In this series, we’ll take you through step-by-step exactly how we work with clients to build their valuable online presence; from the small things you need to do before you get started, to using your content to generate interest and enquiries. Our 5 Steps to Inbound Marketing are all you need to get started on the road to revolutionising how you market your firm.
Building the foundations for Inbound
Like any other marketing strategy, Inbound or Content Marketing needs preparation and planning before your firm can launch into it. Before this Step 1 even, there’s another stage, one during which you need to set out aims, objectives and activities: everything you would do for any other marketing campaign.
Once you’ve done that though, the first step to an Inbound strategy is to make sure you have all of the platforms you require, as well as the expertise to use them properly. It may seem as though anyone can pick up a new social platform - and in many cases that’s true - but when you’re setting up a whole network of platforms, things can become more complicated.
Homes for content
Whilst it may be tempting to begin by jumping on to popular platforms or networks like Twitter or Facebook, the most valuable platforms for Inbound Marketing are actually those that you own yourselves: your website, blog, somewhere to store and host other material.
The whole point of Inbound Marketing is to drive people towards your company and often that means driving them to your website. You’ll need to make sure that your website is operating as it should: as a key sales tool for your firm, something which you are proud to use as a way to introduce people to who you are and what you do.
On a technical level, you’ll also need to make sure that the facility is there for you to add content. Most modern websites will have a news page and/or a blog facility. You’ll normally be able to update this using a Content Management System (CMS), something which makes it easy to add in new updates to the site. It’s worth making sure this is the case though, so check what’s there and that it is available for you to use.
On a more advanced level, once you get started properly on Inbound Marketing, you’ll be producing guides, videos, graphics and more: can your CMS handle all of this? Is there space to upload it and easily embed it onto your site? Our websites are built on Wordpress, a popular CMS which has all of these features, so it’s worth checking that your current or new site has the same, or something similar (there are plenty more available).
Identifying what else you need
A glance online will tell you that there is a huge world beyond the big boys of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn but do you really need an account on Weibo - yes, it has 530 million registered users, but they’re nearly all based in China... Perhaps not your target market?
This stage is all about picking the networks that interest you and that you think are suitable to the type of Inbound Marketing you want to pursue. Good with a camera and think you’ll be able to produce interesting visual content? Then places like Pinterest, Vine and Instagram are made for you. Think you’ll be able to produce more written content than your company blog can handle? Blogging platforms like Tumblr and Blogger could give your content a second home, and setting up Google Authorship through Google+ can boost its SEO and give you an individual presence online.
There are plenty of networks to choose from, so look carefully and choose only the ones you will need: an inactive social presence is arguably worse than no social presence at all.
What do you need to start an account?
In some cases, the answer to this may simply be an email address and the ability to pick an appropriate user name, but in most cases, once you get into the network, you’ll need a whole lot more.
Considering your account is going to be a corporate presence, you’ll want to make sure that profile images, backgrounds and headers are all in your branding. Many networks require these to be a certain size and type of image. You’ll also probably need to populate the account with biographical detail for your firm, as well as other information. Make sure you’ve got everything you need in terms of graphics and information before you get started.
Whilst it might not be possible to lock down exactly who will take responsibility for these networks at this point, it is worth giving some thought to whether all of the expertise already exists and if it doesn’t, where it is going to come from.
If you are planning on keeping the management of the networks internal, then consider starting personal accounts alongside the corporate ones: it’s a great way to learn good practice and it will get you ready for when the firm’s accounts go live.
Don’t be afraid to delegate accounts to other employees, but make sure there are communication channels - once we get to the later steps you’ll see that keeping abreast of what each account is doing is an important factor in making sure your entire Inbound Marketing effort is properly connected and working as well as it can for you.