HubSpot Academy offers a wealth of information covering all aspects of running a business, from a broad overview of inbound to detailed lessons on data privacy. While I have yet to encounter a HubSpot Academy course that hasn’t taught me at least one new idea or tip, there are a couple courses I’ve taken that offer a wealth of knowledge that I can use day-to-day as a copywriter. One of those is a staple of the HubSpot inbound methodology — Inbound Marketing.
As a copywriter creating content for clients every day, I’m always thinking about how to market effectively and create blog posts, social media posts, and website copy that provides value to readers. As we all know, content is key to an effective marketing strategy. So to create effective content, I went back to the basics to understand how inbound marketing works.
The Inbound Marketing course has a little over four hours of content included and after completing it, I had six pages of notes covering everything from conversion strategy to lead nurturing. Although the entire course had interesting and relevant content to offer, I was most interested in the pillars of inbound marketing — the basics that everything else is built upon. So let’s take a look at the five fundamentals of inbound marketing.
A contact is anyone your business comes into contact with — whether they are an employee, a lead, a partner, or a customer. Everyone who engages with your business in some way is a contact. When you look at how many people can be considered contacts, it becomes obvious that you’ll need an effective, easy way to keep track of them all. That’s where a Customer Relationship Management software comes in.
Keeping track of all the contacts for your business is hugely important, especially as your contacts start moving through the marketing and sales funnel and become prospects, leads, opportunities, and customers!
A buyer persona is how you get into the head of your ideal customer. As marketers, we’re only human, and it can be a challenge to avoid creating content that you find relevant instead of writing to solve your customer’s problems. Buyer personas are a great tool to keep your customers front and center in all of your marketing strategy and content creation.
According to HubSpot, a buyer persona is “a semi-fictional representation of an ideal customer based on real data and educated speculation about demographics, behaviors, motivations, and goals.”
By creating robust, targeted buyer personas (and updating your personas regularly) you can more effectively speak to your customer’s needs and position your business as a solution to their problem.
There are three stages to the buyer’s journey: the awareness stage, the consideration stage, and the decision stage. In the awareness stage, a buyer is experiencing symptoms of a problem, which becomes clearly defined in the consideration stage. In the decision stage, the prospective buyer is deciding on the solution to their problem.
When considering the buyer’s journey in regards to your own marketing strategy, use your buyer personas to expand on each stage, keeping your business products or services in mind. What is the problem facing your personas? What are the symptoms of that problem? What is the solution your business offers? The goal is to align your content as closely as you can to your buyer persona's symptoms and problems, provide valuable content to speak to those problems, and naturally lead them to realize that your product or service is the best solution for them.
We all know what content is — every blog post, email newsletter, chatbot conversation, and page on your website offers visitors content to engage with and, depending on the quality and effectiveness of that content, moves contacts a little closer to being customers. Content marketing is the strategic decisions you make as a business to decide what type of content you put out, what voice and tone it uses, what value it provides, and who your audience is.
HubSpot Academy recommends crafting content in terms of topic clusters and pillar pages. This helps optimize your content and website for search engine results. While search engines used to be heavily keyword-based, there is so much content out there that search engine algorithms have been designed to find results based not only on keywords but also on key phrases or topics.
To position your business as a thought leader who has the answers to questions your customers are typing into Google, structure your website and content creation around pillar pages and topic clusters.
So, what’s a pillar page? According to HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing course, a content pillar is a “website page that covers a broad topic in depth and is linked to from a cluster of related content.” And your topic clusters are the related content that all links back to your pillar page. By creating valuable, topic-focused content that all points back to your main pillar, you can see significant increases in how your website ranks with search engines for that main topic, as well as for related phrases or keywords.
It’s hard to know how effective your marketing strategy is if you’re not keeping an eye on the analytics and setting goals. Your marketing strategy is designed to build awareness of your brand, increase interaction and engagement through your website and social media, and to turn your contacts into customers, all of which can be tracked to gain a deeper understanding of what areas of your marketing plan are working and which aren’t seeing results. By setting goals and keeping track of how well your business can meet those goals, you can ensure that your marketing strategy is working and avoid pitfalls like creating content that has no value and sees no interaction.
Remember to keep your goals SMART — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. By setting smart goals and continually building on your successes, your inbound marketing strategy can drive your business growth.
Inbound marketing is a powerful methodology for building your business, and HubSpot Academy makes it easy to learn the ins and outs of inbound. If you’d like to learn more about the building blocks of inbound marketing, check out HubSpot Academy or download our free ebook!