Inbound Marketing: A Cost-Effective Strategy for SMB Marketers
January 22, 2013 6 Comments
If there’s one thing that holds back most small business marketers, it is tight budgets. Outbound marketing events like trade shows, direct mail and telemarketing are extremely expensive. At the same time, they do not have enough metrics built in to calculate return on investment. Digital marketing is like a knight on a white horse. It offers everything that a marketer could dream of: brand promotion, conversation, business leads, easy entry and exit routes and low costs. With that in mind, here are five easy tactics for successful inbound marketing despite low budgets and small teams.
1. Blog to exist or exist to blog: 2013 is the year to start what you have been holding off on before now—blogging for your business. Yes, Google has introduced changes in its algorithm yet again, which means there are no quick-fixes like black-hat search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to bring a ton of prospects to your website in no time. The new approach for SEO is to create content that is engaging, interesting and relevant. Blogging is one of the best ways to ensure your website has content that reflects latest trends, industry updates and market dynamics. Such material will attract visitors to your website in droves. It enriches the top of your sales funnel because prospects searching for information about your industry will find your posts on search engine results pages and click through to your site.
After setting up the blog, it’s time to start posting. Topics could range from products in development to employee experiences working at your company to interesting observations and developments taking place in your industry. By interacting with clients and your sales and customer service teams, you could gather questions that you answer in your blog posts. For example, last week someone asked me how could he market his brand on a shoestring budget and here I am answering his question using digital marketing.
Here are the numbers:
Number of average blog posts per month: 4
Total hours spent on researching and writing: 16 to 20 hours per month
ROI: constant influx of inquiries and leads
2. Provide factual references to potential customers: If I visit a business website for the first time, I would first like to know about projects the company has completed in the past and its clients. So you can convert unsure prospects into hot leads by featuring case studies on your website. Well-written case studies combine masterful story-telling with carefully researched facts, detailed analysis and meaningful solutions to problems that draw in readers.
Case studies benefit businesses by:
- Positioning organizations as credible solutions providers
- Highlighting expertise and industry knowledge
- Sharing benefits of products/services
- Communicating best practices and lessons learned
- Establishing that companies have proactively addressed critical business needs
Customer testimonials play a critical role by giving a stamp of reality to your claims. They also show how much clients trust your company when they say, “We have been using their services since past ten years,” which is a great motivator for visitors who are still trying to make chooses.
3. Offer product trials: Once prospects have found their way to your site, you need to give them reasons to share information that will allow you to ultimately convert them into leads. The easiest way to do this is to offer free product trials or eBooks in exchange for details. This is done very effectively by Hubspot, which offers eBooks on many of their solutions.
eBooks are much more elaborate than blog posts because they have more examples, graphs and charts to make information understandable and compelling. Because the word limit is much higher for eBooks, you can incorporate multiple perspectives and approaches.
Product trials let potential customers test for a limited period of time with basic functionality. They give your audiences a taste of products or services, with the hope they will like them and come back for full-fledged purchases.
4. Implement visual calls-to-action: Visits to your website are useless if potential customers are not directed to pages with related content and blog posts that answer their questions. For example, the digital services page on our website has anchor text pointing visitors to our blog posts on the same subjects. Similarly, you could benefit if your social media activity is integrated on your website, as ongoing conversations are a big draw for visitors to share their opinions and eventually make business inquiries.
Here is a Twitter engagement blurb on the koozai.com website.
5. Measure your social media performance: Many of us indulge in long hours of discussions trying to prove that social media is bringing value to our businesses. If you ask me, the best way to check is to simply measure it!
Conversation rate = # of audience comments (or replies) per post
As Avinash says, “One beautiful thing . . . you can measure this on every social channel on the planet. Blog. Twitter. Facebook. Google Plus. YouTube.”
By following the conversations that generate bigger responses, you will be able to determine which stories impact your audience, where your brand touches them, which geographies are attuned to your topics and which groups on LinkedIn like to connect and respond to your discussions. This gives you a deeper understanding of your audience, knowledge about your brand’s strengths and weaknesses and direction on how to provide value to your followers and the industry.
What other marketing tactics and ROI calculation methods do you use to get maximum branding mileage on a tight budget?