When you’re in startup mode, there’s barely room for you to pull any punches, especially when it comes to promoting your brand and driving sales.
That’s why inbound marketing is one of the best opportunities for startups looking to attract and convert more people and businesses into leads and paying customers.
Inbound marketing is the act of creating valuable online content that attracts buyers to your brand. Content can be in the form of blog posts, infographics, guides, ebooks, reports, case studies, and more.
There are four main benefits you stand to gain by investing in a well-oiled inbound marketing machine. Firstly, it continues to pay dividends. Your content lives longer online and continues to attract and convert more site visitors into leads and potential customers.
Secondly, inbound marketing is also not as expensive as running a short-lived radio or TV advertisement.
Thirdly, inbound content is a more natural way for your buyers to learn about your brand, product or service, without feeling like they are being subjected to another advertisement.
Lastly, buyers get to experience your brand in a way that you can control. You determine the quality of your content. By producing high-quality content, you’ll be able to help buyers address important challenges on the path to purchase.
In this blog post, we’ll share 10 inbound marketing strategies to help you get in front of your target audience, provide value and start generating leads and sales. But before we jump into the 10 strategies, you have to have a clear understanding of the most important inbound marketing concept: personas.
Inbound Marketing: 10 Strategies Every Startup Needs
- Inbound marketing is all about knowing who you’re targeting
- 1. Start using video
- 2. Blogging still works
- 3. Build attractive downloadable offers
- 4. Create episodic content
- 5. Use social media to attract your ideal customers
- 6. Apply SEO principles
- 7. Host a free webinar
- 8. Use email automation
- 9. Answer questions on Quora
- 10. Use influencers to promote your content
Inbound marketing is all about knowing who you’re targeting
Knowing who your ideal customer(s) is/are and what they want can directly influence the content you produce. It can also mean the difference between more leads and sales, and a lot of wasted time.
You may have a set of personas developed for your startup’s marketing strategy, but most startups don’t. And when they do develop personas, they are incomplete or offer very little insights on their ideal customer(s).
Truth is, customers resonate and respond better to content tailored for their needs.
What kind of information should you collect to build in-depth personas to fuel your marketing?
According to Digital Marketer, you need to go beyond demographics. You want to understand the psychology of your ideal customer(s). To do this, Digital Marketer recommends that you find answers to the following about your persona(s):
- What goals and values matter most to them when it comes to business and professional growth?
- What challenges and pain points are they trying to solve when looking for a product or service like yours?
- What objections do they have when offered a solution like yours?
- What sources of information do they turn to when researching solutions like yours?
How do you find out this information? Interviews.
Guessing won’t do. If you have anything less than exact feedback from your ideal customers, you’ll miss the mark with your inbound marketing efforts.
How many personas should you have? It all depends on how many different kinds of people you sell to. It’s vital to be able to identify segments of customers, doing so will make your marketing even more effective. With this understanding of who and what your ideal customer(s) want, let’s dive into the 10 inbound marketing strategies you can apply to help grow your startup.
1. Start using video
We’re officially in the age of video.
It’s become the focus for social platforms because it’s engaging. And when done right, video can attract and convert more customers in less time.
Getting started with video isn’t as difficult or expensive as you might imagine. Today, you can create an entire video series from your iPhone. But before you point and shoot, get your narrative right.
You need to know how to tell stories, share valuable information, and do it all in a way that makes your viewers see that your message is authentic and worth watching.
Should you be selling with video?
Yes, but create a well-balanced ratio of helpful content and sales offers that you can promote on social media.
2. Blogging still works
While video is the new craze, blogging and written content is still widely sought after and valuable. But to get the eyes your content needs to, you’ve got to produce great content.
What makes for a great blog post?
The Skyscraper Technique is a blog post format created by Brian Dean from Backlinko. The idea is simple: create a valuable, well-written blog post that’s leaps and bounds above your competitors’ content. This means going into more detail, providing more examples, doing more research, and, altogether, offering more than anyone else.
Brian Dean saw a 110.94% increase in organic website traffic using the Skyscraper Technique
Next, share it with sources that will find it useful through an email outreach campaign. Doing this will help you get the word out about your new valuable resource.
3. Build attractive downloadable offers
People love content that’s free and provides tons of value. And when it comes to inbound marketing, free downloads have been proven to generate leads that convert into sales.
For example, by introducing a content upgrade, Backlinko was able to increase their email conversion rate from 0.54% to 4.82%.
To create an attractive downloadable piece of content, make sure it’s something that your audience really wants. Once again, this is why knowing who your ideal customer(s) is/are and what they want pays off.
Here are examples of high-converting downloadable content offers:
Backlinko offers special access to content not freely available on their site.
Hubspot offers its Buyer Persona Templates
Bidsketch offers a sample proposal
4. Create episodic content
Episodic content may seem like a complex concept, but it’s exactly what it sounds like. You’re creating content that tells a story, just like your favourite series or trilogy.
Does it work? Yes!
According to a case study conducted by Skylord, the average page views per article included in an editorial series they created was 124.3 percent higher than that of content published outside of a series.
Kate Spade New York creates a series using the hashtag ‘#missadventure’ to promote their retail product.
The key to producing great episodic content is generating great ideas around the challenges and pain points your ideal customer(s) experience. Unlike normal (non-episodic) content, episodic content is planned, structured and tells a story over time. This gives your audience the chance to follow along while providing a more complete experience of your brand, one that can accelerate the sale.
5. Use social media to attract your ideal customers
Social media presents brands with one of the easiest and more accessible means of getting in front of their ideal customers.
But to make sure you’re able to generate results, you must have a strategy to turn followers into leads and customers.
How? Structure your content to focus on providing valuable information (blog posts) along with offers (downloadable guides) to fill your marketing funnel. Using social media to generate awareness for your brand will help attract more of your ideal customers and generate more leads and sales.
6. Apply SEO principles
SEO is seen as a highly competitive and often out-of-reach practice for most brands. But if you apply basic SEO principles, you’ll be able to rank relatively well for search terms that can drive more website traffic and lead to more sales.
As you focus on producing more content, be sure to optimise written content (think service pages on your website and blog posts). Using simple on-page SEO will go a long way. What should you look to optimise for each piece of written content?
Here’s a link to a complete guide prepared by Backlinko. It includes 16 on-page SEO factors you can use to produce search engine optimised content: On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page (2019 Update).
7. Host a free webinar
Webinars are helpful and valuable for people looking for solutions to their challenges. They also help convert leads into paying customers.
Neil Patel uses webinars to sell his online marketing course. In fact, Neil’s strategy for generating hot leads is to offer an on-demand webinar on his website.
The best webinars are packed with value. They give potential buyers a glimpse at:
- How you can solve a problem they have
- What the solution includes, and
- What kind of results you’ve been able to help other people in a similar position realise.
8. Use email automation
Contrary to all the noise about email marketing being dead, it isn’t. Email is still one of the best and most effective tools for nurturing and converting leads into sales.
According to research by Litmus, brands using email can generate as much as a 38-to-1 ROI. But to make email work for your startup, you need to have a well-thought-out plan. You need to know how to take your leads from the top of your funnel through to the bottom. Digital Marketer offers a complete program that's called “The NEW Email Follow-Up Machine.” It’s all about how to use email to convert more leads into paying customers.
The best way to start your email automation machine is by building an email list of hungry subscribers. You can do this by offering a downloadable piece of content in exchange for their email address. By combining strategy 3 with email automation, you’ll be able to take your website visitors from prospect to lead and customer in no time.
9. Answer questions on Quora
Quora is filled with potential customers. To convert Quora members into leads, you’ll need to provide them with value first.
How do you provide value? Answer questions people ask about subject matter your startup deals with daily.
Using this strategy, Neil Patel generated 9,872 new visitor website visits.
When you answer, give detail, offer recommendations, and keep the door open in case the person wants to ask follow-up questions. Don’t forget to link to articles on your website that cover specific topics in detail. Doing so is a great way to generate traffic that can convert into leads and sales.
10. Use influencers to promote your content
Influencer marketing is booming! Research we performed for our 2019 Influencer Marketing Benchmarking Report showed that this growth has lead to the creation of 320 new software platforms designed and agencies focused on generating solid ROI for their customers. This points to one truth: influencer marketing grows businesses.
How do you position your startup for greater success using influencers? Find the right influencers and build relationships with them.
While some influencers will require compensation for promoted content, not all influencers will. As you come across influencers that have access to audiences filled with your ideal customers, start to produce content that you can share and tag them on. But be strategic.
Give them a really good reason to pay attention to your mentions and tags, as Adrian Hines did below.
With the right influencers, your brand will be able to strategically produce helpful content that your influencers will gladly promote because they see how useful it is to their audiences.
Startups are under pressure to pull out all the stops to generate results, making inbound marketing the smart investment. It can help grow your brand and generate short-term and long-term wins.
To experience growth using inbound marketing, your startup will need to deploy the right strategies. Using this list of 10 strategies and an intimate understanding of who your ideal customer(s) is/are and what they want, you’ll be able to attract more of your ideal customers, drive traffic to your website and offers, and convert leads into paying customers.