Marketing is an ever-changing world. Understanding this world will be what sets one individual apart from another. Written by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, Inbound Marketing is a revised book that launched the very same marketing movement. Tailored specifically to wrap your mind around the concept of inbound marketing, this book covers an array of material that sheds insight on its impact and how you can get a firm grasp on it yourself.
For the marketer that’s on the go with very little time on their hands, this article will highlight the key points of the book so that even YOU can develop a basic comprehension of inbound marketing and how it can help you jump right into this competitive world on equal footing.
Part I: Inbound Marketing
Chapter 1: Shopping Has Changed . . . Has Your Marketing?
Traditional outbound marketing techniques consisted of email blasts, telemarketing, direct mail, TV, radio, print advertising, and trade shows (or expos) in order to reach their potential buyers. After twenty years, people became adept at blocking out these archaic forms of outbound marketing. Rather than reaching out to potential customers, inbound marketing pulls them in.
Search engines, blogospheres, and social media were the three primary forms of interaction people were involved in. The internet was a gateway to new horizons, and it was evident that this new frontier was the solution marketers needed to match the way their prospects shop for products.
Chapter 2: Is Your Website a Marketing Hub?
It’s not enough to get people to visit your website once. You have to develop a collaborative, living, breathing hub for your marketplace. What people think about your website will determine the amount of traffic it gets. Give them a reason not only to visit, but to stick around.
Really Simple Syndication (or RSS for short) allows the readers you gain to consume our content through a convenient feed. Subscribers get updates immediately, and through social media, this is a huge deal which will be highlighted again later on.
Don’t spend too much time worrying about how your website looks. Your form of attraction will be the content you come up with and your subscribers will consume that through email, RSS and social media sites. You can save thousands by holding off on website redesigns.
Chapter 3: Are You Worthy?
To make the transition from outbound marketing to inbound marketing, you have to “get found” by your customers nowadays. This is done by having a remarkable value proposition. The phrase by Arnoldo Hax, “Watch your competitors, but don’t follow them,” comes to mind.
There are two distinct methods to follow. The first refers to revolutionizing an existing idea by building upon an untapped market and providing something everyone will choose over something else. The second refers to creating a winning strategy that makes you the best in your field or category. You either innovate or dominate.
Part II: Get Found by Prospects
Chapter 4: Create Remarkable Content
Remarkable content attracts links from other websites and easily spreads on social media. Attracting customers with new content is equivalent to paid advertising. Try out different types of content, from blog articles, to white papers, videos to webinars, and podcasts to webcasts. Find what works for YOU and stick with it.
Never hold back. You want to avoid saving remarkable content; rather, offer all of it upfront. The good thing about advancements in marketing today is that rather than measuring your movement in the marketing world through the width of your wallet, you do it by the width of your brain. Keep the content coming and keep it consistent.
Chapter 5: Get Found in the Blogosphere
Blogging will help establish your company as a thought leader in your market. A blog will change your website from an online brochure to a living, breathing hub with a way to engage with you versus being hit with a premature sales pitch.
Whatever platform you choose, make sure it’s your own domain. Allow people to leave comments and subscribe to your blog via RSS and email. Encourage readers to leave comments, especially if they disagree with you. Create content people will look forward to reading. In addition to informative articles, give your readers links to relevant articles.
Don’t be afraid to let others write on your blog. This exposes your company to thought-leaders in the industry flattered by your invitation.
Now that we’ve gotten our foot in the door, the content begins to ramp up. The next three chapters are a lot meatier than the previous ones. We’ll include every bit of important information on the following chapters while condensing it at the same time for your convenience. (Remove the above paragraph if we’re going to use the tl;dr versions of Chapter 6, Chapter 7, and Chapter 8. All tl;dr versions will be found at the end of each chapter in the same blue text for easy locating)
Chapter 6: Get Found in Google
People on Google are actually looking for something. If what they’re looking for pertains to you business, you want to be found.
There are two kinds of results: organic and paid. Paid results are when organizations bid for placement in Google search results by purchasing Google AdWords, a pay per click (PPC) advertising program. Organic or natural results are based on the quality of the content and what Google believes would be the most valuable pages for their users.
To succeed with search engine optimization (SEO), you need to understand how Google works. Google scours the internet looking for web pages, storing these pages in its index. It has software that processes user searches and finds the best matching web pages from its index.
Google needs to crawl and index your page, and it has to be better than other possible candidates for you to compete for a top spot. Ranking is based on relevance and authority. SEO is done well when you produce worthy content, so picking the right words is key (pun intended).
Here are four tips on writing great page titles:
Put your most important keywords in your Page Title
Earlier words in the Page Title carry more weight than later word, so put your most important words first.
Make sure your keywords are not only important to Google, but to the actual humans you’re writing to.
When picking the Page Title tag for your home page, consider putting your company name at the end of the title.
Similar to the page title, your meta description tag is information about your page. Keep it short (one to two sentences) and no more than 160 characters because Google truncates long descriptions. Make it unique and use your keywords in your description.
Make your domain name unique. This is what pops up on all of your URLs. Use important keywords in your heading, but keep it short. Include images on your website as well, but limit yourself because Google can’t see it.
To get better rankings in Google, we’re going to want to get inbound links, and to get those we’re going to need to produce remarkable content. You can also request links from other people by asking them, but it is imperative that it is a legitimate link that will count towards SEO.
There are four factors that affect link value:
The authority of the page that the link is on.
Whether the link is a no-follow (a site that does not wish to pass SEO credit to the target page) or a do-follow (a site that wishes to pass SEO credit to the target page).
The number of other links on the page linking to you.
The anchor text of the link, which is what the user sees on the page that is clickable.
There are several ways to get your site banned by Google. Here are some tips to avoid getting banned.
Avoid link farms, websites created for the primary purpose of creating a high number of links to a given web page.
Provide unique content over automated or duplicated works.
Avoid stuffing keywords to overpopulate certain portions of a web page thinking it will increase the chances of Google ranking the page for that keyword.
Never cloak (using different website content to Google’s search spider than what is deliver to human users). This is one of the most reliable ways to get a site banned.
Do not hide text on a web page, like making text the same color as the background.
Similar to cloaking, this method delivers different content to Google by redirects humans to a different page.
tl:dr: People on Google are actually looking for something. If what they’re looking for pertains to you business, you want to be found. There are two kinds of results: organic and paid. The kind of result you want to be depends on your wallet, but we’ll go with being an organic result for now.
To succeed with search engine optimization (SEO), Google needs to crawl and index your page, and it has to be better than other possible candidates for you to compete for a top spot. Ranking is based on relevance and authority. SEO is done well when you produce worthy content, so picking the right words is key (pun intended).
Create a unique domain name and request legitimate links from other people. Avoid habits like link farming, duplicated works, cloaking and hidden text.
Chapter 7: Get Found in Social Media
Social media is THE platform you want to be on. It’s a great way to reach and engage potential customers. Some examples of social networking include Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Other examples of social news and discovery sites include reddit and StumbleUpon. Each has its own uses, but most share the ability to create a profile.
When joining the social media scene, picking a username is crucial. Here are some tips:
Wherever possible, use your real name for our username.
Make your username simple and clean. Stay away from names that play clever games.
Don’t include numbers in your username; people will think your account is spam.
Pick a name that’s available on all or most of the major social sites so that you can have a consistent name across as many sites as possible.
Upload a nice photo of yourself. This image is an important part of your online identity. Tell the world about yourself with a short, one-or or two-sentence description. Don’t be afraid to have a link to your website to generate traffic.
Your presence on a social media site like Facebook rewards you with reach. You want your message and story to reach as many people as possible, and Facebook is one of the best methods out there. Create a Facebook business page and link it to your personal page. Consider buying social ads on Facebook.
Twitter is a microblogging platform where you essentially write an article in 140 characters or less. Quite the feat, but it’s more than doable. Create an account on Twitter and build a following. You’re more than welcome to follow others associated with your industry. Try to avoid using automated Twitter bots in an effort to maintain an authentic engagement with your audience.
LinkedIn is a website for professional social networking. Unlike Facebook, it’s all about business. Like most social networks, LinkedIn also allows you to connect to others. LinkedIn groups are essentially online communities of people interested in the same topic. Start a group. Promote it through your available channels and buy ads if you have to. Use your group to mass communicate your website or blog.
Google+ is Google’s answer to Facebook and Twitter. It operates in the same manner and instead of having groups like LinkedIn, it has “Circles.” Google+ also offers Hangouts, a free video-conferencing feature that supports up to 10 people. Create a Google+ page for your business and promote it the same way you would across other social media platforms.
Here are five steps that will help you get going on Google+:
Create a Google+ page, you can start here: www.google.com/+/business/ .
Pick a category that your company falls under.
Complete your profile.
Claim your vanity URL.
Use Google+ buttons to gain more followers.
YouTube isn’t just about hilarious videos. You can find different types of popular videos including “How To,” “Expert Interviews,” recordings from conferences, and even funny commercials. Set up an account for your business. Record conversations with some of your best customers, find experts in your industry and record interviews with them, or create how-to videos.
Here are four additional suggestions for getting maximum use from YouTube:
Experiment! You won’t know what kinds of videos will engage your potential audience until you try.
Don’t try to be perfect or overly polished. You don’t need a professional video producer to create content for your business.
Don’t invest too much in expensive equipment. Digital cameras and microphones are fine. Even the camera on your smartphone is good enough for most purposes.
YouTube has a feature allowing you to add captions and clickable areas to your video. Use these to link your videos together.
StumbleUpon is known as a social discovery site that helps you discover new content that you might like. When you click on the “Stumble!” button, you’re automatically taken to a different web page from the one you’re on based on what you like and how popular the page is with the community (based on an upvote/downvote system).
To use StumbleUpon successfully, use these tips:
Get to know all the basic categories available and select ones that are most relevant to your profile.
When first starting, resist the temptation to submit your own content. Simply use StumbleUpon to find interesting content. Upvote things you like.
Begin making friends. These users have shared interests with you and are more likely to upvote your content.
Consider running a small paid advertising campaign on StumbleUpon.
tl;dr: Social media is THE platform you want to be on if you want to reach and engage potential customers. Some examples of social networking include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Other examples of social news and discovery sites include Reddit and StumbleUpon with YouTube crossing boundaries between social and entertainment media outlets.
Each has its own uses, but most share the ability to create a profile of your own that allows you to connect with others and share content. Most of these outlets also allow you to create your own page for your business that you can promote on your own or with the help of paid advertisement.
Chapter 8: Visual Content
Initially dubbed “YouTube for PowerPoint,” the community tends to gather around presentations. It’s not uncommon for a popular SlideShare to receive tens of thousands of views, particularly if the site features the presentation on its home page. If a marketer inserts a lead capture form into a presentation, SlideShare can import those leads into the organization’s marketing database.
Visual.ly is both a marketplace that matches companies with data visualization professionals as well as a “visual storytelling” community, where this type of content can be published, discovered, discussed, and shared. If you produce visual content, you may wish to share it in the Visual.ly community to have active members discover your content. Visual.ly’s authority will help your content rank well in Google.
Pinterest has been a smash hit social network where people share, curate, and discover images and video by “pinning” them to a pinboard. You should begin by adding a “Pin It” button to your website. That makes it easy for people to share things from your site on their pinboards. The key to doing well on Pinterest s to find incredibly great images.
Instagram is a massively popular photo-sharing and social networking service for mobile devices that lets people take photos, apply creative filters to them, and then share them on various social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Instagram accepts advertising, Use visual content to amplify your message.
Snapchat allows you to share photos that vanish within a few seconds. Brands like the frozen yogurt chain, 16 Handles, and Taco Bell have effectively used Snapchat to promote their brand through coupon giveaways and visuals. It’s another option your business could consider taking in terms of promoting your brand through visual content.
You have six seconds to tell your story. When it comes to advertising, Vine shares a similar time window. The extremely limited nature of Vine forces people to pay attention. You can post”behind the scenes” videos of life at your office, quick product demos, or clips of a speaker to promote an upcoming webinar.
tl;dr: Continuing with social media, there are several others that are more heavily focused on visual content. Marketers tend to insert lead capture forms on their presentations with SlideShare importing those leads into the organization’s marketing database.
Visual.ly is a great way to publish, discover, discus and share content all the while helping your content rank well with Google. Pinterest plays a similar role except that it focuses solely on image sharing. Instagram also focuses on images but shares similarities with Snapchat and Vine in where all three produces visual content through 6-15 second videos.
Chapter 9: Software and Tools as Content
A strong project plan for a free tool should include a clear definition of the target audience, a strong problem statement outlining the problem the tool will solve for the target audience, core features needed in the initial version of the tool, and a project timeline and milestones.
Another approach is to build a free tool on an existing platform with its own audience. Remember, your free tool is part of your marketing funnel. If a tool isn’t working, shut it down. Don’t waste any time and money on something that isn’t working. Don’t forget to create a promotional campaign to support the launch of the tool to the public.
Part III: Converting Customers
Chapter 10: Convert Visitors into Leads
Now that you know how to get visitors to your website, you need to convert these visitors into qualified leads and eventually paying customers. A call-to-action that offers remarkable content like webinars, white papers or reports, an ebook, a 30-minute expert consultation, research studies, a free class, demo or trial offer are great ways to get information in exchange.
Your call-to-action should begin with a verb and tell the visitor what action to take. Some examples include “Test Yourself Against Your Peers,” “Get Your Grade,” and “Win Our Contest.” Never use “Contact us.”
Chapter 11: Convert Prospects into Leads
Your landing page is the final step in converting a visitor to a lead. It’s important that you match the content on your landing page with the content on your call-to-action. In order to increase ROI, your landing page should project a professional image, including professional design, a well-written copy, and other factors.
Your landing page has one function: to get people to fill out your form! Including a lot of images can work against you because they don’t improve your Google rankings. Keep your page simple. Ignore long forms and keep them short and simple. Avoid asking for sensitive information and never require your prospects to go elsewhere to find information.
Chapter 12: Convert Leads to Customers
Before converting leads to customers, grade them based on how they found you, how often they visited your website, if they’ve completed a call-to-action, and if they answered your questions on your forms.
Nurture your leads by maintaining an on-going communication and dialog with these leads. Include different segments for every grade of lead if you have to. Make sure to include a compelling call-to-action. Leads in your nurturing program should want to hear from you.
Part IV: Make Better Decisions
Chapter 13: Making Better Marketing Decisions
Marketers have a very long “to-do” list, and choosing which to cross off and which to add will be easier if you create a marketing funnel to help you make marketing investment decisions. First, come up with a list of sources/campaigns/inputs a the top of your funnel that create “prospects” for your products and services.
After you’ve determined which sources/campaigns/inputs drive prospects, figure out the “leads,” or those interested in your product or service. The next stage is “opportunity”. You are advocating a purchase for your company. The last level should be the “customer” step, where someone has purchased your product or service.
Chapter 14: Picking and Measuring Your People
This chapter highlights the kind of people you want to hire through a framework called DARC:
D = Hire Digital Citizens – Citizens highly adept at using and navigating the internet.
A = Hire for Analytical Chops – People that can analyze data for patterns and insights.
R = Hire for Web Reach – Someone that already has their roots planted in a wider web.
C = Hire Content Creators – Individuals with great writing skills or remarkable content.
Chapter 15: Picking and Measuring a PR Agency
PR agencies have two core competencies. They have a network of relationships with print media people and they are efficient at interrupting print media people in an attempt to get your new offerings in front of them. If your company is full of DARC, you might not get the maximum value from a PR agency because your company does not have the holes to fill.
When selecting a PR, you have to consider three different things. First of all, you want a PR that’s a fantastic salesperson. Second, make sure they’ve taken the time to invest in better marketing for themselves. Lastly, ask for the names for some of their clients and run their clients through Website Grader and note their client’s Website Grades relative to your own.
Chapter 16: Watching Your Competition
Tools to keep tabs on competitors:
Website Grade – Run your website alongside your competitors’ to see how well you do.
Inbound Links – An increase in the number of links to a site can indicate more traction.
Facebook Fans – Keep track of your competitor’s fans and followers. Gain your own.
Compete – Compare and estimate the traffic of your site versus your competitors.
SiteAlerts – See numbers of mentions you get online and the keywords that drive traffic.
Buzz – Google your brand and your competitors and gauge each others’ “buzz.”
Chapter 17: On Commitment, Patience, and Learning
Learning inbound marketing is no easy task. With its learning curve, it takes time and patience. You’ll need to test the waters for a couple of months to see what works best for you and your company. You’ll come across times where you’ll want to give up, but only those that persevere will make it through. If you haven’t started yet, get started today before your competitors do.
Chapter 18: Why Now?
Outbound marketing is winding down and people have become more efficient at blocking marketing interruptions, turning to the web for their learning and shopping needs. Marketers have to adapt to this shift in order to convert creativity, content, and conversation into valuable customers.
This kind of a shift in marketing poses a grand opportunity for new entrants into markets and an amazing threat to incumbent leaders. New companies with remarkable content can take advantage of this ever-changing landscape to reach the top. Now that you have a fairly firm grasp on the concept of inbound marketing, it’s your time to shine in the industry.