5 Ways to Improve Your Inbound Marketing Strategy This Year.pngInbound Marketing has proven to be extremely effective not only in generating leads, but building a brand that customers and prospects enjoy interacting with. But not all inbound marketing strategies are created equal. In order to stand out from the crowd and get your voice heard, it’s important to continue to tweak and improve your strategy as you go. While you may have seen some great success this year, in order to keep up the momentum consider using what you learned to enhance your inbound marketing strategy going into the new year.

With the rise of content marketing, Inbound has become more essential to growing your business online than ever. The problem is, you’re not the only one doing it. As more companies get into the business of attracting leads via content, the ones that add extra value are the ones that will get noticed. While it can be tempting to just do more of the same, it won’t produce the results you really want. “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” ― Henry Ford. Below are 5 things you can do to improve your Inbound strategy this year.

#1 Blogging With a Twist

Did you know that 16% to 20% of searches people ask in Google have never been searched for before? This means that no matter how unique your niche is, it’s very likely that people are searching for content around it. Blogging is a great way for your company to share what it’s doing, the problems it’s solving, and connect with your customers on a more personal level. Your blog is your company’s voice. While content can help you rank for important search terms, that should not be your blog’s primary goal. In fact, by shifting your blog’s focus, you will most likely achieve better rankings than ever.

Here’s what I mean. Google’s primary goal is to deliver the most relevant piece of content to the user in the shortest amount of clicks. They want to help people find answers to their questions, solve problems, or entertain themselves. On the flip side, many businesses blog around the purpose of ranking for keywords and have a mindset of more = better. This leads to tons of content that neither serves the user nor the business.

This year focus your blog around the people you want to read it. Take time to understand their needs, goals and aspirations. Answer questions and provide valuable advice. Sure, it may take a little more time to create, but the value it will give is worth the investment. Check out this post to see how shifting your blog’s purpose and strategy really pays off.

#2 Connect Using Email

Email is still one of the main forms of communication in the business world. While chat services and business social communities have helped make conversation a little simpler, email is not going away anytime soon.

The problem with email is very similar to the problem with content. Each day we get hundreds of emails and about 10 – 15% are actually relevant to us. This leads to massive unsubscribes or emails being marked as spam. Email is still a great way to connect with someone one-on-one. Sadly, most marketers and businesses with email lists never take the time to personalize.

Most of the people who graciously give their email information expect that the individual or company who is obtaining their information will respect it. They signed up because they believed they were getting something great in return. So, let’s give it to them. Instead of sending random email blasts whenever you need more leads, use email to create a dialogue with your subscribers. Share deeper insights and make them feel valued. This will not only increase engagement but can even lead to your subscribers telling others about the value you create for them! Here are a few examples of companies who are doing email right.

#3 Putting the Social Back in Social Media

Social media has changed the way we all communicate and interact. Less than 10 years ago most of us couldn’t care less what our friends were eating for lunch or who our high school sweetheart married, but today we know all that and more! From a business perspective, social media has created a way for businesses to show their “human side” and connect with their audiences.

One of the biggest mistakes made with social media is treating all of the platforms the same. To be honest, I’ve made this mistake. The good news is, you can adjust your strategy to meet your goals. Here are few quick tips.

  • Define your audience: You need to know who you want to reach before you can reach them.
  • Create content they want to engage with: Focus your content around your audience’s needs.
  • Determine the channels your audience uses: Know where your audience is and go to them.
  • Post and Engage: Post your content as well as interact with others on the channel. You need to give back. Remember, social media is about being social and building relationships!
  • Measure and tweak: Measure your results and make adjustments as needed.

For more details, check out this practical blog from HubSpot.

SEO is one of the most misunderstood, yet crucial, parts to any online marketing strategy. When people have questions, they ask the search engines. Sometimes searches are done on a computer, but now more than ever they are done on a mobile device or with voice search. Getting found is about a lot more than just having a ton of content. It’s about having the right content with the backlinks to prove it.

Visuals are a great way to add value to your content, increase the shares and even prompt others to link to your articles. If you are in an industry that is considered “dull” or “boring,” infographics are a great way to make your content more interesting. How can using infographics improve your search strategy? It makes your content more shareable and linkable. In fact, there are a number of visual content sites you can post your images to and get high-quality free links.

Want more reasons to use visuals in your SEO strategy this year? Here’s a great article all about that!

#5 Doing More With Video

I recently wrote a post about the rise of video. Video has been a hot topic for a few years now, but the funny thing is many still aren’t using it effectively. What makes video so powerful is the ability to create an instant emotional connection with the viewers. While live video is great, those who aren’t watching miss out.

On-demand video has increasingly become the dominant form of entertainment. People love to watch what they want when they want. Creating high-quality videos that your users can watch anywhere, anytime is a powerful way to engage your audience and add value. Think of them as webinars that start when the user wants them to.

There are many advantages to creating on-demand video content, but here are my favorites:

  • They give you more time to focus on high production value and editing
  • They allow the presenter to talk on-screen directly to the audience, as opposed to (less human) full-screen webinar slides
  • They relieve much of the stress caused by technical glitches associated with live webinars
  • They have the potential to bring in leads and product signups for months without much active effort after the initial launch. No more breaking your back only to rely on the ROI of a very specific time slot

For more insight into the use of On-Demand Video, check out this post from the Moz Blog.

This year could be your best year yet, but it will require that you put in the time to build a better strategy and the flexibility to adjust along the way. By stepping outside the box slightly, you can use the tools of inbound to drive more leads, increase revenue and delight your customer base like never before. Don’t settle for an average inbound marketing strategy this year. Build an epic strategy that demands results.