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. Not read Step 1? Probably best to head there first.
If you’ve already been through Step 1 of this series, then you’ve already done the groundwork needed to ensure you are prepared to build a valuable online presence. In the first article in this series, we discussed different platforms and the importance of choosing the most suitable, designing these in line with your brand, CMS capability and management of your inbound marketing strategy.
By covering everything you need to get started, you should now have an idea of which online networks and platforms you feel are best suited to you. This is where the creativity begins and starts to bring your marketing to life: you’ve got the platforms, how are you going to draw people to them and convert them to clients?
Content is King
Great content has always been at the heart of Inbound Marketing strategies and that continues to be the case, even if the form this content takes is changing at a rapid rate. The philosophy though is simple and sound: give people a little of something they want and they will come back for something more later.
When you reduce it down to that level, almost everything becomes Inbound Marketing. Think about the games you or your children have on your smartphone. Are many of them free to begin with, but then require in-app purchases to advance, or advance faster? That’s essentially the Content and Inbound model: ‘Here’s some of our expertise free, but if you want to go further, that might cost you’.
There are numerous routes you could take at this stage for the content and it can be easy to get carried away. It’s a good idea to re-visit your aims and objectives at this point to ensure what you produce is in line with your company’s approach. Innovative content like podcasts could be key if your ideal client is relatively young (50% of podcast listeners are age 12-34), whereas written content might be more appropriate for those approaching retirement age. Most of your content will probably feature online at some point but if your audience is in the latter age group then consider offline content too. Think offline content needs to be boring? Think again. Even your business card can become a piece of Inbound marketing and great offline content can lead to online content about your firm.
Content is core to capturing the interest of potential clients so that they engage and most importantly, act on what is in front of them. Don’t fall into the trap of confusing content with copy alone; inbound marketing covers written, visual and audio content, and the design could be, and often is, more important than the text itself.
Variety is key
Not all of us like change, but if a website had the same layout across each page, for example, it would make a potential client click the exit button as opposed to the contact us page. Where content is concerned, variety is key to attracting different audiences using essentially the same information.
Infographics are a good example. Their purpose is to turn information into an eye-catching visual display, rather than cold data. If designed well, this tool cleverly generates brand awareness due to the combination of colours, images and text and also commands attention from your audience.
But there’s no reason why the data in your infographic can’t form part of a white paper either, or be explained in a video, or be created as a SlideShare slide deck. Using videos to explain complicated subjects such as Auto Enrolment is a fantastic opportunity to educate and show off your knowledge, but use that knowledge elsewhere too. Demonstrating your expertise can help you up-sell your services, enhance your user’s experience and drive traffic to your website, and doing it in multiple places, in multiple ways, increases your chances of success.
Don’t forget to keep what you’ve already got!
Although it’s great to attract potential clients, it’s essential to not forget about your current clients. Providing them with content they want too is just the start. Show you value their opinion by distributing surveys - you will find their feedback invaluable to not only improving your inbound strategy but also your business as a whole and the results can make great articles and further content. Think small graphics for use on social media, or something more in-depth depending on the nature of the research you carried out.
Regular contact with your clients via email marketing platforms is also great to help solidify trust and make your business more personal than it already is. You can also measure the effectiveness of these platforms and get a better insight of what your clients like and don’t like. The content you produce makes for great articles within a regular newsletter.
Don’t forget that relaying your brand personality through your content is as important as the content itself. Readers will make a value judgement about your firm based on your content’s appearance. Supplement blogs with photography or other imagery and add your branding to every piece of content you provide: from animated introductions to videos to simply putting your logo on white papers. Content is King, but make sure people recognise who’s providing them with the most valuable selection: make sure you reveal yourselves as the power behind the throne!
By Sam Turner. Sam is ClientsFirst's Marketing Executive and writes here on topics including; inbound and content marketing, social media, design and e-marketing. He likes all of those things as well as travel, golf and frequent cups of tea. You can find him on Google+, Twitter & LinkedIn.