Getting started with inbound marketing can be a challenge. How long does it take to start seeing results from it? How much does it cost to regularly generate content, utilize social media, and all of the other aspects of inbound?
Not everyone has the budget, but if you have the time (and some street smarts), you can still get started. The basics aren’t out of your reach!
You can always start writing (the hardest part is the first paragraph), and use any of the hundreds of tools, websites, and social media outlets available to reach out to potential prospects, influencers in your industry, and spread your knowledge and brand.
Here are 28 no-cost inbound marketing ideas that you can use to get started right now:
1. Create a basic marketing plan.
This will tell you where you’re most lacking. Is it top of the funnel, general content that attracts visitors to your site? Is it bottom of the funnel, detailed content that will convince a prospect to become a customer? With a little thinking and some math, you can define your funnel and channel your energy into the most efficient place.
2. Optimize your website’s copy for search engines.
This is a no-brainer. Pick your keywords, and change around the primary factors on your website that will affect it. Start with the homepage - optimize the title tag, headers, body copy, alt tags, and meta description. If you’re on WordPress, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin. It works very well, is intuitive, and will get you writing for SEO in no time. This free guide will also help you rank higher.
3. Start writing a blog article (it can be short).
The hardest part about writing a blog is coming up with the topic, but topics aren’t that hard to find, if you know where to look. You know what you do and the type of person that can benefit the most from it, so write about that!
Ask your customers what they love about you.
Write about a challenge you’ve had.
Write about a challenge a prospect or client has had.
Reflect on conversations with prospects, vendors, and clients.
4. Host an AMA.
You can do this through Google Hangouts, YouTube, or even on reddit. Everyone has a story, and people love learning from them. Make your Ask Me Anything open to the public and offer thorough detailed answers when appropriate. People crave this kind of expertise.
5. Post videos to YouTube.
Don’t want to write, but have a lot to say? Ok, there’s a small cost here for the camera, but if you have a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or webcam then this should be easy for you. Upload your videos to YouTube and optimize them for search and you’ve got yourself some fast, effective content.
6. Get on LinkedIn.
Hopefully you already are, but if you aren’t, you’re missing out! Everyone is on LinkedIn these days, and using groups, companies, and Pulse to reach more people, generate more leads, and close more business.
7. Update your imagery.
Do you have a lot of stock photos on your website? If you do, it’s probably pretty obvious to visitors, and it’s hurting your legitimacy and taking away from the content you do have. Find new stock photos from other, free sources (such as Stocksnap and Unsplash), or take your own!
8. Update your value proposition.
Here’s one of my favorite articles that has examples and tips to create your own value proposition. Once you know what it is, put it on your homepage, front and center.
9. Setup a blog subscription.
There are a bunch of free plugins for WordPress, such as Contact Form 7, that allow you to do this. They integrate with free email tools too!
10. Create a quick infographic using free tools.
Here’s a great article on free design tools that you can use to make one or more awesome infographics.
11. Repurpose your data, case studies, or content.
What do they still have problems with? How can you help them more than you already are? Everything that they say is an idea for content, products, or services.
13. Start sending emails through a free service.
There are plenty of free tools to do this with a small audience - MailChimp, Constant Contact. Start small, and as you grow your subscribers and database, eventually you might need to upgrade.
14. Check reddit, Quora, LinkedIn Groups, and other tight-knit communities.
These communities will give you ideas for what people are looking for, talking about, and want to learn more about. You can also engage with them and share your expertise - that’s why people go to those groups!
15. Reach out to blogs you read and offer to write content.
You read them all the time, so you know what they’re writing about. As a regular reader, you’re most likely qualified to write a post about the same subject matter. Don’t attach any strings to it - but make sure you get at least a backlink to your site, it’ll help you gain domain authority and get more visits to your site.
Tag it with keywords, and you’ll get SEO juice as well as shares. You can even embed the presentation on your website.
18. Run a Twitter poll or a Facebook question.
These are fairly easy to set up, and can reach a good number of people. They’re easy
19. Write a “how-to” of one of your go-to tactics.
Prospects will read it, and if they like it, they’ll see the value in talking to you. I’ve done this with a mega post on local SEO - yes, that’s the exact process we used. You can do it too!
20. Share your favorite content.
Where do you go to learn about what you do? Could your readers benefit from that? Of course! Share it with them, and let the people whose content or website you’re sharing know, because then they’ll share your content as well!
21. Write about influencers.
Reach out to them individually.
22. Post to aggregators/outside channels.
Such as Medium, Digg, reddit, and other sites like that.
Newsjacking is riding the wave of a newsworthy story with your own twist. David Meerman Scott is the founder of the newsjacking movement, and has tons of resources on his site that will get you moving in the right direction.
24. Talk to clients and ask for testimonials.
What do they love about you? What do they dislike? Put what they love into a blog or post it verbatim on your website - those are conversion gold right there.
25. Install Google Analytics and Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) on your website.
This is the point of Inbound Marketing. Be as helpful as possible to everyone you meet, it will pay off in the long run.
Build it and they will come
Remember that inbound marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t expect to generate a hundred leads overnight, but you can expect to generate more and more results over time.
Everything you do - every piece of content that you put out, every tweet that you write, every email that you send - builds on top of everything you’ve already done; write a blog post now, and it’ll still be generating leads for you next year, and the year after that.
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