One of the common objections we hear to adopting inbound marketing is, "My industry doesn't get leads from Google search—it's all word of mouth." We actually love to hear that, because it gives us a chance to explain the various tactics that go into a complete inbound program.
Inbound, after all, isn't just about being found in search. It's about your holistic online presence—how you're putting your company and brand out there and providing prospective buyers (and prospective employees) the answers they need at the time they're looking for them.
Having the Right Content
Think about this: Google estimates that up to 70% of the buyer's journey is done before they ever reach out to a salesperson. That means, regardless of how a prospect gets to your website, in this day, they expect to find certain content there. In other words, there is a wealth of information you can, and should, provide to your website visitors to convert them into leads.
Content takes the forms of your website copy, your blog articles, and advanced downloadable content offers such as eBooks, tip sheets, calculators, and case studies. Focus your content topics on the 5 types of most-asked buyer questions: cost, problems, comparisons, "best of" and reviews. Still not sure what you'd write about? Start by brainstorming with your sales team—ask them to identify questions they get asked in each of these 5 areas, and you'll no doubt have your first editorial calendar in no time.
Inbound Tactics Other than Organic Search
Blogging is an essential component of an inbound marketing program. The typical reason for this is to help you rank for keyword phrases related to questions your best prospects are searching. There are some industries, for example RFP-centric industries, where many prospects aren't searching for answers to the problem; by the time they get to your site, they're already considering potential solutions/vendors. Or perhaps you're in an extremely saturated industry where competition for keyword phrases is so stiff, your dollars would be better spent on other tactics than search rankings.
In these situations, your blogs may not come up in search, but they're still crucial to having content that can be promoted via other tactics. They also showcase that you're a company who cares about being helpful, knows what you're talking about, and is an industry leader. This helps your company's name be in a prospect's pool of potential solutions, regardless how they get to your website.
If you expect low organic search results, the following four components of an inbound program will play an increased role:
- Email: When you have a defined pool of potential website visitors, such as in an RFP-centric industry, email campaigns to curated trade lists will play a bigger role in calling out leads from the larger pool. By getting your content in front of these prospects, you can nurture them into and through their buyers journey.
- Social media: Social media platforms typically generate 2-10% of website traffic in an inbound program, depending on the industry. This is one area where if you're practicing inbound recruiting, promoting your company culture blog and content will pay dividends.
- Referrals: Building a strong referral network with trade publications and industry blogs is key when you can't rely on organic search. Establish relationships with editors at leading publications in your field, engage in discussions on their websites, and ask them to link to your content if it legitimately answers a question their readers have. You should also ask about guest author opportunities.
- Direct: Traffic from visitors who type the URL into their browser or have bookmarks saved is considered direct traffic. It may come from someone who knows about your company from a trade show or word of mouth, but the fact remains, your website still needs to have content for that visitor once they get there.
Setting Reasonable KPIs
When you have a narrower scope of website visitors due to limited organic search volume, you need to set reasonable expectations of KPIs for your inbound marketing efforts. For instance, a typical website converts visitors to leads at a rate of 1 to 2%. You'll need to identify the levels of activity and amount of content you still need to add up to the number of leads you need. In other words, if your goal is 5,000 website visits per month, at 2% conversion rate, that's 100 leads per month.
Even in industries where search volume is low, inbound marketing still make sense for two reasons:
- Organic search is only one source of traffic and leads. By focusing your efforts on activities that generate traffic from the other sources—email, social media, referrals, and direct—you can have a successful lead generation program.
- Inbound marketing is about using your company's holistic online presence in a way that aligns with today's buyers and prospective employees. If you don't have content that answers your best prospects' and recruits' questions, you're giving up a distinct competitive advantage.