The Role of Social Media in Inbound Marketing: Strategy and Tactics
Posted: July 24, 2017
Part two of a two-part interview with content marketing specialist Hannah Richards
In Part One, Social Media in Inbound Marketing: Laying the Groundwork, Hannah laid some inbound marketing groundwork, revealing how inbound blog posts differ from traditional posts, explaining how to reach your intended audience, and how to create great inbound Facebook posts. Today, we’re going to dig into some strategy and tactics for converting leads into sales.
Q: Do you have a strategy that you use when writing an inbound post?
A: Well, the first thing I do is try to put myself in the shoes of the target audience. What types of questions would they be Googling? Then I would assess which of those questions I can answer for them, and use that answer to title my post.
For example: If your AC is broken you might be asking: “Why doesn’t my AC work?” or “How to Fix an AC Unit?” If I’m an HVAC company, the title of my post might be “10 Reasons Why Your AC is Broken and How to Fix It.” You want to think of it through your customer’s eyes, and let that frame your article. Instead of writing about what you want to tell your audience, write about the things they are already searching out – what do they want to know?
Q: What final touches do you add to your inbound posts?
A: When I’m finished writing my post, I go back to read it – getting out of my marketing mind and into the mind of the consumer. The difference between editorial content and inbound marketing content is that it’s shorter and easy to consume. You have to assume no one is going to read your entire post.
So the final touch is to edit the post with the following tips in mind:
- Make it shorter
- Use bold headlines
- Use bullets
- Add visuals
- Make it scan-able
Q: Do timing and frequency play an important role?
A: Yes. Timing is situational and depends on your business. I’ve known brands – say mommy brands – that post at 3 am, because that’s when moms are up breastfeeding. Or, if you are trying to go after a blue collar working audience, you might consider their limited access to social media during the day, so posting at 7 pm may be better. Timing really depends on your audience.
In terms of frequency, I’d say that with inbound it’s definitely quality over quantity. You can post once a day or once a week, but if you can’t sustain a schedule of really helpful, quality posts, then it’s better to post less frequently. Consumers and search engines like Google have gotten better at weeding out low-quality content, and it’s better to generate a stable of high-quality posts over time.
Q: How do you direct leads to your website?
A: That’s the big idea with the inbound marketing funnel; it provides a path for turning a stranger into customer. At each interaction, you want to seduce each prospect a little bit deeper into your world. They are finding out more about you and learning from your content, and you are learning about their interests.
Q: What are the steps for conversion?
A: Their first conversion may be a click on your post, a second conversion might be a click to your website. Eventually, the goal is to have them enter their email address to download a piece of content, or enter a contest or giveaway. At this point, you add them to your email list, send them an email, and begin developing a relationship with them. With Inbound, you are actually tracking individuals. You can see if a person has been to your website, what they’ve read, what they’ve downloaded. You can see all of this data on an individual basis. So instead of marketing to the masses, you’re marketing to individuals.
Inbound Marketing can generate leads – but it doesn’t create sales. Salespeople create sales. In order to be successful in generating customers you still have to be a good sales person and have a good sales team in place.
Q: Are there certain inbound strategies you’ve used that are more effective than others?
Yes, but the strategy really depends on your brand. If your target audience is moms, then you will need a different strategy than an auto company. The key is to generate well-developed personas and target audiences and understand who those people are both demographically and psychographically. Ask yourself:
- What do they like and dislike?
- Are they reading blogs, books or newspapers?
- Where do they spend time on the Internet?
- Where do they purchase?
You need to speak to different audiences in different ways. This is one of the key pillars of the inbound methodology: segmenting your audience and using that information to your advantage. Many companies use consumer research to segment their audience, but if that’s not realistic you can also do things like buying online consumer data, or conducting qualitative interviews with people you know in your target audience. The bottom line is to really understand who you are talking to as a brand.
Q: Is the shift to inbound a stretch for some companies?
A: Even though the concept of Inbound is fairly simple, it can be a challenge for some companies – particularly older ones – to adapt. A lot of startup and younger companies are founded on the Inbound principles, but older companies have more investment in the old ways of doing business, so it’s harder for them to let go and to try new ideas. Success speaks for itself, though. In my experience all it takes is a few good results from an inbound campaign to get the management team on board, or at least pique their interest.
About VONT Performance Digital Marketing
At VONT we believe that change is the only constant in the digital world – and that excites us. When tools and environments are constantly changing, new opportunities to help our clients achieve success are constantly arising. Each new advertising technology, social platform, or design approach allows us to improve on the results we achieve for our clients.
We believe in this idea of continual fine-tuning so much that we named our company VONT, which means to achieve exponential improvement in incremental steps. It is our core belief, and the reason why we are not simply a web design company or simply a digital advertising agency, but rather a long-term, single source partner providing a comprehensive array of web development and digital marketing capabilities.
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