Social is just one component of a well-balanced inbound strategy
This post originally appeared on April 4, 2012. It has been updated to reflect current inbound marketing practices. Enjoy!
If I could eat a Facebook "Like", then I would look exactly like the late Chris Farley. "Likes" are great, but they aren't enough to keep the lights on and the doors open. Successful online marketing is more than just a strong social media presence; although that is definitely a large component, social is only one component. Incorporating social media into your inbound marketing strategy will keep the pantry filled with leads and customer conversions.
Search Engine Optimization
Although SEO is ever-changing, it remains a critical component of your inbound marketing strategy. Obtaining high placement in organic search rankings on the major search engines is a vital component for most businesses seeking to have inbound marketing success. By placing keywords in prime on-page locations (page title, URL, H1 tags, image file names and page content), you will be on your way to boosting your rankings.
The Google search algorithm continues to evolve; in fact, Google's Panda 4.1 update placed an emphasis on content quality over quantity. This update reiterated Google's preference for fresh content that is relevant to a user’s search over high-volume posts with mediocre content. Businesses often struggle with consistently publishing relevant content, which limits the site’s ability to increase organic search rankings, create a connection with visitors and generate new leads. Businesses that produce fresh and valuable content on a consistent basis will reap the rewards of inbound marketing and the search engines.
Tip: Content Creation covers more channels than just blogging (videos, ebooks, white papers, photos (Pinterest), podcast, etc).
Write for Your Customers & Search Engines
When creating what HubSpot deems remarkable content, there are two objectives to be effective:
- Create authority with your visitors by using your industry expertise to educate and teach your target audience. One of the first steps in selling is to build a relationship with a prospective client. It is imperative to your sales funnel that your visitors trust you as an authority before they trust you and build a relationship with you. Once you have a relationship, they will purchase.
- The only way visitors will find you is if you have done a good job of optimizing your content for search engines. Start with a great page title and meta description that includes a long-tail keyword phrase that is relevant to and used in your content. Optimized content--regardless of its format--must be designed for search engines to easily find it and rank it.
Your best piece of content will sit unclicked like a Mac Book in the middle of the Sahara if you have not created a great CTA (Call to Action) for it. We all want our visitors to take action that pushes them down the sales funnel and creates more brand loyalty with our business. The fundamental place to start is with a well-designed CTA that is clearly placed above the fold on your site. Once the visitor has obtained your killer content, place a few more calls to action inside of the content to draw them even closer to your brand and to the bottom of the funnel.
Get a leg up on your competition and leverage social media within your inbound marketing strategy. The key element to separate your business from your competitors in social is to engage your community and be active. Your competitors are probably spamming their followers and fans with marketing links, pics, and messaging. Social media is never about you. It is always about your community. Ask questions. Retweet. Like. Comment. Be yourself and not your company persona. Social engagement will enable you to grow your reach and the relationships with your community.
You Can’t Eat a “Like”
One of the four pillars of inbound marketing is to analyze and improve. One of the great components of inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing is virtually every channel is measurable. Business owners and Marketers must use metrics from all inbound channels to track their ROI and improve each element. You can’t eat a “Like” (via Chris Brogan) means that the number of Facebook fans you have will not put food on your table. What will put food on your table is the number of new customers your Facebook CTAs and content pushes through your sales funnel. A/B testing for CTAs and landing Pages, lead conversion rates, conversion assists, PPC click thru rates, social media mentions and ebook downloads can all be tracked via inbound marketing. Have ongoing conversations with your sales team or business owner to continue to improve.