This is the fifth post in our Inbound Marketing 101 series intended to help B2B marketers boost brand visibility and generate better leads for their sales teams to convert into customers.
Within the awareness stage of the buyer journey, your prospects are most likely unaware of two things: who your company is and the fact that they have an unmet need that your company can fulfill.
As a marketer, your job at this stage is to not only create awareness of your company, but to also demonstrate that you have a strong understanding of who your target buyer is.
Your content should focus on your buyer’s pain points — not just your company, product or service – and how they can overcome them.
In our experience, we’ve found that thorough keyword research, a consistent stream of quality blog posts, an active social media presence and ongoing SEO enhancements are the most effective inbound marketing tactics for getting your unknown company in front of prospective buyers.
Keyword research is one of the most important and valuable inbound marketing activities. It all begins with words that your prospects are typing into their search engines.
Getting on the first page of Google’s search results for the right keywords can make or break your business.
By researching your market’s keyword demand, you can learn which terms and phrases to target, and understand more about your target audience as a whole.
Your company can then begin to identify what topics to create content for and which phrases to use while writing. It’s not just always about getting visitors to your site, but about getting the right kind of visitors.
Here are some things that your company should consider before completing keyword research.
How many ways can a visitor search for your content?
Keyword research requires you to explore all of the different keyword phrases that could be used to describe the same topic. Think about synonyms, adjectives, root keywords, etc.
Sometimes this is the most difficult part of the process as many companies are unfamiliar with keyword competition and select very broad words to target.
It is important that you find more specific phrases, usually more than two words, related to your business.
Does the content on your page resonate with the intent of the search engine query?
The key is evaluating the search engine results for each keyword phrase to ensure that the content you are directing them to is relevant.
How competitive are the sites that rank well for a particular keyword?
Make a realistic evaluation of just how difficult it might be for your page to rank high in search results, in comparison to the web pages already ranking well for a particular keyword opportunity.
Rather than focus on generic keywords, you want to focus on specific keywords that other businesses are not targeting.
Blogging is a proven inbound marketing tactic that can help attract more qualified visitors to your company’s website.
HubSpot research reveals businesses that blog generate 55% more website visitors, 97% more inbound links, and have 434% more indexed pages than companies that don’t blog.
A well-written, informative blog is a great way to get connected with visitors and build relationships with your prospects. By consistently publishing targeted blog content, your company has a much better opportunity to stay top of mind and encourages prospects to reach out to you when they want to learn more about the product or service you offer.
It can be difficult to keep up with your day-to-day responsibilities and the relentless need for fresh, high-quality content (especially if you rely on your own employees to create each piece of content).
Here are some things your company should consider before launching a blog.
Why are you creating a blog?
Before you do anything else, make sure you remember that blogging is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to have a sense of what you are looking to accomplish and how you will measure success.
Measuring effectiveness doesn’t happen overnight, and there isn’t one single metric that can be used to determine what is working best.
Who are you targeting and what do they want?
Once you have your goals in place, it’s then time to figure out who exactly your company will be creating blogs for, the types of questions that they may have at this stage and what types of answers they are looking to get out of your content.
Who is going to produce your blog content?
One of the big bottlenecks for blogging is, ironically, the actual blogging.
It is important that blog content creation does not fall on the shoulders of any one individual. You need to make sure that your company has the resources in place to consistently produce quality blog posts.
Effective marketers anticipate where their target audience is, and for many B2B companies that is often social media.
An active social media presence can increase engagement and help initiate conversations with your prospects. As a result, this can drive more traffic to your company’s website, filling the top of your sales funnel.
B2B buyers use social media to connect with brands and research potential products or solutions.
We see too many clients that are ignoring this essential piece to the puzzle, and as a result they are missing out on leads and potential new customers.
Here are some things that your company should consider before activating your social media presence.
Which social media channels should we use?
We help our clients identify their target audience’s two most preferred social media channels and start small.
By utilizing a test and learn approach, your company can begin to identify what is working and not working on these channels and, most importantly, apply these learnings to future social media efforts.
What content should we post on each social media channel?
If you are thinking about posting the same update on all of your social channels with a link to your content, you need to go back to the drawing board.
Buyers not only use social channels differently, but each channel has strengths and weaknesses that companies should be aware of.
You’ll need to know when your target audience frequents each channel and what kind of content they like to interact with.
How will your social media channels be managed?
Social media can be an affordable inbound marketing tactic from a dollars perspective, but it can be expensive when it comes to minutes and hours.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
Making your company’s content the best answer when prospects are searching for information is at the heart of SEO. But beyond publishing great content, you can take other steps to improve the likelihood that your prospects will find you.
Using the insights from your keyword research, you can optimize on-page elements for each web page and piece of content that you have published on your website.
This includes incorporating your keywords into page URLs, page headlines, title tags and other foundational elements to make sure your website is search engine friendly.
By targeting long tail keywords and integrating SEO best practices into your website, your company can rank higher and earn more relevant traffic from search engines.
Here are some things that your company should consider before making any investment in SEO.
Is SEO necessary?
Your target buyers do not use a phone book. They use a computer, smartphone or tablet to find what they need.
Any B2B company with a website needs to be visible when a prospect uses an electronic device to search for a product or service.
SEO will help position your website properly, so it can be found at the most critical points in the buyer journey.
Why is on-page SEO important?
If you make a conscious decision to pay attention to your on-page SEO, you will get more targeted and relevant traffic. It’s when you ignore it that you get lower quality traffic.
Visitors that reach your site using very specific keywords in their search queries are likely to be more educated about their problem and needs, and further along in the buyer journey.
How long does SEO take to start working?
You need to commit to SEO for the long haul. Many companies don’t have the patience to really “wait it out.” But you can’t just flip a switch and be on top of Google’s search engine results overnight, just because you’ve invested in content creation, keyword research and on-page SEO.
While you can see the technical changes immediately, feeling the true effect of those changes (and ongoing efforts) takes time. If you’re willing to focus on the long term gain and not lose faith for at least six to nine months, the results can be invaluable.