One of the requests we’re getting more of these days from our clients is to help create inbound marketing (IM) campaigns. This is a really useful tool if you’re working in a business or industry with a specific sort of audience and if you’re looking to give your website a little boost up the search rankings.
It works by building relationships with websites that rely on good, thought-provoking content and whose audiences have a healthy interest in what you have to say and, potentially, what you have to sell. Mutual interest is critical in these relationships – there’s really no point trying to convince the audience of knittersrus.com that they should be reading a blog post all about your latest skydiving equipment. Unless they’re extreme knitters, of course, but that’s another blog post altogether.
Digital marketing is evolving at a dizzying rate. Banner ads are so 1999 and, anyway, you can just download an app that blocks them altogether these days. Equally, shoehorning keywords into an article and hoping that your audience won’t notice doesn’t work – web users are just as likely to click off a site than face the hard sell. Meanwhile, Google and its rivals have, rightly, grown wise to the tricks of what are known as link farms – websites that sell link space and don’t do anything else – and are punishing sites that use them, all while constantly amending their ‘pay per click’ advertising criteria, making you work that much harder – or pay more – to beat the competition.
That’s why a nicely-executed IM campaign can make all the difference – you’re offering potential customers something interesting: content. Something to read over the lunch break, something that might just pique their interest enough that they’ll choose your brand over another.
One of the things that Google looks at when it’s deciding how to rank your website is the validity of your inbound links. These are links on someone else’s site that lead to you. And the best way to boost your ranking is to ensure that precious link is surrounded by top-quality content on an authoritative website, all backed up by a strong social media strategy.
The goal is to drive back organic traffic to your site, but to do it by offering the host site’s audience information and education about your industry, your expertise and, with a bit of luck, your unique offer.
A really good IM campaign uses a blend of art and science: the art of understanding a particular brand – its history, target audience, advocates – and the science of market analysis – where are these audiences and advocates hanging out, digitally-speaking? And, what are they searching for, which social media channels do they love and loathe?
We’ve been doing just this with one luxury brand for the past 12 months and are getting some really promising results.
Our client works in a fairly traditional market and, as such, has spent many years using conventional, often print-based, advertising techniques. These techniques remain important and valid, but our client recognised that the world has moved on and they wanted to try something a little different. And since customer service and experience has always been a key part of their offer, it was crucial that they continued to reflect that through their digital marketing.
An inbound marketing campaign was perfect for them: they’ve got years of experience in a very specific market and they were up for sharing their specialist knowledge with a broader digital community.
They’re a small team, though, and don’t have the time to be pitching ideas and writing the content, which is where Amy and Lisa come in.
By understanding our client’s position in their marketplace and finding out who their broader advocates are, Amy is helping to create and, more importantly, grow content partnerships and relationships with some high-profile websites whose audiences are interested in the luxury marketplace.
Meanwhile, Lisa works closely with our client, learning about their world, extracting their knowledge (carefully, using a Dictaphone, she’s not an evil genius – yet) and turning it into historical features, how-to guides, Q&As and listicles (think ‘Five things you didn’t know about Donald Trump’s hairpiece but really should’) that our new digital friends publish on their website. They get free, interesting copy and our client gets those all-important inbound links.
We knew IM worked, but our data analysis is showing us that the relationships that we are building are already driving new, organic, high-authority traffic back to our client’s site at a rate that has surprised even us!
The really beautiful thing about an inbound digital marketing approach is its sustainability, so long as it is executed correctly. What that means in practice is that we create every relationship, article, tweet and post with longevity in mind and, to do that, we always ask ourselves a few important questions, such as:
- How is this content helping the audience/customer?
- Does it offer the advice, entertainment, or information that they need?
- Does this content encourage someone to click through to our client’s site in the knowledge that it is a trusted source where they can find out more?
- Does this content reflect the client?
- Does it fit their brand, their values, their excellence of service?
- Does it give the reader a good sense of the experience and expertise they can expect to receive as our client’s customer?
- What opportunities are there to sustain and build on this IM relationship?
- What are the content partner’s needs, and how can we fulfil them to the mutual benefit of that partner and our client?
Building organic, authoritative traffic takes a lot of focus, effort and time. It also requires a strong, honest relationship between a digital marketing agency and its client. In this instance, our client understands what we’re trying to achieve and has been extremely generous with their time and support (and answering Lisa’s never-ending questions). In exchange, we’ve approached every aspect of their IM campaign with creativity, professionalism and market insight. Our goal is to make these relationships flourish long into the future and we couldn’t do that if we didn’t understand what makes this particular market tick.
If your online brand could do with some of this attention, why not give us a call? We’re happy to discuss your requirements and to explore how we could adapt our proven approach to build digital success for your company and brand, too.