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The team over at HubSpot have created a great infographic that covers How Inbound Marketing Works, From Start to Finish. However, there is only so much you can put in an infographic. The section that discusses the creation of your website is a little light, so we’re going to delve into that topic here.
Your website should be central to your marketing efforts, both online and offline. This is the only space on the web where you control the user experience from beginning to end, and it’s the best place to gather data about your customers.
Send traffic to your website
Far too many websites rely on Facebook, Yelp, Google+, or some other website to direct traffic to their business. Sure, you can probably bet that Facebook and Google will not be going out of business any time soon, but they both change their service offerings regularly.
Just look at the recent list of changes implemented by Facebook, or the decision to kill the Google Reader project. These changes may seem trivial, unless you rely on these services. Particularly, when you rely on them for your business.
With inbound marketing, you need to know that marketing assets you develop will not be phased out by a third party. The only way to do that is to create landing pages, blog posts, and other content on your own site. Social networks then become the spokes that drive traffic back to the hub that is your website.
Convert visitors into leads
When visitors take the time to follow a link to your website you need to make every attempt to convert them into a lead. This means you want to target your message and put it in front of the right audience.
This begins with the development of your pay-per-click advertisements, blog posts, social media updates, and other sources of traffic for your website. You want to make sure the message sent out to these traffic sources matches with the landing pages on your site.
For example, car stereo consumers may be looking for loud speakers or CD players. If a customer clicks a link on a social media post talking about loud speakers, they expect to find a landing page with more information about loud speakers and not CD players.
This is a very basic example used to illustrate a point. However, many inbound marketers find themselves sending mixed messages to their customers and wind up with a high bounce rate. Also, the best landing pages eliminate distractions and focus the visitor on completing a single objective.
If you don’t have your own website you can’t create these landing pages because someone else controls the advertisements and other distractions that appear on your page.
Transform leads into sales
When you match the right message on a great landing page with the right audience, you’re going to start building your leads database. The next step is to convert these leads into sales. As you move leads through your sales funnel, keep in mind that some leads are just waiting for some additional information.
Once they know they have found a solution to their problem and a company they can trust, they will buy your products or services. Your website is the place to address these common concerns. This makes it easy for future visitors to find the information they need when they visit your site.
Also, this can help to reduce cart abandonment from confused customers. Many websites have a FAQ section that addresses some of the most common situations that come up. However, you can also use your blog as a way to educate customers about the solutions you offer for the problems they are facing.
This is a great way to position your company as a market leader and showcase your products and services.
One of the best things about inbound marketing is the ability to learn about your customers. You will likely find that you get more B2B customers through social networks like LinkedIn. On the other hand, you’ll find that Facebook and Pinterest are great social networks for B2C marketing.
Measuring the traffic that comes into your website from each source is only the beginning. You should use an analytics platform that allows you to dig down into the data and learn more about your customers. Do you know:
- Which social network delivers the most sales to your business?
- Do pay-per-click advertisements result in sales or just traffic?
- Which of your status updates brought in the most leads?
If you can’t answer these questions then you need to spend more time with your analytics data, or implement a better program for collecting customer data.
Trying to develop an inbound marketing plan without having a great website is very difficult, if not impossible. Your website serves as the central hub for all your marketing efforts and your other accounts are spokes that send visitors back to the site.
This helps you qualify your visitors and focus on great leads which can be converted into customers. Additionally, you can collect the most information about your visitors and customers when they interact with your website. This makes your website an indispensable tool for inbound marketing.