Being Helpful is Key to Inbound Marketing
I hate the feeling of “being sold.” But I sure like the feeling of “being helped.” How we define what a website is all depends on what we’re feeling. And how we feel is critical to how we respond to content delivered to us from good inbound marketing practices.
Which begs a good point: Are websites more effective as sales tools or as electronic guidance for potential customers?
To really understand what a website is for, we need to think about who the Internet serves. It’s tempting to think cynically and argue that it serves commercial interests, but that’s getting the cart before the horse. The Internet serves buyers and information seekers and the latter of the two is what we’re focused on with inbound marketing.
What your visitors are really looking for is a website that helps them. A website with content that helps them buy when they want to buy. Helps them understand when they want to understand. And – most importantly – a website that helps them decide when they want to decide. That’s inbound marketing strategy.
So if you really want to build trust, credibility, authority, and site loyalty, helping visitors is the way to go. Of course, that’s not to say you have to do it for free. We’re all in business to make money after all. In fact, the main aim of many of your visitors will be to buy something. But it’s important that you focus on them, not on you. For example, your visitors don’t want to know what you have to sell. They want to know what they can choose to buy. If your primary focus is sales, your visitors will pick up on it.
To generate revenue from our websites through good inbound marketing practice, we need to build them to help our readers. Don’t start by asking “How can I sell?” Instead, start by asking “How can I help?” (Even “How can I help them buy?” is a step in the right direction.) The key to successful online help is to always try to answer one simple question: What does the reader want to know? We knew they wanted help, but did they want reference information or how-to information? Did they want to know how to get started or how to get out of trouble?
Sure, when you’re writing for a website, the subject material is different, but the question is still the same. What does your reader want to know? Obviously, the answer to this question will be different for everyone, but there are some common questions you can ask yourself which might help you decide your inbound marketing strategy.
- Who is your audience?
- What time of the day are they most likely to be searching?
- Are they searching from home or their workplace?
- Are they relaxed or in a hurry?
- Are they spending their money or someone else’s?
- Are they trying to solve a problem or avoid a problem?
- Are they looking to buy immediately?
- How much do they know already about your subject material?
How much do they want to know?
Whether you do some real research or just make some educated guesses, it’s important that you know your visitor very well. Then, and only then, can you help them.