The Difference Between a Blog on Your Website and Inbound Marketing
Not all landscapers are the same. And certainly the same is true for landscape architects. This of course applies to content. Not all of it is the same - not even when compared to 20 blog posts here versus 20 blog posts elsewhere.
We often hear business owners in this industry comment on their adoption of inbound marketing with their blog. Some may even write a couple (or several) posts a month. They wholeheartedly feel they have incorporated the inbound marketing approach.
Blogging doesn't equal inbound marketing. Yes, it's absolutely a key element, maybe the foundation. Blogging alone doesn't drive an increase in qualified leads.
Inbound marketing is a methodology. A combination of tactics that all fit under one umbrella to deliver results for your company through your website - and nothing else can achieve similar results in today's search world.
Inbound marketing involves creating and maintaining a strategy. No, not those one sentence strategies that say you want to grow revenue! The strategy includes really defining your top 2 or 3 different types of customers. Researching where they live, what they search, what prompts them to start thinking about your services (which starts several months before they call you). What is their life like. Thankfully, we live and breathe this industry, so we already have most of these details, but each company is different.
Then you've got the top keywords these folks search. Sounds easy? What you think they search may not be reality (most of the time, we have found what you think they search is not what Google says the search). Every region, in every business, in every different customer segment, these search terms vary. What you may call installing an addition, your future client may call a home remodel (as an example). But if Google suggests this keyword is only searched 35 times a month, there is more digging to do.
To wrap up strategy, we help define your revenue goals - using timelines, regional obstacles (and benefits), industry trends, and other relevant info. We create a plan of types of content to use (blogs, guidebooks/ebooks, videos, illustrations, etc.), decide on social media platforms, and the frequency of it all - so that it all directly aligns to your goals and brings you results.
Okay, now on to more fun stuff: the core. Blogs aren't just written using keywords. Google is smarter than that. Any keyword stuffing will throw your site to the back of the line (go from first to fifth page) in no time. Blogging is about writing content related to those keywords. There is more though - your future clients don't just immediately search for the terms that are equivalent to your services. They have a starting point, such as improve entertaining (eventually, months later, resulting in a pool design and build) or increase children's playspace (eventually, months later, resulting in a house addition). Your business has to be there when they start thinking about it, then, when they start budgeting for it, and then finally, when they are ready to buy. There are steps in this cycle of buying. Blog posts have to be developed for each step in the cycle, all aligning to keyword intent (again, not necessarily the exact keyword).
Written offers, such as guidebooks help you convert these visitors that have read your blogs to fill out a form - share their info with you - and allow you to engage with them. Little by little, through email, and then phone. Without these offers and forms, your blogs - no matter how well they are written are useless: they've given you traffic but will not help turn these visitors into leads!
Content, all of it, your blogs, your guidebooks, and other thoughts are distributed to social media accounts. They key- they're delivered for a purpose; whether its for a specific persona or specific action - or simply to keep customers happy so that they can bring you referrals.
There is more to inbound marketing: automated messaging/emails to contacts that have completed forms or on social media (to take them through sales cycles without a sales rep). Building a relationship with each person, individually, without actually doing it individually. You're not taking any shortcuts in the relationship building. Your simply communicating with them how they'd like to be communicated with, at their pace. No email blasts to everyone with the same info. Only personalized info here.
How do you know how you're doing? With Inbound Marketing, you have reporting and analytics to help you track how each blog is helping you.
Back to the key question: the difference between having just a blog and inbound marketing is the intent. Just having a blog will not bring you traffic and leads. If it's a blog that is infrequently updated and poorly written, or full of short posts - then it won't bring you any traffic. Inbound marketing is a blueprint with a clear intention - to bring you traffic and leads... and ultimately customers!