Most of the material available online about marketing is geared towards marketers and this is a mistake. Marketing involves integral parts of running a business and is a terribly important area of study for most people in the professional world, no matter what our industry or intended profession is. The intelligence behind marketing involves advertising, selling, brand building, promotion, and a large number of traditionally executed activities in a business setting- all of which can have applications in other scenarios that various professionals will encounter.
If you’re a business owner or self-employed professional, it’s completely up to you to know how to market the goods and services that you provide to the market. Even if you aren’t one, that puts you in the other group of people- those who work for others (not in a marketing role). You still need to be able to market your abilities and strengths to current and future employers.
Not all marketing content applies to non-marketers. But no matter your role professionally, it’s crucial for you to have a baseline of understanding on how to sell and build a brand.
Introducing Inbound Marketing to Non-Marketers
New kids on the block might not know what inbound marketing is, exactly- even if they’ve heard the phrase thrown around. To make it easy to understand, I’ll explain it like this: consider marketing as a courtship between you and your customers, not unlike a date. If outbound marketing is the active pursuit of customers or the grand sweeping gestures like courting, wining and dining, then inbound marketing is the subtle cues that attract people to you. The clothes you’re wearing, the topics that you’re passionate about, and any shared common interests. It’s how you come across to others that spark that interest in you without you having to continuously throw yourself at them.
Gartner has a much more refined, professional way of putting this: “Inbound marketing is about getting found — in not just search but all the places buyers go to self-educate.” This is the reason why the majority of people who discuss inbound marketing almost always focus on SEO and social media.
Being new to the game in a 2019 digital world puts you at a bit of a disadvantage, but let’s make sure that you walk away with the foundational knowledge of how to get somewhere that’s better than where you’re at right now. The best way of executing on an inbound marketing strategy in today’s competitive landscape is to make sure you have a basic toolkit that gives you the what, who, and how of a successful inbound marketing strategy.
- What: the things you need for inbound marketing
- Who: the people that you’ll need to leverage
- How: the tools that you use to execute
First, The What
Here’s what you need to start executing on strategy for Inbound Marketing:
Good content is the cornerstone of SEO, that’s no secret. No matter if it’s web copy, blog content, or video. When it comes to blog content, the definition of ‘good content’ is a bit of a moving target at times, but there are some things you need to know:
- Long form content is favored by Google for your SEO
- User engagement with your content will play a large role in your rankings on Google
- The mobile performance of your website will continue to increase in importance as Google shifts to a mobile-first world.
- Be aware of too many pop-ups; Google is penalizing sites for invasive user experience and even blocking pop-ups on Chrome.
If you’re struggling to rank high in Google search, social media is a solid second choice to acquire referral traffic. No matter if you’re posting to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, the key is to find out which social media platform that your target audience frequents. Make it a goal to build up your social media following to get your content in front of the right eyes at the right time.
Now, The Who
Who, exactly, do you need to make inbound marketing work>
Knowing who your audience sounds like a no-brainer, but surprisingly even seasoned marketers occasionally skip this step. Knowing who they are and just as importantly- what they’re looking for– is probably the single most crucial piece of information that you need to execute a successful inbound marketing strategy.
First, do your research and determine what your audience is and that it actually exists. You need to find a unique angle to target that audience. In saturated markets, you’ll have a harder time breaking through if you can’t find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition in the space.
Defining your target audience can be tough! Here are some things to look at to help:
- Look at your current customer base
- Analyze your competition
- Analyze the product/service you’re offering
- Choose a target demographic
- Analyze their personality traits
- Reassess your target market after you do some research
Writers are possibly the most important part of your inbound marketing strategy. Perhaps even more important than marketers. The majority of inbound marketing revolves around the content of some kind- blog content, web copy, or social media posts which should be executed by trained writers.
Now, the market is completely saturated with content marketing efforts, so quality (well researched, well written, well-informed content) will be the defining mainstay between a great website and a bad one. Also, as Google moves away from traditional SEO and focuses more on the intent around searches, you’re going to need someone who is comfortable with the written word to make sure that your content stands out from the rest.
Finally, The How
What are the tools that you need with a successful inbound marketing strategy?
- SEMRush: a keyword research tool to look for keywords that have high search volume and low competition
- MozBar: Gives you page and domain authority to explore the competitive landscape
- Hootsuite: schedule, publish, and analyze social media posts across different networks
- Google Analytics: allows you to monitor web traffic, time on page, click-throughs, and time on site
Start Marketing Now
Inbound marketing will almost always help to increase your visibility online without you having to shell out major money by hiring a marketing agency or moving towards more traditional marketing methods. Inbound marketing is all about positioning yourself and visibility, so to summarize:
- Create quality content using SEO best practices and social media to increase visibility
- Define an audience and hire writers to maximize relevancy, quality, and exposure
- Use your tools before and after content creation efforts, amplify reach using social media marketing tools, and use Google Analytics to help gauge success
Kristen Bowie is a marketing leader, forging the path with data-driven decisions. When she’s not writing for thought leadership and creating sponsorship proposals at Qwilr, she’s hanging out with her two urban dwarf goats, painting, or is out watching a local band.