Switching from an outbound to an inbound marketing approach can be a highly impactful way to drive efficiencies in your marketing activity.
Indeed, an old but oft-quoted –– and still relevant –– HubSpot study indicates that inbound marketing-dominated organizations enjoy 62% lower average costs per lead than outbound-dominated organizations.
But it’s not just about saving money. Inbound marketing can also be a more effective way to make money online (and offline, too), provided you get your tactics right.
To help you do just that, let’s take a look at three detailed inbound marketing strategies to supercharge your revenue.
Make it Easy for Searchers to Find Your Website
By definition, inbound marketing is all about customers coming to you, rather than you reaching out to them through tactics like cold calling and cold email.
And in a world where more than two-thirds of online experiences begin with a search engine, one of the most critical elements of any inbound marketing strategy is good old-fashioned search engine optimization (SEO).
Why? Because it makes your website more visible online, which means searchers can find you without plumbing the darker depths beyond page one of search engine result pages (SERPs). So it’s not surprising that “growing SEO / organic presence” is consistently recognized as the number one priority for inbound marketing-centric organizations:
Okay, so SEO is important. You likely already knew that.
And you likely also know that optimizing your website isn’t an overnight process; SEO strategies typically require months of hard work spanning multiple facets of your site, from the keywords you target on key landing pages to the makeup of your backlink profile, which you can identify using a free backlink checker.
Frankly, it’s hard to know where to begin, but the following are all good starting points to boost your search visibility. You can also check out reputable SEO courses, some of which are even free. N.B. check out Rivmedia’s step-by-step guide to SEO for new websites for a much more detailed explanation.
Tactic 1: Target Long-Tail Keywords
As the name suggests, long-tail keywords are (typically) longer and more specific than more common keywords.
Because of that added specificity, they’re generally:
- Less competitive, simply because they’re less broadly relevant
- More likely to convert
For example, the keyword “SEO for Lawyers” generates 1,700 searches a month and has a keyword difficulty of 39, per Ahrefs. It’s a highly competitive short-tail keyword.
Meanwhile, the more specific keyword “local SEO for lawyers” averages 200 searches a month, but is much less competitive, with a keyword difficulty of 13. And because it’s so much more specific, people searching for the phrase are more likely to buy.
So how do you find those juicy long-tail keywords? One of the best ways is to use Answer the Public, which uses Google autocomplete data to compile lists of commonly searched phrases related to a seed keyword. Here’s a few examples based on our keyword “SEO for lawyers”:
Use your keyword research to optimize content, titles, and H-tags across all your key landing pages, and also to inform your content marketing activity going forward.
Another tip is to invest in a keyword research tool like Ahrefs or SEMRush.
Tactic 2: Improve Your Page Speed
Having a site that loads rapidly across all device types is one of the leading search engine ranking factors.
After all, the likes of Google and Bing want to know that the sites they’re effectively “recommending” through their search algorithms provide an excellent user experience –– and searchers hate being kept waiting! According to Pingdom, almost two in five users will bounce if a page takes more than five seconds to load.
Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to see how your key pages currently perform and find opportunities to help those pages load faster.
Tactic 3: Nail Your Technical SEO
Technical SEO is the real meat and drink of an inbound marketing strategy. It’s not the most glamorous work, but it can have a massive impact on performance.
To be clear, technical SEO refers to factors like:
- Page titles: Are they targeting the right keywords?
- Header tags: Are they targeting keywords that are relevant to the page title? And are they arranged in the correct hierarchy (i.e. one H1 tag at the top of the page; H2 tags for subtitles; H3s for sub-subtitles; etc.)?
- Meta descriptions: While not a direct ranking factor, meta descriptions are essentially free adverts within SERPs. Strong meta descriptions can improve your click-through rate, which many SEOs believe is a ranking factor of sorts.
- Schema markup: Use it to add further detail and context to how your page appears in SERPs, such as dates, authors, and review scores.
- Image alt tags: Add relevant keywords to image alt tags to help them show up in search.
Getting those elements right across your whole website will take time and effort. But once you’ve done it, your site will be well placed to generate plenty of relevant, qualified traffic, which ultimately means more revenue.
Optimize Your Site for Conversions
As the previous section demonstrates, there are a lot of steps involved in optimizing your site for search.
In short, getting traffic to your site in the first place is difficult. So, in an ideal world, you want each and every visitor to convert.
Realistically, that’s just not going to happen. Some people just aren’t in a position to buy right yet; others might never be. But it’s still clearly in your best interests to ring every last cent from all the visitors who do end up on your site. That’s exactly why there’s been such a dramatic increase in search interest around the phrase “conversion rate optimization” (CRO) over the last couple decades:
Again, we don’t have space here for an exhaustive guide to CRO –– if that’s what you’re looking for, check out this article on top conversion rate optimization techniques. But here are some general pointers:
Tactic 1: Improve Your Headlines
Typically, the first thing a user sees when landing on a webpage will be the headline. That means the headline has a lot of heavy lifting to do. It needs to:
- Demonstrate that the user is in the right place
- Compel them to keep reading or scrolling
- Potentially hint at the action you want them to take next
You’ve got limited space in which to do that. Research from BuzzSumo shows that top-performing headlines on Facebook and Twitter contain 10 – 14 words and are approximately 65 characters in length.
Get those various elements right and you can expect to generate more sales and revenue; get them wrong and you’ll see an endless stream of users bouncing straight off your key pages as soon as they arrive.
Tactic 2: Level Up Your CTAs
Calls to action (CTAs) are a critical factor in conversion rate optimization, because they clearly demonstrate what you want the user to do next.
Effective CTAs are:
- Easy to find: Don’t force users to hunt around for the “next step”. That’s why CTA buttons work so well.
- Packed with action-oriented language: CTAs containing action phrases like “Shop Now” and “Learn More” compel the user to click and convert.
- Transparent: It should be obvious what’ll happen next when a user clicks the CTA.
- Benefit-driven: Likewise, it should be obvious what benefit a user will gain by clicking a CTA.
- Consistent: Don’t confuse the user by using bright yellow oval CTA buttons on your homepage and dark red rectangles on your category pages.
For example, Flamingo has the same easy to find and action-oriented CTA across their website:
Tactic 3: Streamline Your User Journey
Simply put, it should be quick and easy for a user to:
- Land on your homepage or landing page
- Find the product or service they’re looking for
In reality, that’s easier said than done. There are any number of potential user journeys –– one potential buyer might arrive on your home page, click through to a product page, then buy straightaway. But another might directly on a product page, then start clicking deeper into the site for further information, before returning to that product page to convert.
But it’s possible to make broad improvements to your user journey by:
- Adding popular links to a sidebar menu, or in page copy, so they’re simple to find
- Including regular, prominent CTAs pointing to the next step in the user journey
- Using easy-to-understand language in your site navigation, so users know where each click will take them
Expand Your Email Marketing List
With an ROI of for every dollar spent, email marketing is one of the most effective ways to increase your revenue.
But your email campaigns will only deliver results if your marketing list is up to scratch. If it’s several years old, packed full of inactive accounts and people who rarely or never interact with your emails, don’t expect email marketing to drive many (or any) sales. In fact, the lower your email engagement levels, the more likely your emails are to be marked as spam –– in which case, no one will ever even see them.
In other words, a key part of inbound marketing is to keep that all-important email list up to date and brimming with people who are interested in what you have to say.
Once again, there are a whole lot of ways you can do that. Different tactics will work for different brands and industries. For an e-commerce brand selling a relatively low-priced product, you can entice people to sign up for your newsletter with a 10% discount. But if you’re selling a SaaS product priced at hundreds or thousands of dollars a month, even a relatively small discount could represent a massive chunk of revenue.
However, here are a few all-purpose tactics you can use to freshen up your marketing list:
Tactic 1: Offer An Incentive
By 2022, the average person is expected to receive 333 business and consumer emails a day. That’s so many emails! So even if someone is genuinely interested in your brand, you need to give them a clear reason to sign up for your email list and bring yet more noise to their inbox.
In other words, you need to offer an incentive.
As I mentioned above, a lot of brands will offer a discount in exchange for a user’s name and email address. But that approach just doesn’t work if you’re selling a high-value product or service.
Bridesmaid dress brand Revelry gets around this issue by positioning newsletter signups as a competition rather than a guarantee of an X% discount:
That’s a smart tactic. We all know how expensive anything related to weddings can be, and bridesmaid dresses are certainly no exception; a 10% saving could add up to hundreds of dollars on large orders.
By offering a chance to win a $200 discount, Revelry has created an attractive incentive without eating into its margins.
Tactic 2: Keep Lead Capture Forms Short & Sweet
In the never-ending quest to better understand our audiences, it’s tempting to ask a bunch of questions at the newsletter signup stage –– where are you from? How did you find us? What are you shopping for? What’s your dog’s nickname?
But asking too many questions puts people off. HubSpot research shows how form completion rates drop when forms have more than three fields:
We’re all busy, so the more information you ask for, the fewer people will take the time to complete your form –– and the fewer names you’ll have on your email list.
Tactic 3: Use a Single-Column Layout
To avoid taking up too much space with your data capture forms, you might want to utilize multiple columns.
In a word: don’t.
There’s plenty of evidence to demonstrate that users get confused when forms contain more than one column. Indeed, The Baymard Institute warns that these forms are “prone to misinterpretation”, because users often:
- Fill in unnecessarily or incorrect fields
- Miss out key fields altogether
By way of demonstration, check out this graphic from The Baymard Institute that shows a few of the possible ways that multi-column forms can be misunderstood and incorrectly filled in:
Either way, these forms leave users frustrated, which can dramatically affect completion rates –– and thereby hurt your email capture efforts.
Bringing it All Together
One reason outbound marketing still exists is because it’s immediate.
Hire a salesperson and get them smashing the phones. It’s labor-intensive, but you can start seeing results straight away.
In comparison, inbound marketing takes time. You can’t expect to improve your SEO, optimize your site for conversions, and build an engaged email list in a day or two.
But unlike outbound, once you put in the work, the rewards will keep on coming. It’s extremely sustainable and highly efficient. And that makes it well worth the effort.
About the author: Freya is the founder of the personal finance blog CollectingCents that teaches readers how to grow their passive income, save money, improve their credit score, and manage debt. She has been featured in publications like Business Insider, Fox Business, the Huffington Post, and GoBankingRates.