Ninety three percent of businesses using inbound marketing increase their lead generation, a 2013 study by Hubspot found. With numbers like these, any and all advice for ramping up your inbound-marketing efforts is valuable, particularly if it comes from those who know the business.
To get your lead machine running at top speed, we turn to nine time-tested tips and insights from Brian Halligan of Hubspot, Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute and Brian Clark of Copyblogger.
1. “Great” content motivates people to act. Inbound marketing involves a lot of details. From subheadings, SEO keywords, to simple sentence structure, it can be difficult to determine exactly what makes content “great.” However, for Pulizzi, the answer is simple: “great” content makes people act.
You’re running a business, and your business depends on funneling impressions into leads, and then into conversions. While your well-crafted piece of prose may spur a few head nods, it is only truly great if it is sufficiently inspiring as to motivate email signups, purchases or product demos that ultimately help your business convert.
2. Information is not enough to make your content work. Frequently, an inbound-marketing strategy depends on building a perception of authority around your business. For this reason, providing meaningful factoids and insider tips can seem like the way to go.
According to Clark, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Information is just the tip of the iceberg. The rest involves optimizing, promoting, engaging, monitoring and iterating to optimize that information into a vehicle for your business.
3. “Great” content is literally irreplaceable. It may sound like hyperbole to say that information must be “irreplaceable,” but when one considers that the top result on Google receives 33 percent of clicks, one thing is clear: your content has to be a definitive resource.
In Pulizzi’s eyes, shooting for irreplaceability is the best way to assert your content as a go-to now and for the foreseeable future.
4. Seek and tap your sources of inspiration. Halligan takes naps during the day. Why? Because that’s when he comes up with his best ideas.
At first blush, this may sound more like CEO quirkiness than strategy, but it touches on something very important. Put yourself wherever inspiration arises. Becoming the best in your industry through fantastic content means pulling out all the stops, and if that means naps, trips to the library or standing on your head, then so be it.
5. Your workplace culture is a resource. Your blog is a conduit for disseminating effective marketing content, Halligan says. Your culture, personality, modus operandi and idiosyncrasies are resources.
Pay attention to what makes your workplace different and use it. Those quirky board meetings may be just what potential leads need to take the plunge.
6. People don’t want to see how the sausage is made. There is, however, a caveat to that point. Clark is quick to point out that while people appreciate a personal touch, almost no one wants to really see the nitty gritty that makes your company run.
Personal quarrels, bad days and inside jokes that alienate your audience aren’t charming quirks -- they’re an uncomfortable look behind the scenes. Keep the private stuff private, for the sake of your audience.
7. Be a community hub, not a promotion megaphone. What many businesses don’t understand about inbound marketing is that it is a conversation, not a promotional stunt.
Blogs, videos and social media chats are designed to engage customers around a central topic, according to Halligan. If these same individuals wanted traditional advertising, they wouldn’t be turning to content in droves.
8. Keep it simple stupid. Your team works with highly specialized information every day. Whether you’re business-to-consumer tastemakers or business-to-business specialists, you are likely to be far more familiar with the jargon and nuances of your industry than your audience.
What matters, however, is your audience. Your information is valuable, but only insofar as it enriches the lives of your loyal readers. Halligan suggests that, “it is better to ‘dumb things down’ then go over your audience’s heads.”
9. Take care of the details, even if they go unnoticed. Let’s be honest here: attending to the details of your inbound-marketing strategy can become very tedious, very quickly. Optimizing headlines, re-optimizing target keywords and micromanaging your social media schedule can tire even the hardiest marketer in a hurry.
According to Clark, it doesn’t matter. The details matter. Even if your audience isn’t consciously affected by their presence, they are on a level that greatly affects your content’s performance and impact. So the next time you consider cutting corners to get to lunch sooner, remember, the details matter, even if no one notices them.
The last word in our lineup is an important reminder for inbound marketers everywhere. Yes, the details matter and yes, inbound marketing takes time and effort, but it is only a piece of your holistic marketing strategy.
Like any body of work, every piece must perform at its full capacity for the whole to benefit, but remember that blog posts and podcasts serve your business as a whole and the rest will fall into place.
Clark, Pulizzi and Halligan are three individuals who “get” inbound marketing, and their insight can help you. From the mouths of the experts, use these nine tips and get your inbound marketing engine operating more efficiently, effectively, and reliably.
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