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Remember the good old days when the internet was like the wild west? There were no complicated content rules, no Google rankings to deal with and just having a website was a pretty big deal? Heck, social media looked nothing like it does today and you didn’t need gmail to sort your email into 3 bins for you.

These days, everyone has a website. Some even have separate sites for different products and services just for the SEO benefits. Searching online has almost become a reflex action for most of us and that means everyone and their dog is online and on so many more devices than ever before.

Plight of the lone website

One of the more common responses we get from businesses when we ask about their marketing strategy usually involves a feeling like they’ve been ripped off by their previous development team. They’ve been updating the Facebook page and they’ve been putting up a new product spec sheet once in awhile but they aren’t seeing any results. The problem here is that like so many companies, they are active with so many facets of their business that they’ve put all of their digital eggs in one basket and left it out on the porch hoping someone will stumble upon it and buy from them. For a website to truly attract leads these days it needs to be so much more than simply an online brochure.

 

A goal without a plan is just a wish. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

People’s buying habits have changed. They expect to find answers to their problems and content that helps them get to know you and trust your expertise. The fact that you are here reading this article means that you’re aware of this. So let’s get ahead of the curve with an inbound strategy, shall we?

1. Update that site!

If your site has been around for awhile and you haven’t updated the site with any new content in months, then there’s no incentive for a visitor to return or convert to a lead. Your prospects need to receive the same helpful experience online that they would in person.  One way to start doing this is through blogging. No one knows your business like you do, so your industry expertise is good as gold. Whether you’ve got any formal writing experience or not doesn’t really matter. Your knowledge base is what prospects are looking for so they can inform themselves on making a good purchasing decision.

2. Social media is not optional

The majority of marketers (59%) are using social media for 6 hours or more each week. (Source: Social Media Examiner)

The above statistic tells you just where marketers are attracting visitors and just how important social media has become. Use social media to promote your site and blog, use it to share helpful information and most of all just get out there and talk to people. Think of social media like a networking event. You wouldn’t show up and sit in the corner, would you? How helpful is that?

 

Well, looks like there's nobody important here. Guess I can wear these same clothes tomorrow.

Here’s a quick look at some of the social media networks you should be on based on your type of business:

B2C: 1. Twitter 2. Facebook 3. Google +
B2B: 1. Twitter 2. LinkedIn 3. Google +

It’s not hard to get started, either. Get your feet wet by posting a couple times per day and start following some important industry people in your area. If you’re already active on social media, you can start sharing blog content, interacting with people and getting into conversations.

3. Start email marketing

Another great question we get often is “should I still consider using email marketing if social media is around?” The answer is yes and here’s why; Twitter has over 300 million active monthly users and gets heaps of attention. That seems pretty good, yet there are still 3.1 billion (with a B) active email accounts in the world. Which would you say has the largest reach? It’s no contest. Another thing to remember is that email is great for client retention and lead nurturing. If a visitor needs to visit your site about 7 times before they make a decision then nothing works better than something that gets delivered right to them.

4. Offers & calls to action

Your website likely has a call to action somewhere already. You’ll typically see them in the form of a call now or a buy now button or something of the sort that is extremely end of sales funnel for the user. So how can you engage visitors that aren’t yet at the point of sale?

We need to think… what can I offer people who are just getting to know me? Is it an ebook about how to fix a common problem? Is it an introductory coupon offer? Is it an offer for a free service or an invitation to an event? Whatever the offer is put the offer in an actionable button and shoot it to a landing page that captures visitor information so you can begin collecting valuable lead data.

Here’s a great article from Hubspot on The steps you need to define the stages of your Sales & Marketing Funnel.

These four methods are just the tip of the iceberg of what is called inbound marketing. When it comes to making sure that your website generates ROI, an online marketing strategy gives you plenty of ammo to fight for visitors, leads and customers. So quit bringing a knife to the wild west gunfight and start pistol-whipping your competition into submission.

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