So… I have been working on websites for a number of years. Back in the day keywords were defined on the page in a place people couldn’t really view called the head section. Under that you would have a meta keywords line defining what you wanted the search engines to consider relevant to your page. As search engines became “smarter” this practice has fallen by the wayside. Now content is king. Search engines and their spiders or bots will crawl your pages (and their respective links) and pull out bits to more or less remember when someone looks for something. So – someone searches for guitars. There will be too many sites to even consider looking at. When someone is more specific – say searching for guitar repair in Brighton, Colorado – the result pool will be much smaller. If your web person has set things up correctly – hopefully your business will be in the top few listings in the SERP (search engine result page). By having proper usage of header text, great content, along with appropriate page names and a good user experience (which includes things like page loading speed, being mobile friendly and so on) and backlinks (people linking to your site from other sites) which give you some “authority” you can get your site moved up in the results pages.
Marketing – Outbound and Inbound
Traditionally, marketing has been something that interrupted your dinner – or it was when I was growing up. Billboards, commercials, magazine ads, popups in your browser and so on… this is outbound marketing. Basically, putting something out there (or doing cold calls or cold emails) and hopefully people see it, remember it and call you. Inbound marketing on the other hand is having information that is found when people search the interwebs. This takes time – to create content, have it shared on social media and when when people search for the solution to their problem (which is basically what people use the internet for) they will find your article (like this one) then go to your site – read it (and hopefully other articles while they are there) then perhaps share it, contact you or purchase something – depending on where they are in the purchase cycle.
In order to get this content – you need to understand who your audience is. This is sometimes referred to as a buyer persona. If you don’t know who you are trying to sell to you’ll be spinning your wheels and getting nowhere fast. In the example above about the guitar repair – I happen to know that most acoustic guitar players are male, over the age of 40, own a home, and have at least some college education completed. Knowing this, I can write articles (and perhaps email campaigns) that would appeal to or target this audience, how they think, how they search and so on. Perhaps I write an instructional on how to change strings. People who want to know how to change strings may read it and remember where they saw it. When they need some other service that they don’t know how to do – they may call me to work on their instrument.
Web traffic is not enough. You can have 10,000 unique visits a day and if none of them convert (become a buyer of something) then are you really getting anything? By collecting information when someone downloads an article such as email addresses and such you can send a newsletter with information or helpful tips and new offerings to a group of people who are already interested in your product or service. Basically, they are pre-qualified leads and potential buyers. Obviously your site has to be user friendly, and have the ability to capture this information and then actually do something with it once you have it. I am a proponent of educating people and not making them feel like I am selling them something – that’s just how I want to be treated, so that is how I do what I do.
You may also have heard about the buyer’s journey. This is made up of awareness, consideration and decision. In awareness people are trying to understand and put a name to the problem they are experiencing. In consideration, people understand what the issue is and what to know what options are out there to fix it. When in the decision stage the person may be making a short list of who can help them with the problem and then contacting them to make a purchase. You need content for all 3 stages. Why? If someone is in the awareness stage and you try to sell them on why what you offer is the best, that may turn them off – remember in this stage they want education – not to make a purchase. Like this article here – I am not trying to sell anything – I am educating, building trust.
Hopefully by now you see some of the benefits of inbound marketing. By creating and using the buyer personas, using the buyer’s journey, creating great content (with context i.e. who you are writing it for) then leveraging this content via distribution (webpages, social shares, calls to action, newsletters or other marketing email) you should see an increase in the good kind of traffic – that which converts.