I have always believed that you’ll learn 10 times more about any subject through experience as opposed to a classroom, an article or a second-hand story. My time spent as an inbound marketing intern only reinforced that belief. There was almost too much to learn and I feel like I only scratched the surface, but here’s the big take-aways that I’ll carry with me for the rest of my career.
There’s No Such Thing As Running Out of Content
You blog and you blog and you blog. You tweet and you tweet and you tweet. So how does one keep coming up with ideas for original content? There has to be a limit somewhere, right? Wrong. I wrote so many articles on the same topic day after day that there were times when I sat at my computer and thought “well, today is the day that I fail to come up with an interesting post.” But that never happened.
Not every customer and person on the Internet reads every blog you write, so recycle and grow off your old content. It never hurts to review a subject and it’s often a good idea to do this since it reinforces your point to the reader through the mere-exposure effect.
One other tactic I applied when attempting to beat writer's block was to relate the industry to something totally and completely different, like inbound marketing and the Stanley Cup or the Boston Red Sox. It makes the blog more interesting and entertaining to your readers, as it’s probably something they’ve never thought of before. Content is key and it will help your company become an industry leader in no time.
Free Is Always Better
I’ll do anything for a free t-shirt. At school I feigned interest in clubs and activities or gave out my email just to receive a new pajama shirt. So to be honest, most of the time I wasn’t really paying attention in the point being made, but a few times the message actually caught my attention, and the messenger has the free t-shirt to thank for that.
I previously said that content is key; and therefore free content is an inbound marketing goldmine. While free content is free content and you’re not necessarily gaining any financial resources from publishing it, if you push out fresh and entertaining information you can create a need and interest for your product. Call-to-actions and landing pages like free eBooks and webinars are attractive and valuable incentives for your readers, and even better they help generate leads for your company. And leads turn into customers.
Google Knows All
Since I studied marketing in school, I had exposure to SEO strategies, but no one seemed to really emphasize its importance. I previously thought landing yourself on page one and two of Google was a great accomplishment, but now if I know if you’re on the second page of Google, you might as well be on the last. And Google’s ranking algorithm is always changing so it’s difficult to keep yourself among the top results.
Recently, Google has placed a high importance on content and is planning on moving further in that direction in the future. Online content has shifted from brochures, price sheets and testimonial pages to more interactive pages, like podcasts, inspiring blogs, personal videos and a relevant site subject matter. The site content has to be frequently updated in order for Google to know you’re an industry expert. Frequency, depth and recency are three things that Google looks for when deciding what pages to serve up for a particular keyword.
A university could probably offer a semester-long course on this topic for thousands of dollars, but I learned about it in one summer, and for free. Dabbling in a new area, even one that you don’t know a lot about, can pay off immensely in the future.
A Funnel Isn’t Just a Dessert
Before starting as an intern the only definition of a funnel that I knew was the fried dough cake served at theme parks and carnivals. But it’s much, much more than that and is an essential part to an inbound marketing strategy.
A funnel is the progression from website visitors and potential customers to highly qualified sales prospects. Use mass appeal tactics like SEO, blogs, social media, ebooks, videos, etc. to gain attention to your brand from those at the top of the funnel. The call-to-actions (and hopefully free content) at the end of these devices should provide a form for the readers to fill out, exchanging their contact information for another resource.
The people that act on the offer are now leads, have been sucked into the middle of the funnel and are ready to be nurtured and turned into customers. Provide more resources like buyer’s guides, brochures and product checklists to explain your services further and obtain brand and customer loyalty.
Those at the bottom of the funnel are the most likely already a customer and are ready to be presented with a final sale offer. You can land these leads by offering free consultations or a discounted price.
A funnel lets you understand how a casual blog reader became a paying customer so that you can refine your communication strategy and send highly focused content.
Need some more help with your inbound marketing strategy? Download our FREE Fundamentals of Blogging Cheat Sheet!
ImageWorks Intern: Lindsey Havansek