One of the biggest errors new entrepreneurs make is failing to incorporate a solid inbound marketing strategy into their startup. Startups are known for being typically strapped for resources, so why would they spend their hard earned cash on inbound content? Believe it or not, integrating this approach into your marketing strategy could prove to be the magic elixir that boosts customer acquisition and hacks massive growth. So ditch the pushy sales approach and become a thought leader in your industry by following Wordsmith’s step-by-step guide:
Step #1: Determine your budget.
This should be the first and most critical decision your startup will make. How much money can you allocate to inbound marketing? Many startups initially budget for a mix of pay-per-click (PPC) advertising and organic traffic growth to develop a critical mass of customers before they completely shift their efforts to inbound.
However if your company creates truly unique content that successfully resonates with key industry influencers and end users, then there’s no reason why your traffic can’t skyrocket naturally. Just Add Ice Orchid’s inbound marketing strategy included free, helpful content about orchid care and watering reminders, which saw their sales increase by a shocking 75% in just one year, and Facebook likes up by 121%.
Step #2: Set realistic goals.
After determining how much to spend on inbound marketing, you need to establish measurable goals. For example, how much content will you need to produce on a monthly basis? How many leads will it take to generate buzz, boost your SEO or generate buzz? What is the lifetime value of a new customer?
Even though American Internet entrepreneur Evan Spiegel’s first startup company, Future Freshman, was a fast failure, his goal was to create a social media app that would change the future of conversations forever. Spiegel urges startups to adapt their inbound marketing goals and expectations if they’re not taking your company where you want to go. The most important thing is to set achievable goals. Five years ago, in a stuffy Stanford dorm room, Snapchat was born. Spiegel now provides transient content every second to 100 million daily users and partnering editorial networks around the world. With a US$16 billion valuation and 10 billion uploaded videos per day, any startup could stand to listen to a few pearls of wisdom from Spiegel.
Step #3: Close the gap.
Marketers have two main options when it comes to curating content; the first is to handle everything in-house from your marketing department, and the second is to outsource your inbound marketing by hiring experts and contract copywriters. According to recent research, 62% of companies are now choosing to outsource their content. Outsourcing is a more cost effective option, especially for startups that are typically strapped for resources and manpower. Employing outside help streamlines your operations, encourages faster turnarounds and ultimately increases your conversion rate.
Input from other agencies can also increase access to new technologies and boost your overall creative output. Many startup success stories have come about because of outsourcing specialists. For example, Skype, believe it or not, was initially developed by an outsourced team of Estonian developers deep in the “Silicon Valley on the Baltic Sea”. Skype now manages 44% of its workforce in Estonia and to date, the service has connected over 300 million people, and hosted nearly 2 trillion minutes of video calls.
Step #4: Incentivize your customers
Customers now want something deeper than monetary incentives, they want marketers to given them something they can’t experience anywhere else. Brian Halligan, CEO and Co-Founder of Hubspot, believes, “You can’t out-spend the giants...but you can out-think, out-teach and out-help them.” And this starts by creating interesting, useful content. From an inbound marketing perspective, companies should create a range of free and opt-in resources to encourage potential leads, including eBooks, podcast tutorials, weekly newsletters, blog posts, infographics and guest posts on relevant blogs.
Once you’ve established your company as an influencer in the industry, you can begin to introduce premium and gated content. Harvard Business Review (HBR) nurtures potential leads by providing customers with classic advice on strategy, innovation and leadership from the worlds best business and management experts. After building up substantial readership, HBR limited public viewing to 8 full articles a month, and invited readers to subscribe for unlimited access to their 50 best selling articles, free bonus gift articles and an opportunity to create their own personal library.
Step #5: Use out-of-the-box keywords.
Did you know that Google processes 3.5 billion searches per day, and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide? With mountains of content being produced every second, no wonder startups find it daunting when it comes to climbing Google’s ranking systems. Don’t worry, there are great ways to boost organic website traffic without breaking the bank, and at the top of the list stands content marketing. Research shows that organic results are 8.5x more likely to be clicked on than paid search results, so be extremely selective with your wording when putting together blog posts and creating web content. The trick lies in curating long-form content (articles between 2,000-4,500 words). Interestingly, using simple comparison keywords like “vs” will dramatically increase your company’s SEO, and help you reach a wider audience.
Queen of long-form content Joanna Wiebe, Founder and CEO of Copyhackers, ensures that every blog post is jam packed full of statistics, long tweetable quotes and unusual titles that attract a 50,000+ monthly readership.
Step #6: Amplify your efforts on social media
With over 2.3 billion active social media users, you’d be doing your company a disservice by ignoring these platforms. Even though it takes time to build a trusted social following, startups should never underestimate the long-term power of social media. Once you’ve created content that resonates with your target audience, gain traction online by dispersing that information across the most popular networking sites.
In 2014, Kayvon Beykpour, founder of livestreaming app Periscope, offered customers a unique user experience that let them be anywhere and witness anything from their smartphones. To make the app easily accessible and shareable, Periscope needed to leverage their viral content across social media platforms. Luckily, the startup quickly caught the attention of social networking giant Twitter, which acquired the company for an estimated US$120 million. Two years on, Periscope now boasts more than 10 million users, who watch 110 years’ worth of video every day!
Step #7: Turn visitors into leads with email marketing.
So, you’ve worked out your budget, organised a great outsourced team, and created a solid content plan full of useful articles … but you’re not getting any traction. Don’t fret. Instead, ensure that your content provides a clear “next step” for potential customers. Invite audiences to share their email to get exclusive deals and hot tips. This doesn’t mean you’ve sold your soul to outbound - quite the opposite. If you’re doing email marketing right by engaging consumers through meaningful conversations, it’s inbound. According to recent research email marketing alone yields an estimated 4,300% increase in ROI. At the end of the day - inbound or outbound, your goal is to create conversations that lead to sales.
Restaurant reservation software Resy produces irresistable email copy by giving customers hit lists on top local eateries around America. Following a clear step-by-step process, Resy customers can order great food, delivered to their doorsteps in minutes. Offering exclusive deals and coupons with customer registration, audiences feel compelled to connect.
Inbound marketing is quickly becoming an essential tool for startups. This cost-effective approach may seem like an uphill battle at first, but once you’ve established a relationship with a reliable copywriting team, sit back and watch audiences connect with your irresistible content.