15 Actionable Inbound Marketing Tactics Every Small Business Needs

Posted by Manage Inbound's , last updated on

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If you’re looking for some realistic, actionable inbound marketing tactics you can use on your site today, then you’ll love this article.

It’s a simple checklist that will activate social sharing triggers and increase your brand awareness every time you hit that publish button.

But more importantly your visitors are going to love it.

Dreaming of the day your content stands out and actually gets read?

Increase your odds today and create your best content with these 15 sure fire inbound marketing tactics:

Bonus: Download our 15 Actionable Inbound Marketing Tactics to go from novice to expert in 90 days. Includes 2 Bonus Tips not found in our blog post.

The importance of relevant and quality content should not be understated. You need to have an inbound marketing tactics with every piece of content you write.

You can begin with consistency and a schedule.

1. Stick to an Editorial Calendar and Your Reader Will Be Begging For More

It is always fun to brainstorm content ideas. And it’s so important to understand when and where you’re going to publish. However there’s more to the event then just scheduling a blog post every Thursday at 7 a.m.

3 BASIC COMPONENTS OF AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR THAT ACTUALLY WORK

√  A good calendar will help map your content to your personas and the buyer’s journey. Your personas help you create the right content at the right time.

Think of it this way:

Two things you need to consider when thinking of your piece of content: Who are you trying to reach and what content will be must interesting or helpful for them.

√  Organize your calendar and know who is responsible for what. “It takes a village …”

  All participants in the creation, design and implementation need to know your editorial style guide. Simple examples would be the voice or tone of the content and the length of the posts you publish.

2. Target the Right Stages of the Buyer's Journey and They'll Stick

Try not to baffle your audience..

You want to create content that your readers can use. We all don’t jump online ready to purchase.

In # 1 we said know who you are talking to.

#2 Know where they are in their buyer’s journey. This will ultimately lead to higher conversions for you. You’ll get better at bringing them through the buying cycle.

But you knowing they can enter anywhere they want, makes you smarter at your inbound marketing.

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source: Marketoonist.com

3. Be Human – Write Like You Speak

Even if you have a few colloquialisms and funky words. Don’t worry we had to look up the word too. Basically a colloquialism is a simple word or phrase used in informal language. The words suited for everyday use. 

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Marcus Sheridan, author of The Sales Lion, noticed the trend that most people don’t write like they talk. He noticed many bloggers write better in their comments on other blogs then they do in their own posts. So he wrote a post, 7 Ways You Can Learn to Write Like You Talk.

Here’s a few of his “funky words” he uses in his writing:

Dufus

Ding-Dong

Barf

Shnikees

Wacko

Dude

Dang

Pretty Un-stinking-believable!

source: Tips from Literary Legends

4. Make Your Content Reactive – You'll Tap Into Their Desire to Share 

Sharing online content is an integral part of our society today. In a study conducted by Jonah Berger and Katherine Milkman, they looked at New York times articles to assess which got shared the most.

“They found that positive news was more likely to go viral. Most people like to be the “bearer of the good news” rather than a “Debbie downer.” They also found that content that elicited high-arousal emotions such as delight, astonishment, excitement, awe, anger, frustration or anxiety got shared more than one that evoked low-arousal or deactivating emotions such as sadness.” 

So make your content reactive. Write content that triggers positive high arousal emotions and informative.

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Reactive content is a proven tactic to build links, get likes and comments on social media, drive traffic and get your brand mentioned.

We are really talking about blog posts here. And the long form content at that.

But here’s an awesome example of how reactive content can go viral and take over the web. Timing is everything…

“During the Super Bowl XZ VII 2013 the stadium was plunged into darkness by a power cut. This was the perfect reactive moment for brands watching the event to spring into action. Oreos image was one of the most shared pieces of content from the event.”

Simple and usually not the case. Most instances content marketing will be more data driven and comprehensive. But instead of being the “Debbie Downer” when the lights go out, Oreo rose to the occasion:

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Somebody’s light bulb was on…

Oreo’s team took action and posted a simple ad that was retweeted, or shared, more than 14,500 times on Twitter.

source: wsj.com

5. Post Long, Useful, Meaty Content That Your Visitors Will Eat Up

We showed you the quick and dirty way using social media.

Let’s face it:

Times like that are similar to finding a needle in a haystack. But when you do the rewards are “Un-stinking-believable!”

Based on SERP data from SEMRush, we found that longer content tends to rank higher in Google’s search results. The average Google first page result contains 1,890 words. Which means you’ll be found …more shares.

Let’s for the sake of things, throw the whole thought out on “what google wants” and think of what your visitor wants. Remember you are writing for a person that is in need of something. You are gonna solve their problem.

Real life:

You are laying awake at night gripped in fear trying to solve a problem. Trying to pay your bills. Trying to launch your product or business. You turn to the “google machine” and type in your problem you are having day in and day out.

You find a piece of content that details every step you need to solve your problem.

It’s fully packed with “how to”, step by step educational information. Do you think you would re-visit that site again for information?

Long form helps your visitors and builds your brand. Win-Win for both.

Now you are an authority in their eyes.

6. Your Personality Will Win Your Readers Hearts

Understanding your target audience is a worthwhile exercise to say the least. Humor in your content marketing can be effective. A small business must be willing to make their content fun, simple and relatable.

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Nothing breaks up a presentation, a class or a blog post like some relevant humor sprinkled in. But adding humor doesn’t mean memorizing jokes or being impersonal! When it comes to inserting humor into your content, make it natural. This takes practice, but it can be learned, even if you’re not naturally “funny.”

Tips to add humor:

Tip #1 Make humorous observations in real-time

Tip #2 Make it natural

Tip #3 Point out irony

Tip #4 Make a witty, relevant reference to a current event (Oreo did their job here)

Your visitors will remember your humor. In return they will remember product, services and company as well.

7. Use a Content Marketing Plan for Unfailing Results

According to Content Marketing Institute, 70% of the marketers surveyed said they’re creating more content than they did the year previously.

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Can you see why it’s time to up your game?

9 STEPS TO YOUR ULTIMATE CONTENT MARKETING PLAN

Step 1: You need a documented strategy to be more effective at your content marketing.

Step 2: Establish clear and concise goals. Write them down.

Step 3: What is it you are trying to accomplish with this 1 piece of content? For example; drive more traffic to your site, capture emails, promote a new product…

Step 4: Create an engaging, unique and worthy piece of content. Keep in mind your style guide and length of post.

Step 5: Give this piece of remarkable content away for “free”. It will keep your readers’ coming back for more. This inbound marketing tactic is one that will not disappoint.

Step 6: Break down your piece of content into easy, digestible pieces of content. We will make this post an infographic or slideshare. This helps you reach a broader audience and highlight key elements.

Step 7: Build awareness and share or promote across the most effective social media channels your audience is hanging out.

Step 8: Take it a humongous step further, conduct email outreach and link building to the influencers in your industry.

Step 9: How do you find your perfect influencers? Grab our extra bonus tips in the PDF at the bottom of this post ;)

“Content Marketing is a long-term play that can deliver a substantial return on your investment if you build a smart strategy and efficiently execute against that strategy.”

Curata put together an infographic on the content marketing pyramid that provides definitive and in depth support across all aspects of your content marketing practice: the planning, process, and ultimately the performance. Read all you want to know on The Ultimate Content Marketing Strategy [Infographic]

Speaking of infographics.

Did you know?

8. Illustrations Assist in Teaching Humdrum Written Content 

If you knew that people following directions with text and illustrations do 323% better than people following directions without illustrations, would you create more infographics for your readers?

Well now you know…

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source: 37 Visual Content Marketing Statistics You Should Know in 2016

It’s been proven internet readers pay close attention to information-carrying images a.k.a. infographics. And it certainly doesn’t hurt they are liked and shared on social media 3x more than any other type of content. We can’t make this stuff up. (source)

It simplifies your point. And gives your readers a clearer idea of what your subject matter is all about.

By the end of this post, we know you’ll want the express version, attention grabbing, memorable and all inclusive infographic. Guess we better create one!

We get it.

We are not all readers. Many people prefer visuals. Infographics help people understand and retain information quickly.

An estimated 84 percent of communications will be visual by 2018. Brands need to evolve, however there will always be the need for content writing. Remember big brother, Google, is always watching and loves the long written word.

So give everyone what they want. An infographic on your blog with the written word!

9. Keep Your Peeps Awake – Create Compelling Images

There is nothing more boring than a website with a bunch of text rolling down the page.

Can you say, Boing?!

That’s your visitors bouncing off your page as fast as they landed.

According to The Nielsen Norman Group, the vast majority of your visitors will make a judgment within 10 to 20 seconds of opening your content whether they should stick around – or whether they should bounce.

Bounce rate is an internet marketing term used in web traffic analysis. It represents the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave (“bounce”) rather than continuing on to view other pages within the same site.

If they don’t like one page…

they won’t stay around to look at others.

Educate, entertain and showcase your brand’s personality through images.

So exactly how much does visual content really matter?

Here’s a stat we found on Content Marketing Institute, “Content with images gets 94% more views than content sans images.”

Every article should have a featured image. It will increase engagement and draw attention to your content. We understand this isn’t new and exciting but with stats like that… so worth a mention.

Bottom line:

Images matter.

How many images should you include?

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source: Blogpros

Sprinkle some images throughout your content. Your readers need to take a rest from all your text. No matter how great you think your writing is!

A proven rule of thumb, add one image for every 350 words.

The other scientifically proven statistic states our brain processes visuals 60,000x faster than text. Images stir emotion. Emotion drives our behavior.

Again, nothing new. We have always processed images instantly. The human brain has to work harder with text.

In a study conducted at the Wharton School of Business, fusion is key. Mix text with images and you have a winner.

10. Why Most Subheading are Ghastly & How You Can FIX'EM 

Our original subheading was: Use Sub Headings to Easily View Your Content. (yawn)

Reading that subheader again, we realized there was definite room for improvement.

Let’s face it.

Your visitors are scanning your content and you can’t always give away the goods. You have to create a little curiosity.

Just like a good headline…

And what do headlines do?

“They hook, they entertain, they shock, and, above all, they create curiosity. They pull readers further into your epic content so they stay with you long enough to realize that it is, in fact, stellar writing.”

What the headline does for the post, the subhead does for each individual subsection of copy.

Use subheadings to break down your content into bite sized pieces.

Evidence-based user experience research explained how users read on the web.

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In a control test situation, they discovered that their scannable layout, using the same text as the control condition in a layout that facilitated scanning, the online content boosted readability by 47%.

Use headlines that are enticing. Incorporate bullet lists that are concise and you’ll be on your way to creating viral content that the masses will enjoy.

There’s a great blog post on The Ultimate Guide to Writing Irrestible Subheads. Gary takes you on the wonderful adventure of why your readers don’t stick around and the 3 subhead blunders that make your readers bounce… boing.

(published first on Modgility: 7 Tips for Making Your Blog Content More Skimmable)

11. The Secret Sauce to Gain Website Traffic Over Time

Sharing content related to trending topics in your industry is always a big hit.

You know first hand they have the interest. And if it is news-worthy it will get shared alot.(for a day or two)

But what makes great content and will drive gobs of traffic to your site OVER TIME?

Simple…

content that sticks.

You need to create a piece of content that is useful and relevant in your niche.

Evergreen content is relevant for an extended period of time. Your main purpose with evergreen content is to provide value and get your brand recognized. Think of it as your piece of paper that makes you look knowledgeable and an authority in your niche. An expert if you will.

Types of evergreen content:

  1. We’d like to say a post similar to this, that is data driven and informative. (with a little humor)
  2. How to “Resource Guide”or Tutorial. You provide very specific steps on how to solve a problem for your readers.
  3. Interviews can be evergreen and shared on podcasts, blogs, videos
  4. Your industry definitions. We did a post for a client with common acronyms and jargon phrases in their industry. More than likely the definitions will not change. You write content once and reap the rewards.
  5. Infographic. If you’re referencing thoughts, ideas, and trends that are always true, then the infographic is evergreen. (source) Example of evergreen coffee infographic.

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source:infographic

It’s worth noting few blog posts can be created that will always be totally up-to-date over a long period of time.

Consider the proven action from Brian Dean at Backlinko; an internationally-recognized entrepreneur and SEO expert, 2 of his last 4 posts were recently updated and they crushit in the SEO arena.

12. Oddly Choice – Don't Pussyfoot Around State a Number and Generate Clicks

Ever think of using odd or even numbers in your title? 

Do you even think of using numbers in your title?

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The crazy thing is “headlines that contained odd numbers had a 20% higher click-through rate than headlines with even numbers.” (source)

Reader attention is at an all time high with the variety of content and social media channels. There has never been a time with so much content competing for attention.

So put a number on it!

The image above is a quick sample of the front page of the content aggregator, Buzzfeed.

Their top 3 articles were “number” headlines.

Do you think that is by chance?

The studies show “number” headlines resonate more with readers.

Headlines in general are just as important as the content you are writing. They will capture your visitors attention. The concept is to hook your reader’s interest.

Numbers reach directly into our unconscious and say, “this message is important”. And according to the experts, numbers as figures/digits (i.e. “5”) work better on the Web than numbers that are spelled-out as words (i.e. “five”).

An article written on, The Write Direction, relates numbers to brain candy. “Our brains are attracted to numbers because they automatically organize information into a logical order.”

And let’s not forget that scanability concept we talked about in number 10 of this post.

13. Optimize Your URL That Mom Will Understand

You knocked it out of the park with your headline.

What about that long URL?

You’re not going to keep it, are you?

You want to focus on your keyword here more than you do in your title.

Here’s what we mean…

You want your keyword in your headline. (somewhere). There were days were everyone expressed the keyword must be the first word or words. But as human beings we realize it might not be as marketable.

Don’t kill the messenger.

We’re not saying that way doesn’t work. We are merely stating, there are times it does not make sense and just sounds awful.

Here’s an example from one of our favorite SEO experts.&nbsp

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Brian Dean gets the keyword toward the front of the headline but is fine with a “number” and an adjective beforehand. His keyword is the URL.

It’s not that long headline.

Google is smart. It knows if there is some over-optimization going on. A great combo is your optimization in the URL and you’re not so stringent on your KW placement in your headline.

14. Weave More Storytelling Into Your Content and Get an Action

Are you using storytelling to ignite a feeling in your readers?

We wrote a piece on this before, How to Become Better Storytellers, it was included in our 17 Content Marketing Tactics.

It’s time to go deeper.

Think about it…

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for thousands of years, storytelling has been in existence. We are wired for a good story. 

Cavemen spoke in their native tongue through their drawings of the woolly mammoth.

“The ancient Egyptians used the distinctive script known today as hieroglyphs (Greek for “sacred words”) for almost 4,000 years.”

They wrote on papyrus, carved in stone and would decorate objects they used in their daily life.

So to say creative storytelling is new would be absurd.

Creative storytelling has proven itself to be a powerful way for content marketers and marketers alike to share their ideas.

Let’s face it…

your business whether you know it or not has all kinds of awesome data to share. But data can be very boring!

In an article on Forbes, Brent Dykes, Director of Data Strategy at Domo commented “people hear statistics, but they feel stories“.

He went on to quote Google’s Chief Economist Dr. Hal R.Varian,

“The ability to take data—to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it—that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades.”

We think that decade is here and now.

If the data is confusing and isn’t compelling, no one will want to act on it…like through a click, download or an email subscriber.

All that work and you get nothing, nada, zilch.

So what is “data storytelling” and how will you create the action or change you need to occur.

“Data storytelling is a structured approach for communicating data insights, and it involves a combination of three key elements: data, visuals, and narrative.” (source)

It explains why an insight is important. It adds a visual to your insight and your audience can see why it’s important. Infographics are best at adding the sight value your readers need.

A data table just doesn’t cut the mustard. Who can see anything in rows and columns of data? You need to massage those numbers and make them presentable.

Now add in remarkable content with your visuals and you have yourself a story.

And if that’s not enough for you…

A study by Stanford professor, Chip Heath and author of the book, “Made to Stick”, discovered 63% remember the stories. Only 5% remember an individual statistic.

That is how powerful stories can be.

photo credit: Emotion

15. Blog Regularly See a Positive ROI

Blogging in general is a great opportunity to share value with your visitors. There are two schools of thoughts now-a-days when it comes to the written word. Some believe it’s dead, while others believe it’s the mainstream norm.

We believe it has evolved.

On a recent podcast on Social Media Marketing with Mark Schaeffer, marketing consultant and blogger at businessGROW.com and Mitch Joel , president of Mirum and a blogger at TwistImage.com; have the same sediment “Blogging is  not dead, it’s different.”

“People are not reading less, people who want to read have more choices.”

Social media is a kind of mini blog post but it runs faster than a speeding bullet. Take twitter for instance, every time you hit refresh how many new tweets do you have. Hard to keep up with it and your tweets will get lost if you’re not “tweeting” constantly. And there really is no point to using twitter as a social media platform if you are not engaging and interacting with your audience.

We are certainly not here to bash Twitter. We use it as well. But do you really think it will convert your visitor from an awareness stage to usage? Twitter is known by 87%, but just 7% of Americans use Twitter. Read more on 7 Surprising Statistics About Twitter in America

Our point is….

You might as well have the benefits of your own blog and tweet from there :)

Ideally you embrace content marketing and all its’ glory.

More businesses offer free white papers, ebooks and infographics to compete with the overwhelm of information on the web. These are a few content formats to enhance your potential customer’s buyers’s journey. The availability of content at the awareness stage helps your visitors in making an informed decision that will conceivably lead to a purchase.

Content marketing is a primary business tool.

Salesforce Research surveyed nearly 4,000 marketing leaders worldwide to reveal how the industry is changing. Here’s a stat from the marketing research report that should have you creating engaging content in a matter of minutes…

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Among marketers who agree content marketing is core to their business, 48% see a direct link to primary revenue.

Adopt a customer journey strategy through blogging and use as part of your overall business strategy.

Here's How to Use These Inbound Marketing Tactics For Your Small Business

We made a free Inbound Marketing checklist for you that will help you put these strategies into action before you hit publish again.

It outlines — step-by-step — exactly how to use this game plan we chatted about in this post…including 2 bonus tips we paid $,$$$ for.

Download Our Free PDF Inbound Marketing Tactics PDF

blog author

Ginny Dwyer

Ginny is a Hubspot certified inbound marketer helping companies build their brand through blogging, social media and other inbound activities.