer’s interests, rather than pushing out content that can be not only irrelevant to the receiver, but also annoying and forceful. I was lucky to find that three of the most important parts of a successful inbound marketing methodology, an industry relevant blog, effective social media posting, and search engine optimization (SEO), were all areas I was interested in.

Since then, my fascination with inbound marketing has grown immensely and is part of the communications and marketing field that I hope to pursue after graduation. In the following paragraphs, I will discuss how to use blogging, social media posting, and SEO to create an effective inbound marketing plan that will drive viewers, who will hopefully become customers, to your webpages.

Blogging

Blogging is one of the easiest ways to drive potential customers to your sites because it is often shared and has links to your website and social media pages and thus creates a ton of internal web traffic. You might be thinking that your particular business has nothing of interest to blog about… think again. At Live Oak Communications we created a blog for one of our clients, Gregory Grier, an office furniture company, that has increased its website views by almost 50% since its inception two years ago. It has brought numerous viewers to its page who eventually became customers, all by posting once a week about an industry relevant topic such as making small spaces appear larger and de-cluttering a messy area. The Marketing People released a list of 10 things for businesses to write about.  Some of my favorites are:

  1. “How-To” Articles- these are some of the most popular blog posts and can be relevant in nearly every industry like “how to optimize your page using Google Ad Words” or “how to make the perfect grilled cheese”
  2. Interviews with staff members- this is something my current internship site does which makes the company seem more personal by sharing the interests and background of its employees
  3. How you’ve helped customers- use these blog posts to build trust with your audience by using testimonials of how you’ve helped a variety of customers with different problems- these testimonials will directly correlate to the potential customer’s needs

Social Media

Extraordinary content is at the heart of any successful inbound marketing strategy and social media is one of the easiest ways to not only share this content frequently, but also show a human side of your brand by interacting with customers. While writing a white paper about inbound marketing my sophomore year in my Business Communications class, I was surprised to find out that studies in 2012 found that an astonishing 77 percent of B2C companies and 43 percent of B2B companies acquired customers from Facebook and 34 percent of marketers have generated leads using Twitter. In my last blog post, I discussed how to create effective corporate social media. Some ideas for content that I suggested include:

  1. Tips and tricks- people are always searching online for ways to do things or for hacks for everyday tasks- give them this information and you will gain their trust
  2. Industry relevant news- show potential customers that you are informed and relevant in your respective field
  3. Job or internship openings- post these on social media because those following you are generally the one’s most invested in your company
  4. Non-promotional material such as volunteer work or employee birthday postings that show the “human” side of your business
  5. Promotional material such as product information or releases

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the process of optimizing a webpage for search engine results. How often would you Google “best TV for you money” and scroll past the first page? That is the exact purpose of SEO- to move up your webpages in search engine results based on keyword searches. In my previous white paper I mentioned a few easy ways to increase your SEO including:

1.Include keywords you are attempting to optimize throughout your content and in the URL

2.Utilize social media sharing buttons on your site to increase sharing

3.Consistently update your page with new and interesting content and add this information to social bookmarking sites, such as Digg and Stumbleupon

4. Use clear headings that make your website easy to navigate

Inbound marketing is not a “thing of the future,” it is something you can start incorporating in your content strategy today. Customers are tired of traditional outbound marketing strategies that overwhelm them with useless overloads of information and want to seek out relevant, engaging content online. Inbound marketing allows you to share noteworthy content online and pull strangers, who hopefully will become valuable customers, to your webpages. So consider adding an inbound component to your marketing strategy as a way to engage potential customers in a new, appropriate, and captivating way.

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