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How to Use Inbound Marketing to Grow Your Business or Nonprofit Organically

Posted by Kate Olson | Jan 23, 2019 8:13:00 AM

Organic. For most of us this word conjures up thoughts of healthy, chemical-free, hormone-free products promising to improve our health. Lately, however, it’s become the new buzzword in describing a more internal, nurtured approach that allows you to grow your business or nonprofit on your own terms and timeline.

When it comes to growing organically, the process involves strengthening your organization by using its own energy and resources.

Now that we’ve deciphered the difference between organic food and organic business growth, it’s time for the fun part: learning how to grow your organization organically using the wonders of inbound marketing.

The world of inbound marketing offers a plethora of exciting channels to attract potential customers. It can honestly make a marketing geek like myself just a tad giddy. Before we go in to all of the options available, let’s take a look at the inbound methodology according to HubSpot:

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The philosophy behind this forward-thinking process is to position your organization to get discovered by your target customers or donors more easily, through diligently developing an online presence that provides a product, cause, and/or solution that meets their specific needs or goals. It then allows you to build and nurture an actual relationship with your contacts by helping them through every single stage of the buying/donating process. The end goal is to not only convert your contacts into customers or one-time donors but also to delight them so much that they become brand advocates for years to come. Now, you can’t tell me that doesn’t sound a little bit exciting!

So where do you start? From content creation, social media, SEO strategy, lead generation and management, and analytics, the variety of options may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but take it one step at a time and you will be well on your way to mastering the valuable tactics of inbound marketing and reaping the success of a growing organization.

Okay, it’s time to dig in. Let’s talk about these exciting tools of inbound marketing that have the power to propel your business to the next level.

The buyer’s journey

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The buyer’s journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service, or in the nonprofit world, find a cause they’re passionate about supporting. The journey is broken down into three key stages:

  • The Awareness Stage: The buyer has a problem and is looking for a solution.
  • The Consideration Stage: The buyer begins researching various options to solve the problem.
  • The Decision Stage: The buyer chooses the solution that best meets the needs of their problem.

As an inbound marketer, you want to use the buyer’s journey as a framework to help you both empathize and understand your buyers/donors. To successfully utilize this process, you will need to take the time to get to know your buyer personas and create various content throughout your website that will fit into one of these three stages of the buyer’s journey.

By taking the time to put yourself in the shoes of your buyers or donors and determining the information that will provide what your contacts are looking for, you increase the likelihood of attracting and retaining people who are the right fit for your organization. Hopefully, these customers and donors will not only remain faithful for years to come, but become your advocates as well.

Branding

hydration_media_branding_content.jpgCreating a brand for your company is one of the most valuable, strategic assets of your business. Think about brands that you recognize by simply seeing a certain symbol such as Nike, Volkswagen, or even Lululemon for all you hip fitness junkies out there. Your brand is not only the first impression you make but also the primary way your customers will identify with you for years to come. Your brand should not be a quick afterthought, but deliberately designed to ensure that it accurately and authentically characterizes your business or nonprofit. Think character, integrity, and transparency.

Content creation

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Blogging and premium content are key components of using inbound marketing effectively and growing your organization. In fact, according to HubSpot, businesses and nonprofits that blog receive 77% more traffic and 97% more links to their site than those that do not. Providing relevant blog content for your audience creates value and credibility that help guide your contacts one step closer to becoming customers or donors.

Calls-to-action

A call-to-action, or CTA, is a button or link that you place on your website to guide prospective customers and donors to become viable leads by filling out a form on a landing page. A CTA is the link between the initial content that attracted your potential buyer or donor and a page with a more valuable or informative offer, such as an ebook, that is both relevant and beneficial enough to entice your visitor to complete a short form with their contact information.

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CTAs should be:

  • Eye-grabbing visually with copy that compels you to click the offer.
  • Simple, with only a couple of words, no more than five is best.
  • Action-oriented: Begin with a verb like "download," “visit,” or "register."
  • Located in an easy-to-find spot that follows organically from the flow of the webpage.
  • In a contrasting color from the color scheme of the webpage, while still fitting in with the overall design.
  • Large enough to see from a distance, but not so large as to detract attention from the main content on the page.
  • Easy to understand and clear: Be sure to state exactly what the visitor will get if they click on the CTA and go to the landing page.

Social media

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So once you’ve created all of this great content, how will people see it? Social media is a gold mine for attracting prospective buyers and donors. In fact, there is an average of 2.03 billion people who have active social accounts and are online 2-3 hours per day. That is a significant amount of people looking for solutions to their various needs as well as donors looking for impactful causes to support that your business or nonprofit might just be able to meet. This gives organizations an incredible new channel to drive traffic and find new contacts. Using social media will allow you to promote your valuable content and achieve your inbound marketing strategy goals.

SEO

hydration_media-seo_strategy.jpgIt’s probably not a great revelation that 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine. This fact makes it easy to see why it’s so important to spend time optimizing your website so that potential customers and donors can find you! Although this task may seem like a huge undertaking, it can be quite simple if you know where to direct your focus. When you properly optimize your site and content for search engines, you’ll increase your rankings and get more traffic.

When it comes to SEO don’t forget to:

  • Include keywords within the page content, including not only the text but the header as well.
  • Include keywords within the page URL, meta description, and the names and alt tags of your images.
  • Link keywords in your content to other pages on your website such as blog posts, landing pages, and other relevant pages. This will help distribute SEO authority across your domain.
  • Be mobile friendly. More people use the search engine on their mobile phones than on desktop. And for all those valuable search queries being done on mobile, Google displays the mobile-friendly results first.

Search engine optimization is essential to marketers. When you optimize your web pages, which also include your blog posts, you're making your website more visible to people who are looking for keywords associated with your brand, product, or service via search engines like Google, Firefox, or Safari.

Lead communication

hydration_media_lead_communication.jpgSo, you’ve created great content, built a substantial social media presence, and are starting to rank a little higher on the SEO scale. You’re beginning to collect a viable list of leads that you want to nurture and start building a solid relationship with. Once you start bringing in all these great leads, it’s time to figure out how you want to communicate with them.

The strategy behind how you go about effectively communicating with your leads is based off of a number of important factors that include: who they are, what specific service or product they want, which questions they need answered, and how much communication they’ve had with you so far; because let’s face it, we all need a little space from time to time. Here are a few key points to take into consideration:

  • Evaluate your lead nurturing. This process is all about making sure a lead is qualified and sales or donor ready before they talk to your sales or donor management team. This helps ensure that your team isn’t wasting time on leads who may still be just window shopping.
  • Remember that timing is everything. You should time lead nurturing in line with your sales cycle, being careful not to bombard them with so many emails that they unsubscribe from all email communication. If your sales cycle is a few months long, time it so they get an email every few weeks.
  • Consistently refine your messaging. Tell them what they want to hear! If they downloaded an offer, then you know the kind of information that they’re interested in. Keep giving them relevant content, or ask more questions to find out what else they want to learn about.
  • Provide valuable resources. This is another area where your blog writing is time well spent. You can include your blog posts in relevant emails, encouraging your contacts to travel a little further in the buyer’s journey. This not only provides them with more information, but it gets them back to your website where they can interact with your organization a little more.

Analytics

So your hard work is paying off, and you’re seeing a lot of numbers coming in to your marketing platform that look kind of exciting. Making sense of what all these numbers mean is where understanding analytics come in. Analytic tools allow you to analyze your marketing progress so you can make adjustments to improve your ROI (Return On Investment). The fact is, however, that over 50% of businesses don’t have a reliable system in place to measure their most successful marketing channels. Especially in the inbound marketing world, keeping up to speed on the channels attracting the most traffic and conversions is paramount to knowing what you’re doing right and areas you can improve on.

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Here’s a simple breakdown of some of the key analytics to pay attention to:

  • Traffic
  • Bounce rate
  • Lead conversion
  • Inbound links
  • Engagement
  • Click-through rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Close ratio
  • ROI

When you have a clear understanding of your inbound marketing analytics and how they fit together, combined with continuous improvement in your conversion rate optimization (CRO), you will be well on your way to continued, successful growth.   

Our expert team is ready to help you get the results you’re looking for. Whether it’s content work, social media optimization, or a full site redesign, we can’t wait to chat about how we can help you reach your goals. 

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Topics: Inbound Marketing, HubSpot, Buyer's Journey

Written by Kate Olson