Scrape off all blistered, chipped and peeled ways of thinking, then prime yourself with passion. Now mix equal parts discipline and perseverance, pick up a fresh brush of action, and apply yourself for a durable finish coat. -- Life Lines by Bruce S. Garrabrandt
Breaking from routine is painful. It requires the same discipline as long-term investing, dieting, quitting smoking, exercise or any other major life-change that you choose to undertake. Breaking from routine is even more painful when it's a matter of survival, either personally or professionally.
Take your business' marketing strategy, for example. Small and medium-size businesses are struggling to develop a strategy with tactics that are measurable in terms of ROI.
Unless you have a Super Bowl-size advertising budget, small and mid-size businesses are wasting a tremendous amount of money on paid advertising without any long-term strategy for growth or lead generation.
If marketing "silver bullets" were a thing, we'd all be buying them. "Doing something is better than doing nothing" isn't exactly what this article is about. However, doing at least one of the following things, effectively, will yield results as long as you dig deep and do it for the long haul.
Content quality is the single most important factor for creating conversion opportunities, according to HubSpot. Without content, there would be no internet. The quality of your content will have a direct result on the quality of the traffic that visits your site.
The process is no different than a restaurant that produces high quality food year over year. Patrons will continue to come back and tell their friends. Reviewers and media sources will pick up on the popularity, and then more and more people will become fans and promoters of that restaurant.
Before creating content, be sure you know who you are creating the content for. By establishing who your ideal client is, where he/she is in the buyer’s journey, and what your business goals are, you can begin the process of serving up content that provides real value to these personas.
No one cares about your brand. They want answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. --2014 HubSpot Creating Content WIth A purpose
Change The Direction Of Your Marketing
Outbound or Inbound? It all starts here. Both have a purpose, but inbound has a much brighter future. In my article Inbound Methodology And The Death Of Cold Calling, I write about the demise of (outbound) tactics like cold-calling and how inbound is about using marketing to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention.
If you own or manage a company with fewer than 200 people, it's time to put the phones down and adopt an inbound marketing strategy to disrupt disruptive marketing tactics. If you're at all skeptical, ask yourself why there are 222+ million people on the national do-not-call registry.
Blogging & Keywords
"I don't believe in it, It doesn't work, or It's too hard," are comments we often hear from business people who have not spent at least a year and a half actively doing it.
Consistent blogging is hard. We get it. As an agency, we struggle with this too. However, when we do blog, we focus on providing serious value and abide by all best practices to ensure our articles are offered up in search results -- and they are.
All businesses can expect a slowing and ultimate drop-off in website traffic if they don't provide quality articles to their personas that seek them.
Blogging is the food that keeps the fish coming back. All digital strategies must include either written articles or video articles to attract "quality" traffic to their site. Read more in Video below.
53% of marketers say blog content creation is their top inbound marketing priority according to the 2017 State Of Inbound Report. Additionally, the report says that 1 in 10 blog posts are compounding, meaning organic search increases their traffic over time.
Keyword research is standard practice for marketing agencies and SEO firms alike. Keyword research is the practice of seeking alternative search terms or "keywords" that people enter into search engines. Keyword research is a helpful way to optimize your blog article for effective SEO so that Google can deliver your content to those seeking it.
Here is a very helpful article that provides everything you need to perform your own keyword research: The 9 Best Keyword Research Tools to Find the Right Keywords for SEO
Compelling facts about blogging:
- Companies that blog regularly have 55% more website visitors.
- Quality and compelling content will drive traffic to your website.
- Each time you write a new article and then share it to social networks to amplify your message, you've created one more indexed page on your site that search engines can serve up to those making related queries.
- Blogging builds trust with your audience and helps to establish your authority as an expert in your field.
- As your website traffic increases and you establish trust with your audience, you gain countless opportunities to convert these visitors into leads.
- The longer-term benefits of blogging are amazing. While 90% of blog article traffic will decay over time, 10% have the powerful reverse effect of growing traffic over time and are thus called compounding blog posts. Compounding blog posts have the same extraordinary power that compound interest has in the investment world.
One might argue there is a right way and a wrong way to be social. While social media doesn't discriminate, if you're looking to achieve something, there are effective and ineffective ways to use social media to build a community around you, your product, or your service.
Social networks are for brand awareness, getting involved in discussions, and proving yourself as a thought-leader and expert on certain topics. Getting "Likes and Comments" shows that you've struck a nerve. Even better, when your content is personally shared by others, you've hit the jackpot of social activity. When someone is moved enough to take your thoughts and actions and share that to his/her community, you've found a champion for your message who's community is likely to trust your article because of the trusted source that delivered it.
We once worked with a company who made a commitment to posting 3 times per week on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. That's more than what most do, however, they weren't posting any of their own content. They were only sharing other people's articles they thought would be of interest to their fan base. Is this a bad thing? In part, yes, because the result was that they spent a lot of time promoting other peoples' content and drove traffic away from their own pages.
Social sharing is one facet of a good social strategy; however, driving traffic inbound to your company pages should be the primary goal. Follow the 80/20 rule of marketing, whereby 80% of the time you're providing value by sharing your knowledge or the knowledge of others, and 20% of the time you should be building your brand and promoting the hell out of it.
What sort of content should you be creating and sharing? A new spin on the old adage says, "You are what you post." Social media audiences can be unforgiving and the consequences can ruin your credibility.
If you have cultivated a following over years, then you should know that audience already. If you're looking to build a new audience, make sure you identify what your audience will look like, then produce content that will attract that kind of persona. Provide value, solve problems and build trust. If you want to be polarizing or controversial, you will attract exactly those who feel the same way.
Most important, however, is to be consistent.
The biggest thing people don’t understand is that quality content is so important to marketing to anyone under the age of 40 right now. Anyone in that demographic discovers a business for the first time by either: (A) Google searching or (B) finding their content on social media. If you are not crushing it and focusing on the content that you put out on the most important social platforms, you’re going to become mute and obsolete in the modern day of doing business. -- Gary Vaynerchuck
For 2017 and until further notice, Video will be the big winner.
If you're not comfortable with blogging, or have trouble doing it consistently, pivot to video creation. Use the same principles written throughout this article and make video content quality your number one priority.
Simple videos that establish you and or your company as the expert in your field will resonate. The more authentic and transparent you appear, the more you will build trust and compel people to call you.
Times change quickly, however, so don't abandon your quality written strategy. This author believes that once the entire world buys into this medium, video overload will ensue and people will seek peace from the noise and return to reading.
Here are the latest stats on why video is a home run for your business:
- Video in an email leads to 200-300% increase in click-through rate.*
- Including video on a landing page can increase conversion by 80%*
- YouTube reports that mobile video consumption rises by 100% each year*
- After watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online.*
- Real Estate listings that include a video receive 403% more inquires than those without.*
- 65% of executives visit the marketer's website and 39% call a vendor after viewing a video.*
Source: 31 Must Know Video Marketing Stats. HubSpot Blog
CTAs & Landing Pages With Forms
A CTA (call-to-action) is a visual banner presenting a compelling offer you'd like to give to your website visitor. The CTA is the beginning of the lead conversion/lead generation process.
This is a sample of a live CTA that drives traffic to a landing page.
Landing pages with forms are the final piece of the marketing automation loop. If you haven't done so already, click on the CTA above, or at the bottom of this article, to see what a landing page with a form looks like.
This is where real lead generation is performed and you close the analytics loop. By offering something of enough value to the persona you wish to convert, they will gladly give you their contact information.
A sample offer could be an eBook, checklist, How-To Guide, White Paper, Case Study, infographic, and even a free consultation. Depending on the value of your offer, they may even give you additional information like phone number, industry, job title and timeline for a specific need they have, eg. Plans to redesign their website in the next 6 months.
Not everyone has the budget or skills to incorporate a landing page, however, businesses with a goal of lead generation, should be actively deploying numerous landing pages to convert visitors at varying stages of the buyers journey.
Email marketing is an integral part of lead nurturing and customer re-engagement. Remember, just because customers paid your bill, doesn't mean you should forget about them. In fact, you should do whatever you can to keep them attached to your brand, even if they only needed your product or service one time.
Email is the best way to make sure your past and existing customers will continue to sing your praises and recommend anyone who may be need of your services
VERY IMPORTANT: Sending email to people without their permission can be a dangerous thing. If they report you, your campaigns can be shut down entirely limiting your access to what could be a huge audience of opportunity.
Similar to social sharing, referrals like the following are worth their weight in gold. Use email to make sure you're showing your appreciation to those who provide those kind of leads. Keep them up to speed with your service offerings, provide helpful tips and thank them for their support. They will continue to generate more leads for you over time. Don't ever take them for granted:
The only place to get broccoli is ABC Market.
I only go to Dr. McKillop because she the most empathetic doctor in the practice.
Bob Johnson is the only guy who can fix any car you bring him.
Ads, Boosting & Organic Traffic
Ads and social boosting are classified as outbound marketing tactics. Millions are spent on ineffective and unmeasurable ads. A "billboard" ad with a phone number or website address may drive thousands of paid impressions and visits to your website, but it will not deliver quality organic traffic.
Organic traffic comes to your site not by way of paid advertising, but rather from thoughtful research where people find you because you are most likely to offer something they're in need of.
A healthy balance of both organic and paid is what businesses need to strive for. But if your business needs a shot in the arm, or you have the budget to commit to ads and boosting, then you should absolutely consider ads and boosting.
Ad strategies designed around a specific goal that target your ideal persona, can be a boon for lead generation and closing customers. An ad that speaks directly to the persona you're targeting, that offers a solution to their problem(s), is a great way to learn about what your audience is searching for and will help you to shape future ads and articles around their needs and not what "you" currently might perceive to be their needs to be.
- All marketing strategies must start with providing quality content
- Think with inbound brain and focus on attraction, not disruption
- Blogging is essential. Keyword optimized article perform even better.
- Don't take your social networks for granted. Use them for awareness and play by the rules
- Publish content on social networks that people want to share. Drive traffic back to you.
- Use landing pages with forms to convert visitors into leads.
- Nurture those leads with email campaigns that strictly adhere to best practices
- Not all ads are bad. Have a strategy with your ads and they will perform for you.
- Exclusively pushing yourself, your product or your services will surely push people away
- People want answers to their questions and solutions to their problems.
- Without Super Bowl Ad money, the only marketing "silver bullet' is consistency.
- Consistency guarantees results.