SUMMARY: Inbound marketing can use organic search, social media and content marketing to draw prospects in to a point of conversion. A recent MarketingSherpa webinar, "Building an Inbound Marketing Architecture" (sponsored by Marketo) established a tactical plan for accomplishing goals and increasing reach on social networks. MECLABS' Kaci Bower also discussed what inbound marketing is, and its importance to marketers today.
In this follow-up, learn to launch an inbound marketing architecture with a plan and a purpose, driving traffic to a point of convergence and conversion with a result of significantly reduced costs, increased sales and improved ROI.
According to the MarketingSherpa 2011 Social Marketing Benchmark Report, 76% of marketers agree that leveraging inbound marketing is essential, yet only 47% currently do it. A possible reason for this disparity is the question that faces many marketers: "We know inbound works, but how do you do it well?"
In a recent webinar, which can be viewed in full below, Kaci Bower, Senior Research Analyst, MECLABS, shared her research to help answer this question with tangible results.
Tactic #1. Get leads to find and choose you, using an inbound marketing architecture
Search engine optimization, social media and content are each proven performers when separately implemented. However, if implemented as a strategically synchronized methodical strategy, it can result in significantly reduced costs, increased sales and improved ROI.
Synchronizing these tactics requires architecture to systematically channel traffic to points of customer conversion. Without this, leads have no purposeful direction and can become lost before ever reaching a conversion point.
In hub architecture, three levels feed into each other from the SEO foundation, through social media spoke sites into your hub sites, or your website and blog. The end objective is to systematically and efficiently drive traffic from search and social media to specific conversion points.
Tactic #2. Attract them with timely and relevant search results
The goal of SEO is to help search engines, in response to a search query, find and rank your Web content higher than competing sites.
"Today, ranking high in search engine results is necessary, not optional," said Bower.
According to the MarketingSherpa Search Marketing Benchmark Report – PPC Edition, "Users will typically click an organic listing up to three times as often as a sponsored ad." And, 60% of organic searches go to the top three search results, according to Optify's study, "The Changing Face of SERPs: Organic Click Through Rate."
Keyword research is an effective option for achieving high search engine results, driving conversion and later on optimizing content either produced or repurposed.
"Keyword research helps you understand what your customers want and value. Once you have that, you can optimize content and pages to drive conversion. Once you have good, relevant content, people are more likely to link to your content and share it," she said.
Tactic #3. Build and engage with social networks
Social networks are entirely about community building and engagement, providing a platform to share and influence opinions.
"The first thing social media does is it gives companies a great way to listen and monitor. You don’t want to rush that listening process. Because listening to conversations about your company without even saying anything is a great way to grow more familiar with social media, unfortunately, too many companies rush this step, or skip it altogether. That really can limit your ability to meaningfully engage with your target," said Bower.
Top social marketing priorities for CMOs address traffic and awareness, but also leads and customers. Just because you’re on a platform doesn’t mean you’re going to be effective there. Therefore, it is important to develop a plan and a purpose, and content makes up a large part of that.
"Have a good content marketing strategy," Bower advises. "You’re not going to get people interested in your social media unless you have something to say first. You want to be a great conduit of information."
Specific sites are more conducive to certain end-goals:
Facebook works well for consumer engagement and education
LinkedIn groups work well for channel partner identification and development, and for projecting thought leadership
Twitter is an effective customer service desk
According to a survey from the MarketingSherpa 2011 Social Marketing Benchmark Report, more than half of active Twitter users follow companies, brands or products on social networks, 79% of U.S. Twitter users are more likely to recommend brands they follow, and 67% of U.S. Twitter users are more likely to buy from brands they follow.
Content becomes a vital, but occasionally overwhelming, part of generating a high placement on search engine results pages (SERPs). To produce content that will bring in the desired results, three objectives need addressing:
Understand what your prospects and customers need to know
Produce optimized content based on relevant keywords
Deliver and share optimized content through social networks
Repurposing previously published content is a nice way to get ahead of the curve. In determining how to accomplish this successfully, first take an inventory of what you have, including as many departments as possible. Start brainstorming ways you might be able to repurpose the content you find to fit your current objectives. Don’t just cut and paste, but take the time to freshen it up.
"Focus on aligning content with your goals, audience and opportunities -¬- and let that drive the design and topic," Bower highlighted.
Bower encouraged marketers to think through every stage a prospect goes through: awareness, consideration, inquiry, purchase and retention. Then, put yourself in the mindset of the ideal prospect and try to imagine the questions that person would ask for each stage.
Following that objective will raise general awareness of your brand, increase website traffic, and encourage active interest in and consideration of your products and services. It will also get prospects to choose you over your competitors, while retaining your current customer base.
Tactic #5. Optimize the ultimate conversion point
Websites are at the hub of marketing strategy and inbound architecture. Crucial to the rate of consumer conversions at this point is landing page optimization, according to Bower. Incremental gains can produce significant financial impact, since an improvement in conversion amplifies the return on investment for driving traffic to that site through all of your inbound efforts.
"For the greatest conversion rates and contribution, you still need to optimize your websites," said Bower.
To properly facilitate traffic convergence and conversion, it is vitally important to fully understand the strategy of each social media site. The number of sites, or spokes leading into the hub, is not important, but a plan and a purpose for each one is. Each social network should be mastered before establishing your brand on the next.
Watch the replay
For more information on building and optimizing your inbound marketing strategies, download the slides from this webinar or watch the full replay of "Building a Marketing Architecture: Learn how to synchronize search, social and content for lead generation and customer conversion" below:
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