Introduction to Inbound Marketing

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1 Introduction to Inbound Marketing by Kevin Carney of Inbound Marketing University Page 1 of 20

2 InboundMarketingUniversity.biz InboundMarketingUniversity Published by Inbound Marketing University No part of this publication may be reproduced or distributed in any form or by any means, or stored in any database or retrieval system without the prior written permission of Inbound Marketing University. If you need permission, please ask. We just might say yes. We re nice people. The information in this document is accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of writing. As a reader you need to accept full responsibility for your action and should consult with a professional about your own circumstances before following anything in this white paper. Results can not be guaranteed, in Inbound Marketing as in life. However, as in life, we do tend to reap what we sow. Further, the author and publisher have used their best efforts to proof and confirm the content of this document, but you should proof and confirm information such as dates, measurements, and any other content for yourself. The author and publisher make no warranties of any kind, express or implied, with regard to that content or its accuracy. For more information, please write to: Inbound Marketing University PO Box 1680 Buda, TX Phone: (yes that s a California area code) Website: InboundMarketingUniversity.biz Published in the United States of American (unless you re one of those people who believe Texas never legally joined the Union, in which case it s published in Texas). Anyone caught breaking the above rules will be liable for copyright infringement and additionally will be required to (at your expense of course) come to Texas during the heat of the summer and work mending fences. Page 2 of 20

3 High Level Overview... 4 Marketing as Journalism (1)... 4 Importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO)... 5 Success Stories ,800% increase in organic search traffic in 2 ½ months ,400% increase in organic search traffic in 3 months ,300% increase in organic search traffic in 3 months... 7 Social Media vs Organic Search... 8 Getting out of The Sandbox... 9 Inbound vs Outbound Why Use Inbound? Cost Advantage of Inbound Marketing Hiring an Agency Sweat Equity Organic Search vs Everything Else Search Signals Quantity Quality Consistency Longevity Who Knows You? Keywords Marketing as Journalism (2) Sales Funnels Conversion Agile Marketing Success Factors Publishing Networking Conversion Important Factors of an Inbound Marketing Program Summary Where Can You Learn More? Page 3 of 20

4 High Level Overview Technology (and more specifically the Internet) has disrupted many industries to date, and this trend is not slowing down. This occurs when technology and economics intersect in a way that reduces the cost of something drastically. The music industry was disrupted when the cost of distributing a single song dropped to near zero. What created this cost reduction were songs being reformatted into MP3 files which are easily transferred across the Internet. A similar disruption is now happening to marketing. The combination of the fact that the cost of publishing via a website has dropped to near zero, and the mechanics of how search engines present results (and yes, it is very mechanical) is changing the way we market goods and services. Marketing as Journalism (1) Weaving a good story, and getting that story to the right audience, has always been key to a successful marketing campaign. The internet has made it possible for small businesses, even solo-preneurs to have easy, inexpensive access to do just that: create and distribute stories. Modern marketing looks like something we re all familiar with. Modern marketing looks like journalism. The core elements of Inbound Marketing are attracting your audience to your website through publishing (blogging), and converting website visitors into prospects for your business. The core activities are the same as those used to publish magazines. Generating ideas for stories and articles. Writing and editing these stories and articles. Publishing them at regular intervals. Meeting deadlines. The only significant difference between traditional publishing and Inbound Marketing is what you sell. With traditional publishing you gather your audience, and then sell advertising to people who want to sell goods and services to your audience. With Inbound Marketing you don t sell advertising, you directly sell your products and services. Page 4 of 20

5 Importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) SEO is defined differently by different people, which leads to confusion, but there are two definitions that make sense, and are somewhat related: 1. The technical adjustments made on the back end of the website to make it easier for the search engine robots to find and crawl your site. 2. Publishing articles and stories for people, while formatting them for search engines. There was a day when option 1 was all you needed for a high search engine ranking, but now that the Internet is more crowded you must publish, but what you publish must be formatted properly for search engines. The best website visitors are the ones who show up via organic search. They go online to look for something and one of the things they find is you. The first step in qualifying a prospect is to determine if they have an interest in your products or services. When people search online and find your website, it s a given they re interested in what is published on your website. If they were not, they would never have found it in the first place. In short, SEO is critical for successful Inbound Marketing. This is covered more fully later in this document. Page 5 of 20

6 Success Stories The success stories below are not generic. They are clients on whose behalf we provided Inbound Marketing services or students who learned from me how to do Inbound Marketing themselves. These are real success stories I was personally involved with. 1,800% increase in organic search traffic in 2 ½ months 5,400% increase in organic search traffic in 3 months Page 6 of 20

7 2,300% increase in organic search traffic in 3 months This customer was in discussion with a publisher to get a book deal. The publisher required he prove he had an audience. After 5 months of Inbound Marketing his website traffic increased so dramatically, he had all the proof he needed. He got his book deal. Page 7 of 20

8 Social Media vs Organic Search Some people promote their businesses using Social Media, such as FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, as the key to building their brand and their business. Social media does play an important supporting role in Inbound Marketing. But until your business attracts thousands of followers it is more important to focus on ATTRACTING your audience through Inbound Marketing. Through this process you will create a repository of stories to tweet and gather an audience to Tweet to. One of my students was sending updates to her social media networking connections which you can see in the graph above as the initial spikes. It worked. People who received her social media posts came to her website, but each week fewer and fewer came. Social media updates are interruptions and people can handle only so many interruptions in a day. We ve learned to filter out the ones that are not urgent. However, you can clearly see when the organic search kicked in. After it did, the numbers of visitors who arrived via organic search swamped the numbers of people who arrived via social media. It takes time for organic search to reach critical mass as longevity is a key part of the Google search algorithm. Websites come and go every day and before your site achieves a high search ranking, it has to be around for a while. Page 8 of 20

9 Getting out of The Sandbox The period of time you publish before the organic search visitors start arriving en masse is called the search sandbox. With this student as well, you can clearly see when the organic search visitors kick in and she got out of the search sandbox. The search sandbox (also called the Google Sandbox Effect) is a well documented phenomenon new websites go through. Page 9 of 20

10 Inbound vs Outbound To more fully explain what Inbound Marketing is, let me contrast it with outbound marketing. Outbound marketing is when a brand sends their marketing or advertising message out into a very large audience with the fore knowledge that most people who receive it do not care. They are not buying now, and they may not buy ever. They re simply not interested. One type of outbound marketing is Direct Mail, when a business buys a mailing list of names that have indicated an interest in a certain area. The industry considers a 3-5% return rate as a good success. Outbound marketing is a function of mass media that was invented shortly after the invention of radio. When radio was first invented, there was no technology to allow for the charging of subscription fees or access fees as did occur with newspapers. The spread of radio depended upon finding a viable commercial model. That commercial model is now known as commercials. Inbound Marketing on the other hand is the exact opposite. With Inbound Marketing you don t even meet people unless they have an interest in what your website talks about. You know that because they find you. Why Use Inbound? The two primary reasons are: 1. Leads from Inbound sources are cheaper. 2. Leads from Inbound sources are better. A study published by HubSpot (a provider of somewhat expensive Inbound Marketing tools) shows us that leads from Inbound sources are 61% cheaper than leads from outbound sources. A link to a page where you can find their results is below. HubSpot Study Showing Inbound Leads 61% Cheaper You know the leads are of high quality simply because they searched for something that brought them to your site. They found you. Page 10 of 20

11 Cost Advantage of Inbound Marketing For some small businesses, advertising in magazines, newspapers, radio spots, and mailers makes sense but usually costs several thousand dollars a month. For large businesses, Inbound Marketing is typically a five figure monthly expense. But here is the most important piece of information many small business owners don t realize you can learn to do it yourself for a very small fraction of that. Hiring an Agency Generating and publishing quality content on a consistent and frequent basis takes time and effort. The large firms hired by established businesses charge a minimum of $2,500 a month. Some charge $10,000+ a month. For businesses that have that kind of budget, this is a good solution. For smaller firms for whom this level of expense is simply out of the question, there is another option, paying mostly with sweat equity. Sweat Equity This is where someone within your business devotes an hour or two a day to the activity and does so on a consistent basis. You save bucket loads of cash, and in exchange you or someone else in your business devotes their time and energy to learning and doing. Page 11 of 20

12 Organic Search vs Everything Else BrightEdge, a very large Digital Marketing agency, published an analysis of billions of webserver page loads, across the 8,500 brands they provide services to, in an effort to answer the question of where website visitors come from. The study was published in Aug of % of all traffic came from organic search. Additionally, the share of revenue derived from organic search is a minimum of 40% (for retail businesses) and is higher for other business sectors. The diagram below was taken directly from the referenced BrightEdge study. As you can see, attracting visitors via organic search is what gives you the biggest payout. Page 12 of 20

13 Search Signals Search signals are those aspects of a webpage (not a website, but a webpage) that are taken into consideration when Google ranks web pages in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). A sample SERP is shown below. Page 13 of 20

14 Google is very private about the specific details of their search signals, but rumor has it, more than 220+ factors are taken into account when ranking websites in a SERP. Page 14 of 20

15 However, by consistently focusing on a very small subset of them, you can obtain 90% of the result without having to stress every little detail. The most important search signals are: Quantity How many web pages does your website have? All things being equal, websites with more pages rank higher. Quality How good is your stuff? Quality has two aspects: 1) How well formatted is it for SEO? and 2) How useful is it? Expanding upon useful, in Google s Search Quality Rating Guidelines, they tell us that people search for three reasons. They want to: 1) Do something, 2) Learn something, or 3) Find something. Per that document, the more useful a webpage is in helping someone do one of those three things, the higher its quality. Consistency How often is your website updated? Longevity How long have you been publishing to your website? Who Knows You? In real life, the saying It s not what you know, it s who you know is simply not true. What matters is who knows you. The same is true with search. Who links to you? A link is a URL that starts on one webpage and references another. A back link is a link that starts on a website that isn t yours and links back to a webpage on yours. Backlinks are the original Google Search Signal (back when there was only one) and are still very important today. Page 15 of 20

16 Keywords I for one miss the days (pre Hummingbird) when an anal retentive focus on keyword phrases and keyword phrase analysis would make or break the success of your Inbound Marketing efforts. Things were easier then. However, Google s algorithm update named Hummingbird was the beginning of the end of the keywords being so incredibly important. While they re not yet unimportant, they re much less important than they used to be and become less important with each Hummingbird update. Today the focus is on publishing quality stuff that is useful to the audience you wish to attract. Marketing as Journalism (2) This idea is so important it requires two sections. It s based on the principal that while no one likes to be sold to, everybody buys stuff. When you do this on YOUR website and attract readers through Organic Search, we call it Inbound Marketing Marketing as journalism is both effective and not new. Pictured to the right is a magazine titled The Furrow, which John Deere started publishing in 1895 and distributed to farmers throughout America. To the farmer it was a source of useful information and articles. To John Deere, it was a marketing channel for selling tractors. It s still in publication, but today it s a website. Page 16 of 20

17 Sales Funnels Everyone who buys anything goes through a decision making process. This process differs for different products and services. It s important you understand what decision process your customers go through in the course of deciding to buy from you. You then walk your website visitors through their process on your website. Their decision buying process is YOUR sales funnel. A generic sales funnel is shown below. Page 17 of 20

18 Conversion Conversion is the process of someone transitioning from one step in their buying decision process to the next step. For most products and services full conversion from prospect to customer is a multiple step process. Using Inbound Marketing University as an example, the conversion process is: 1. Awareness of Inbound Marketing. 2. General understanding of how it works. 3. Understanding that a business with limited funds can do it themselves, cheaply. 4. Understanding that I am an authority and can teach them. 5. Selecting a payment method. Conversion is walking someone through your sales funnel, one step at a time. Page 18 of 20

19 Agile Marketing Agile marketing is a new phrase for an old common sense approach of: listen, learn, and adjust. What makes Inbound Marketing the most agile form of marketing in the history of history is the speed with which you can get feedback. With Google Analytics and Google Webmasters Tools (two free tools) you can find out what people did on your website as recently as yesterday. You ll also know what people think from the comments they leave. Listening to your visitors, prospects, and customers has never been easier or quicker. Success Factors Thomas Edison said it very well.. The reason a lot of people do not recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work. What it takes to succeed is what is listed above under Search Signals, overlaid with conversion. The success factors listed below were all discussed earlier in this document and are listed below to give an overview at a glance. Publishing The prime success factors related to publishing are quantity, quality, consistency, and longevity. Networking One objective of which is back links. Conversion Walking your visitors through their buying decision process. Page 19 of 20

20 Important Factors of an Inbound Marketing Program It s important you understand the concepts behind why you do what you do, so some lessons must be formatted as lectures. However where the rubber meets the road is in those lessons that show you how to do things in your Inbound Marketing website (which may or may not be your main website). Lessons must be short and focused with strong How to orientation. Theory is fine, but without guidance as to how you put that theory into practice, it s of limited value. For questions, you need access to the instructors and other students through a forum. Summary Inbound Marketing provides you with: The lowest cost per lead. The highest quality leads. Where Can You Learn More? You can learn more about Inbound Marketing training by selecting the link below. Inbound Marketing University Page 20 of 20

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