Don’t let this happen to you
Remember walking into your first middle school dance, excited and scared at the same time, hoping most of all that you wouldn’t do anything stupid?
Inbound marketing can cause the same emotions. So, in the spirit of that cool eighth grader who took you under their wing, here are a few pointers on what not to do, in hopes that you’ll learn from someone else’s mistakes.
Don’t avoid the dance: Sure, it’s a little scary, but if you don’t jump in, your customers will have a heck of a time finding you. Business spending on inbound marketing continues to grow for a reason – it works. Fear of the unknown won’t grow your business.
Know your target: Spending a lot of time online studying the tastes and habits of a girl (or guy) you want to dance with is, well, really creepy. However, that analogy breaks down completely when it comes to inbound marketing, where knowing your way around Web analytics and audience measurement tools is just smart business.
Have a plan: Find a niche, connect with your customers by providing compelling, relevant content, optimize your search results, build great landing pages, tap into the right social media tools, measure the results and foster a relationship that translates into sales and customer loyalty. Simple, right? Um, not exactly. Too often, a business owner gets the big, big, big picture, but can’t get a handle on the nitty-gritty details: What’s compelling and relevant? How do I maximize SEO? How do I build a relationship with customer? Heck, who are my customers, anyway? Like an M.C. Escher drawing, inbound marketing can be more complicated than it seems and there are no easy answers.
Don’t oversell: Inbound marketing isn’t a sales brochure. Don’t fill your website and blog up with information about you, you, you – your audience wants to talk about me, me, me. Your job is to show how you can solve their problems, not simply shill your products like a state-fair huckster.
Make sure you blog doesn’t suck: A freshly-updated blog with relevant, interesting content is to your website what spinach is to Popeye. Many good things flow from a good blog: Search engine visibility, site traffic, sales leads, thought leadership in your industry and good, old-fashioned buzz.
Stick with it: In 99 percent of cases, success doesn’t happen overnight. Having a good plan and the perseverance to stick it out is the key. (Of course, a good plan will include using analytics that help you define success and understand when adjustments are necessary).
Avoid social media gotchas: Social media can be an important component of your inbound marketing efforts, but it poses its own set or challenges and rewards. In fact, there’s enough here for its own post, so stay tuned next week for more on this topic…