Optimizing Your Content and Social Media Efforts
Inbound experts agree that SEO is a vital component of the entire marketing process. In our last article we examined how to optimize your inbound program before you ever even write your first word.
Things like site organization, key word planning and creating buyer personas are all part of inbound and include SEO in order to work.
In this installment of SEO for inbound, we will be considering how SEO affects your inbound efforts once you start writing content for your website.
Your blog, your messages on social media and things like your landing pages and call-to-action pages each have a role in your inbound program and without SEO will not drive traffic to your site. In addition, let’s take an intense look at how SEO and your content process affects lead generation.
An entire science has evolved around creating content within your inbound strategy. Good marketing skills involve creating content for your blog, as well as different content with special types of visuals and wording for an offer. Then there is action language that pulls a qualified lead through the conversion part of the funnel with a CTA or an email.
Content is what makes inbound exciting and captivating for both your visitor and search engines. It is where your company can begin to bring in and nurture leads to buy what you have sell.
Using keywords as well as a mixture of psychology and methodology for each stage of your buying process is what makes the heart of a marketing expert beat fast and furious. As we stated in our first article on SEO and inbound, there are several points of view on what makes up the lead nurturing process. For argument’s sake, we are going to begin with the offer.
Considered the beginning of the buying process by many, the offer attracts a visitor to your website. Maybe they were brought to your site by an email promising a download, or a social media message promoting a checklist.
The offer must contain something of value and is different for each stage of the lead nurturing process.
Would you like to buy a widget?
TOP OF THE FUNNEL OFFERS
A first time visitor to your site who has been attracted there by your offer is usually in the research stage of the buying process. They are not ready to make a purchase. In fact, 98% of users who visit your site are never going to come back, much less give you their personal information.
The offer that a visitor receives at the top of the funnel should be mostly informational or educational, as well as concentrate on your industry as a whole. This is not a good time to point out the advantages of your product and price points.
For example, if you are selling widgets, a top of the funnel offer might be an educational white paper on how widgets are changing the way people do something. It could be a downloadable checklist of the top reasons why everyone needs a widget (not just your widget). Then there is the greatly loved eBook where you might segment the information you give based on where the visitor/lead is in the funnel.
You can also experiment with videos, free trials, discounts and newsletters. They all work, as long as the content is rich and has value.
I just saw a suggested post on Facebook about widgets.When I clicked on it, there was a cool offer; a checklist for organizing my Widgets.
When you are creating your offer think about what a potential visitor/buyer is thinking about when they are doing research on your widget and answer those questions for them in the top of the funnel offer. Use your keywords and action language that compel them.
The actual language you use varies. Unfortunately there isn’t a magic ball that will tell you exactly which words to use. This is where A/B testing comes in. Testing is a great way to identify which wording provides the most click-throughs for your offer.
MIDDLE OF THE FUNNEL OFFERS
A visitor who is in the middle of your funnel is most likely a qualified lead by now. They have given you some of their information (via the landing page that we will talk about later) or they have found your site using different key words that signal they are closer to making a buying decision.
There still needs to be lots of value with a middle of the funnel offer, however you can ask for a bit more information before you give it away too.
At this point in the buying process, a person is assessing the alternatives they have. They are gathering information about the solutions available for their type of problem. If they are on your website, then they are evaluating YOUR solution vs. your competitor’s. This is where the language you use in content gets a little more explanatory than educational.
The potential customer is thinking more about making a purchase. They have evaluated several options. They are ready to ask ask more distinctive questions.
There are a couple of widget-smiths in the area. I saw a conversation about it on Facebook. That widget organization list was helpful. I have room for another widget.
It is also where search terms get a little more involved.
Which widget has the best design?
How do widgets work?
Where do I get widgets in Inboundtown?
Payment plans on widgets?
Craft your blog, offer, landing page and social media plan around the questions your potential buyer is asking.
Using your SEO keywords, a middle of the funnel offer should explain the advantages of using your product. You can still use eBooks at this stage, or delve into the webinar. Actual case studies where your product or service has been used to great gain are a great way to convert middle of the funnel visitors as well. You might also consider an actual video of your product in action.
Once again, keywords and strong action language that is A/B tested is the way to get that “click” and secure more information on your lead.
BOTTOM OF THE FUNNEL OFFERS
The lead nurturing process is critical because most people who come to your website are not ready to make a buying decision. Regrettably, most businesses do not employ any type of lead nurturing process when it comes to inbound marketing. Even more alarming is that they don’t measure their results.
When you nurture leads with great SEO optimized content, and measure as they move through the funnel, you will have actual proof of what language works and what doesn’t, as well as a growing list of qualified leads to work with to grow and expand your business.
Bottom of the funnel leads are ready to buy. At this point they need reassurance and trust, as well as some pertinent information about your product.
I am going to buy a widget today. At lunch time, I am going to sit outside and order one from my phone.
Widget Price List
These well-qualified leads need an offer that lets them know you are a trustworthy business, as well as things like
- Pricing Sheets
- Product Guidelines
- Business Cases
- Company Awards and Recognition
The offer pages that you have on your website will be different, according to your visitors and where they are in the buying process. We also suggest having different offers geared to each buyer persona and each stage of the funnel. This is a great way to include evergreen offers on your website that visitors can always come to in the future.
Building offers takes time and practice, but the more offers a website has, the better chances you have of converting that visitor into a closed sale.
An offer can’t stand on its own though. It needs other pages on a website in order to exist, breathe and invite visitors in.
The Landing Page
A well-crafted landing page will do many things for a user.
It will take them from the idea of an offer to actually receiving it. It should contain a well-placed, concisely worded and strong CTA button - make sure it stands out.
A landing page will stimulate a user mentally and visually.
There should be just one offer or purpose. Don't confuse your visitor with multiple offers and ideas, or links to different offers. Laser in on the offer, the language and the purpose.
Include other items like customer testimonials, awards and recognitions and sometimes even social media links that build trust and confidence.
Contain a form where the visitor will give some of their information to get something of value.
Have the same visuals and verbiage that got the visitor there in the first place - don’t confuse your potential customer with brand new information and graphic
Be topped by an engaging headline followed by a small amount of content that compels a reader to action immediately – like, within seconds - they NEED what you’ve got.
YOU ARE GOING TO LOVE THESE TIPS ON CLEANING YOUR NEW WIDGET
Did you know that our widgets are made from special material?
Widget-smith widgets are hand-made in Inboundtown by smiths trained for years in the craft. Your widget has taken hours to make and is one of a kind. The materials were hand-picked by company owner, Dan Widget, a fifth generation widget-smith who hails from European immigrants.
These tips on cleaning our hand-crafted widgets will help you to take care of what we hope will become a family heirloom.
Here are some great ideas from our friends at Kissmetrics on creating the perfect landing page.
Image Source: Kissmetrics.com
Each of these landing page components is going to be filled with your keyword SEO and strong action language. As with offers, your website should have several landing pages geared to different offers, different buyer personas and different stages of the lead nurturing process.
When a reader gets to your landing page, if they even read the headline you are ahead of the game. If they read your content the odds are that they are going to click on your CTA – it’d better be good. The visitor needs to know what to do next, like now, ASAP!
The words you use on your call-to-action should be short, and inspire the visitor to move through the process, because they NEED what it is you have to offer them.
This is the part of the sales process where you get them from window browsing to actually buying something.
A good call-to-action has several parts:
- Sense of Urgency
- Ease of Delivery
- A sense of connection between your company and the user
Ask questions, use numbers or statistics, be bold, use testimonials or just be yourself. Your buyer persona and your product will each determine what your call-to-action looks and feels like.
Your website will cultivate many different CTA's for various offers, landing pages and blogs. Be clever about the CTA and your lead base will increase.
The Thank You Page
Every user who actually clicks on one of your offers and gives you any of their information needs to end their experience with a heartfelt Thank You.
There are many components to a thank you page, however from an SEO standpoint, the object here is purely to delight your visitor. Yes, use your keywords. Yes, try to upsell on another offer. Yes, give your company information if that is applicable.
However a big fat thank you with one or two keywords sprinkled in will do just fine here.
Sending emails as part of your inbound efforts has come back into marketing vogue. In fact, it still remains the number one way to reach potential buyers.
The information that you collect through your landing pages, offers and call to action pages will all be critical in how you plan to set up and send emails.
Once again, lead nurturing takes center stage with email content and who you send them to. To accomplish this, your email list should be segmented and blasts sent out according to how each segment is being cultivated.
Here are a few ideas about how to divide your email list:
- Identify existing clients
- Know when to convert visitors to prospects to qualified leads to clients
- Design a system for encouraging site visitors to sign-up for your emails
- Make sure that each name in the system has a “begin date” in their record
- As a prospect moves through the marketing funnel and gives you more information, consider adding birth dates and other important dates that give you an excuse to send them an email
- If you can, segment by location, income, marital status, etc.
Having your email list segmented will make it much easier to target the right prospects with the right information at the right stage in the buying process.
Your email list segmentation works a lot like your offers do.
The people on your list who qualify as prospects will be sent top of the funnel information.
Middle of the funnel prospects who are actually reading your emails will need to receive more personalized emails that provide explanations and options for contact with your company.
If a person has made it this far in your list, and you create awesome emails with links back to your page for new offers, you are probably going to close your sale.
Put each segment on some type of rotation – called drip marketing – which requires a follow up email, or even a phone call, depending on the type of lead.
There are several excellent email marketing companies out there who offer free or low cost alternatives to help automate your email process.
The blog has become the central force in attracting potential clients to your website. By writing about industry related topics and including your SEO targeted keywords, your company can use a blog as the jumping point for every other inbound method you employ.
Distribute your blogs across social media networks using a link to your blog page and slowly but surely, your lead base will begin to grow.
These days, no one really knows how long a blog post should be; anywhere from 800 to 1500 words seems to suit Google just fine – as long as the content is original, researched well, has proper links and uses your keyword strategy.
The use of visuals in blogging is also a great way to get noticed. Make sure you name every picture or graphic you add to a blog post using at least one of your keywords – Google ranks using photo descriptions as well.
What should you write about? Go to your competitor’s blogs and see what they are writing about. Review your buyer personas and write content based on the questions they are asking.
Create content that varies:
- Posts about your industry
- Posts that are visually heavy
- Posts that are funny
- Posts about your company
- Posts directly related to your products and services
You will find that will good keyword research and buyer personas, finding something to write about isn’t going to be hard.
Google loves a good headline. It entices a reader to read your content. If it does that – your headline is working!
- It tells the reader what your content is about. Make sure it’s short, specific and not misleading
- It is optimized for search engines, but only after you have considered your target audience
- It triggers an emotion or a need in the reader
With a little research, you can find some great examples of how to write good headlines, and even headline words that have gone viral.
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
When you start planning your inbound marketing strategy, instead of running out and signing up for every social media site out there, take a close look at each one and how it relates to your buyer persona and your business.
Cooper Smith of BusinessInsider.com wrote an interesting article on the major social networks called The Demographics Of Social Media Audiences, And The Unique Opportunities Offered By Each Network. In it he sites the big differences in the major platforms available to your company. Take a look at your buyer persona and figure out which social media audience is going to be the best for you.
An often overlooked part of the SEO domain is putting yourself out there as a part of your business. Building relationships both online and throughout your community is a great way to peak interest and curiosity about you and your brand.
Become a part of a select few groups on your chosen social media platforms and engage well with them. Quality is better over quantity here folks.
THE USER EXPERIENCE
Don’t forget that creating a good buyer persona at the beginning of the SEO process translates to a potential client later on. Optimize your website for search engines, but make sure your visitor likes it first. If your website is so optimized for engines that a user gets very little stimulation, then the entire process it pointless.
You are in business to sell to people, not search engines. Making search that your website and content is engaging for visitors should be your first goal, with search engines coming in second.
Search Engine Optimization in relation to your inbound marketing strategy can be an amazing way to get more traffic to your website. Using SEO both before and after the content creation process creates a great experience for both the search engines and, more importantly, your potential customer.
Creating good content that is geared toward your targeted audience, as well as suited toward web crawlers increases your chances of creating more leads, as well as being included in higher search rankings.
And never forget how your SEO and content efforts relate to your lead nurturing process. The inbound marketing strategy, when used correctly, will create big wins for both you and your customers.
As always, an inbound marketing agent can help you with every step of the SEO process as well as creating your inbound strategy and making it work for your business. Are you the "Master of Your Domain"?