A few months ago I wrote a piece on “How to get started with Twitter to get your message out”. At that time, one of the books on my ‘must read’ pile was “Inbound Marketing” by Brian Haliigan and Dharmesh Shah, founders of Hubspot. I finally got around to cracking it open and thought I would share some of my observations.
Dharmesh and Brian were there at the start of the Social Media revolution and have created one of the most popular sites for people serious about growing their leads and customers from the web. Their aptly coined term “Inbound Marketing” denotes how conventional marketing has been flipped on its head with the emphasis on your customer finding you.
Fortunately a lot of this is not rocket science, some of which I have already reiterated in my post on getting started with Twitter, and most of it can be easily applied to the nonprofit world. Since the book addresses the larger issue of setting up your web presence and getting found by your customers, I thought I would summarize what I gleaned from their tome.
- Create amazing content. This is a core tenet. To set yourself apart from the millions of web pages on every conceivable topic on the Internet, you need to create a niche that sets you apart and fill it with remarkable content. Mediocrity gets you nowhere.
- The Title is the most important part of your page. Make sure you spend enough time choosing a relevant title. Google matches keywords to the words in your title. Include names of famous companies or people in your title to increase the chance of being found. For some crazy reason, people are attracted to numbered lists which explain the proliferation of “Top 10” and other such titles. Make sure you have a description and Meta information for your page.
- Selecting keywords is important. 89 percent of search traffic on Google is concentrated on the first page of results from a keyword search. And of this 42% of the clicks go to the first item on the search result page. This makes finding the right keywords to include on your page most important. Check keywords for their search volume, their relevance to your article and the competition for the word.
- Emphasize the components that Google favors on your page. When creating a page, include headers to break up the topic. Google uses headers like H1, H2 etc. to determine key topics in your page. Make sure your graphics have ‘alt’ text content so the crawlers can read them. Highlight key words and phrases and link them to authoritative sources.
- Share your content. Make sure you link to relevant sites from your articles. Also make sure you subscribe to relevant industry blogs and join the conversation on those sites. As the authors of the book say “You gotta give to get”. Converse with the people who take time to comment on your articles.
- Pay attention to Social Media. Makes sure you set yourself up with Twitter, Facebook, Linked-in, You Tube and other tools. Fill in your bio/profile as this is your calling card. Make sure you include links to your website and blog in your profiles. Conversely, include links to your social media profiles on your website and blog.
- Create a compelling call to action to convert visitors to leads. Provide your visitor with something they value – a free trial, a whitepaper, podcast or other content. Make the call to action stand out. Place it at the top of the page and visible graphically. Make sure every page has a relevant call to action. Make them action oriented – start with a verb. Typical conversions should start around 1%; anything greater than 5% is great!
- Convert Prospects to Leads by keeping things simple. Provide a visually strong call to action that is simple and focuses on the single thing you are offering. Remove all extraneous information from the page. Keep data collection simple and to a minimum, you can always collect more data later. Build trust with your customer by clearly presenting privacy information so they know how you use data. Respond and confirm promptly once they sign up.
- Nurture your leads into paying customers. Grade your leads based on how they arrived, how frequently they visit your site, how recently they visited, and the type of call to action they responded to. The issue for most companies is generating enough leads, not grading and massaging leads.
- Track your progress. Keep track of how your sites are doing on a regular basis. How many pages are in Google’s index, how many inbound links to your site, how many actual results coming in from searches, how many comments? Make necessary tweaks to your pages or other components based on the data.
- Hiring the right folks for the new Social Media age is key! Make sure your prospective hires have the digital savvy. Do they have a blog? Do they use the tools you use? Make sure they also have the analytical chops. Have they used Google Analytics? What sales tools have they used to decipher web performance and conversion? Having a wide social media reach is important. How many followers do they have on Twitter? Connections on Linked-in? Friends on Facebook? And finally can they write good copy? After all you need to create great content to get people to come to your site.
This list of observations applies equally well to nonprofits as well as mainstream for-profit companies. If you start applying them as you build out your web presence, you too will be able to start gleaning the results from an effective inbound marketing strategy.