In my last post we talked mostly about how to set up your website, get it optimized, and how to start writing content that your potential customers are looking for. The name of the post sparked some discussion about how everything I discussed may not cost much, but definitely takes time. This is absolutely the case with my previous post and this post as well, but one thing you need to remember is that all effective marketing takes time regardless of if it is online marketing or offline marketing.
In today's post we are going to be discussing two inbound marketing techniques that will not only bring backlinks to your website or blog, but also bring targeted traffic. When you are a small business owner or even a marketing director on a limited budget, it might feel painful spending some or all of that budget on link acquisition, but I can tell you this, it's not as painful if you are bringing potential customers to your website in the process, which is what inbound marketing is all about. The first technique that I would like to talk about about today is comment marketing.
Right now, you're probably asking yourself, what in the world is commenting marketing? Most of the online marketing world refers to this technique as blog or forum commenting and most believe that it is a very spammy technique. I don't believe it to be a spammy technique, unless all you are doing it for is a quick link and you aren't adding any real value to the blog or forum. Let's talk about how to be a legitimate and respectable comment marketer.
Let's start off by talking about why comment marketing is an effective inbound marketing technique. First and foremost, by identifying and commenting on high profile blogs and forums in your niche, you start to build credibility in the community. That is ultimately my end goal when it comes to comment marketing. If I can gain the trust of others in the community, I start to build brand advocates and guess what brand advocates do? One, they come to your website and often times purchase your products and services and two, they link back to your website which strengthens the credibility of your site in the eyes of the search engines. To me, that's a win-win and an effective use of my time!
Now that we understand how comment marketing can help bring customers to your site and how it can also help with your link building efforts, lets talk about how to find opportunities. There are two types of opportunities, those directly related to what you do and those that are indirectly related. Lets give an example of sites directly related to one another and sites indirectly related.
Indirectly Related: The SEO.com blog is indirectly related to the Lendio blog. The Lendio blog speaks to entrepreneurs looking for small business loans. We may not be in the business of providing small businesses loans, but we are looking for entrepreneurs starting businesses to become clients. If our comments are tailored to the audience, it would be a perfect opportunity to get in front of potential clients.
Okay, so how to find these opportunities. The first thing I like to do is use one of the simplest tools of all, "The Google". Open up a fresh tab or window, head over to Google and type in your targeted search term. For this example, I am using search engine marketing.
In the left hand column you will see lots of different content categories, one of them is blogs, clicking this displays blog results related to the search query. Another is discussions, this displays forum results that are related to the search query. Both are golden in finding these comment marketing opportunities.
The last piece of the puzzle is learning how to provide comments that add to the current discussion and also entice people to click thru to your website. Please raise you hand if you have ever made the following comment on a blog post before, "Nice post! I really learned a lot". Yes, this is a legitimate comment but it doesn't exactly provide value to the discussion.
To build a comment that adds value to the discussion and will likely bring visitors to your website, your comment has to be thought provoking and also have a call to action. Try giving your own spin on the topic and adding a point that the author may have overlooked or didn't think of. If you know of another good resource (preferably not on your website), drop a link in the comments and invite the readers to have a look. The reason I say not on your website is because you are already getting a link by adding your name and URL to the comment and you want to show you are legitimately adding to the discussion and not self promoting.
It's really as simple as that, so now that we've got a good grasp on comment marketing, let's move on to the second technique I wanted to discuss today and that is answer marketing.
Monthly Cost: Time
As you were with commenting marketing, you are probably wondering what answer marketing is. Answer marketing is where you participate in question and answer based communities like Yahoo Answers and Quora, provide resources (some to your site and some to others), and build your and your brands credibility.
In these communities, your already "qualified customers" are asking questions directly related to what products or services you offer and you have the opportunity to swoop in, be the hero and provide solutions to their questions/problems. For example, a few weeks back the LCD screen in my MacBook crapped out on me. Not wanting to replace my whole machine, I turned to the search engines to see how hard it would be to replace my own screen. I stumbled upon a question asked on Yahoo Answers on how to replace my LCD. In the answer provided, there was a link to a tutorial video on ifixit.com and guess what... On the tutorial page was a link to the exact LCD I needed and guess what again... I bought it! This is a perfect example of how powerful answer marketing is for your business.
Alright, let's talk about how to tackle this technique. First thing, you need to dedicate some resources to being on these communities each day, searching for people asking questions about what you do. If you don't have the resources, hire them in. If I were a marketing director, I would find college interns or possibly a sharp high school student that lives down the road from me that could come in for a few hours and bang this out.
Next, once you find good questions to answer, make sure you have a quality piece of content to point them to. Like in my example above, they pointed me to exactly what I was looking for, not just a link to their home page. If you don't have the content, build it! I can guarantee you will use it over and over again. I have found that interactive content like videos are more engaging and help convert your visitors, but a simple blog post or white paper will do the trick as well. Just make sure it provides value and helps answer a question or solves a problem.
Monthly Cost: Time
So there you have it, phase two of marketing your business for under five dollars per month. I'll probably do two or three more of these hitting on some highly effective, very affordable inbound marketing techniques, so be sure to tune back in next month.