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Depending on your age, you might remember the phenomenon that was Pokémon during the early 2000s. Well the addictive pocket monsters have returned in the form of an augmented reality app called Pokémon GO! As a digital marketer, Pokémon GO has sparked more than just a nostalgic interest in me. It can actually teach us a lot about the art of inbound marketing.

To be fair, the Pokémon franchise never really went away. However, it hasn’t been this popular in years. The “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” fever has taken the world by storm (again)!

Wait! What Exactly is Pokémon GO?

Before I dive headfirst into this inbound marketing lesson, I want to provide a brief overview of Pokémon GO for any readers who aren’t millennials. If you’ve already been roaming your neighborhood looking for rare catches and Pokestops, then you can skip this section.

Charizard rendered in Pokemon GO

You really haven’t heard of Pokémon GO??

Pokémon GO is a mobile smartphone app that was released by Niantic, Inc earlier this month. It’s based on the extremely popular series created by Nintendo that has spawned games, cartoon shows and movies.

The app is free to download and play, and it provides a virtual reality experience for players. What this means is that while you’re walking around your neighborhood, you can hold up your phone and see the Pokémon right there in front of you. The developers of this app have made great use of your smartphone’s camera and GPS.

Pokémon GO is inherently social too! Have you noticed groups of people roaming your local park with their phones in hand? Hordes of people have been teaming up to find and catch Pokémon and get some more exercise while they’re at it.

But that’s not why I want to talk about Pokémon GO today. As an inbound marketer, I see a great way to use this pocket monster phenomenon to teach you a few things about inbound marketing.

For a Reward, People Will Jump Through a Hoop (Within Reason)

In our modern world, most people don’t have to rely on walking to get to where they want to go. Given the choice, most wouldn’t choose to walk if they could drive.

We’ve become an increasingly more sedentary culture overall.

One of the expressed desires from developer Niantic was to build a game that encouraged more gamers to be active. As Niantic’s product marketing lead, Archit Bhargava, puts it, their mission is to “build technology that enables adventures on foot.”

Pokémon GO has succeeded in getting more people off their butts and spending time outside. How? They are rewarded with the ability to capture more Pokémon.

After downloading the app, a new trainer will have the opportunity to capture a Pokémon in the near vicinity, as well as test out some of the other mechanics of the game. This gets the hooks in, but soon they’ll find that they need to adventure out into the real world to capture additional Pokémon.

Given the massive success of the app, it would seem that many players are more than willing to put up with some additional walking in order to catch more Pokémon.

This is a valuable lesson that you can apply to your own business. With the right incentive, your target audience will be willing and even happy to take the desired action.

In order to get more people to provide their contact information when they visit your website, you need to know your target audience really well and understand the types of things that they want. With the right type of lead magnet, you’ll create a powerful incentive that will convert more site visitors into leads.

I recommend that you take the time to consider exactly what your desired customers care about. This would be a good time to develop some buyer personas for your business if you haven’t already. Once you know your perfect customer inside and out, it won’t be difficult to develop content that you know will appeal to them. It’s obvious that Niantic knew exactly what would appeal to their target market.

Leveraging A Brand’s Community to Generate Interest in a New Product

Have you seen others posting on social media about their experience with Pokémon GO? Plenty of news feeds have been populated with stories ranging from people finding unexpected things on their search for rare Pokémon to clever videos like this one from the City of Miami Police Department:

The point is Niantic took advantage of Pokémon’s solid community to amplify their message and get the word out both prior to and after they launched Pokémon GO.

This proved extremely successful as buzz was generated amongst the millions of people who were fans in their childhood. The growth of social media also meant that a whole new generation of players were introduced to the franchise.

If you have developed a healthy online community around your brand, you can leverage that to generate interest prior to the launch of new products or services. If done right, fans of your business may then continue to spread the word post-launch.

Chances are you probably don’t have an online community that is as extensive as Pokémon’s. That isn’t a problem,  because you can gain significant benefits by generating buzz on social media about a new product.

On top of that, building your online community is a fundamental aspect of any effective inbound marketing campaign. Eventually this can become a crazy effective lead-generating machine for your business. Click here for some great tips to help you get started!

Small Victories Pile Up in Pokémon Go and Inbound Marketing

If you start playing Pokémon Go, you’ll soon realize that there are Rattatas and Digletts everywhere! You’re going to see A LOT of these common Pokémon types (they’ll probably be standing around in your own home).

You’ll get tired of these Pokémon types quickly, but a wise trainer will still catch them when the opportunity strikes. Why? It’s because these captures earn them points and they can evolve (level up) these Pokémon faster.

Rattata a common Pokemon in Pokemon GO

You will run from my army of rattatas!!!

As an inbound marketer, this really resonates with me. Starting out, the work is tedious and unrewarding. If you’re doing inbound marketing for your business, you’re probably trying your hand at content marketing. It may not feel like you’re generating much, but each blog post you write or infographic you create will add up (if you stay consistent in your efforts).

If you’re marketing your content the right way, you’ll slowly but surely earn more points with your target audience and that will lead to a greater reach for your business and brand. Just be sure that each blog post you write has been properly optimized for search.

Reward Your Fans and Reap the Benefits

Pokémon is a massively influential franchise that affected an entire generation. I still remember collecting the cards with my little brother and watching the TV series. We invested plenty of our (and our parents’) money and time into these little pocket monsters and their world.

When Pokémon GO was announced (and that it would be available for free!), it caused widespread pandemonium. Fans couldn’t wait for a new way to interact with this world, and they were rewarded for it.

This should serve as a valuable experience for any business owner and marketer. When developing a new product or service, don’t forget about your loyal customer base. This may seem like a no brainer, but it’s not uncommon for businesses to market their new product in a way specifically designed to bring in new customers.

Prior or current customers should not be overlooked. In fact, when they are properly nurtured, these customers will make repeat purchases and become advocates for your brand. We may live in a digital age, but word of mouth is more powerful than ever!

If that doesn’t sway you, think about this: it costs businesses roughly 7x more to bring in a new customer than to retain an existing one. Reward your loyal customer base!

Use the “Foot-in-the-Door” Technique to Hook Your Target Audience

There was clear reasoning behind Niantic’s decision to make Pokémon GO a free-to-play app. They understood that their core demographic would be comprised of Millennials: a group who are willing to take extra steps if it means that they don’t have to pay for anything.

The genius here is that their team understood this would lead to more revenue in the long-run compared to a paid app. Why? Because they opened their game up to a much larger player base.

Once a player has become hooked on the mechanics, Niantic can market paid “extras” specifically to them. These are special in-game perks that can give them a leg up over their friends and other local trainers.

Within a week of it’s launch, Pokémon GO was already generating $1.6 million in daily revenue!

This type of marketing tactic is grounded in a psychological concept known as “foot-in-the-door” technique. Essentially this means that it’s easier to get someone to agree to a larger request after they’ve agreed to a smaller one.

There is no significant barrier to playing the game since it is free to download. If it hooks a player, then it’s only another small step to make an in-app purchase to get a leg up over a rival.

Pokemon GO's hook is a great inbound marketing tactic

Pokemon GO can make you feel like a real life trainer…

With inbound marketing, you can use this “foot-in-the-door” technique to hook your target demographic! Using these inbound marketing fundamentals allows you to develop a relationship with potential customers and build an online community around your business.

You can educate leads about the benefits of using your products and services, and make sure they know why it would decrease their quality of life if they missed out.

Providing engaging demos, samples or free trials are great ways to hook leads. Remember that you should aim for quality over quantity here. That hands-on experience with your product or service should provide a level of benefit that leaves them wanting more when their trial comes to a close. This is a powerful feeling that can be more compelling than the rationale to save money.

Conclusion

Pokémon GO has been out for less than a month, but it has already achieved a mind-blowing level of success. Hopefully, this success has shown you just how effective inbound marketing can be.

Here are some key takeaways from this post:

  • Niantic knew how to implement the right incentives to get their target audience to take the actions they desired.
  • Niantic leveraged Pokémon’s online community to generate buzz around Pokémon GO prior to launch.
  • The new app has great appeal for loyal fans and low barriers for first-time players.
  • Pokémon GO utilizes the “foot-in-the-door” technique to hook their target audience.

Each of these are representative of inbound marketing strategies that you can use to great effect for your own business. Want to know more? Drop me a message in the form below.

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As a small business owner, you may have grown your operation on the back of traditional marketing strategies like cold calling, email blasts and local promotions to get the word out about your services. These tactics can be effective, but they also tend to be costly. That’s where inbound marketing can really help change how you grow your business operation.

When we discuss inbound marketing tactics with business owners, they’re often concerned about the costs involved in changing their core marketing strategies. This is a reasonable concern. However, it’s one that stems from an outbound marketing methodology.

ROI from Outbound Marketing vs Inbound Marketing

The average cost of using traditional outbound marketing channels like running an ad on the radio, TV or in a local newspaper are significantly more expensive than inbound marketing channels.

On top of that, it’s not easy to calculate your ROI from these outbound marketing channels. You may be able to serve up your ads to your target customer base, but you aren’t reaching them at a point where they are likely to take a desired action.

Investing in inbound marketing can and will provide a fantastic ROI for your business! Sure, the initial investment isn’t going to be cheap, but it really shouldn’t be. The businesses that are getting fantastic ROI’s from inbound marketing tactics have realized that cutting corners won’t cut it.

They’ve invested in a great looking website and found a quality agency to run their social media marketing and search engine optimization (SEO) efforts. In contrast to traditional outbound marketing channels, you can easily track and analyze every aspect of your inbound marketing campaign.

This way, you won’t be wasting your marketing budget on channels that aren’t actually pulling in leads for your business. The effectiveness of this approach is so significant that businesses using inbound marketing have found it costs around 60% less per qualified lead compared to outbound marketing!

Pretty impressive right?

Small business owner happy about her inbound marketing ROI

We understand that you might not be ready to hire an inbound marketing agency just yet. However, we’ve compiled seven inbound marketing tactics that can and will change your business for the better!

These are all possible to do on your own if you’re ready to get started right away.

1) Identify 1-2 Keywords to Optimize Your Site Around

Search engine optimization plays a critical role in any inbound marketing campaign. If you are familiar with SEO, then you’ve likely heard about keyword research. This is the practice of identifying keywords that are relevant to your business, so that you can incorporate these throughout your website and start gaining relevant traffic.

Keep in mind that the best practice for keywords has changed. You obviously don’t want to stuff keywords into your content, but you do want to build content that is tailored to longtail keywords relevant to your business and industry.

When starting out, we recommend that you identify a core group of longtail keywords to focus on. Many sites try to rank too many keywords. The odds that you will rank well for all of these is pretty low (depending on your industry). We’ve found that it’s much more effective to optimize your website for a smaller grouping of high value keywords.

Once you’ve identified these prime targets, you can start creating pages that specifically target the keywords. A great example is LessAccounting, a company that provides accounting software for small businesses and is competing with big brands like Quickbooks.

LessAccounting ranks higher well for relative keywords in their industry

They’ve done a great job honing in on their keyword focus and now rank above huge sites like Entrepeneur.com for queries like “accounting tips for small business owners.”

2) Create a Lead Magnet for Your Website

How likely are you to sign up for a website’s newsletter or to create a profile if they were to ask you straight away on their website? Odds are that you wouldn’t be very interested. Now, what if they were asking for your email in exchange for an E book that shows you how to create a successful Facebook marketing campaign in your industry? That sounds a little more enticing, right?

These free resources and guides are known as lead magnets and can be extremely valuable for your business. Not only can it help capture a lot more leads, but it can also drive a ton of qualified traffic to your website and helps build trust with visitors.

Here are some great lead magnet examples you should check out for inspiration.

Be sure that your lead magnet make sense for your website and business. It should be specific and speak to your target audience.

3) Create More Compelling Calls-to-Action (CTA)

You’ve put a lot of work to drive more traffic to your site, but what’s happening when visitors get there? Are they making the desired actions? If you’re website can’t convert, you’ve got a serious problem.

Unfortunately, this is something that many small business website haven’t gotten right– implementing a compelling call-to-action (CTA).

Snapshot of a great call-to-action on a small business website

Have you invested a lot of time in developing your website’s blog? Then your CTA should make it easy it easy for interested visitors to subscribe. Perhaps you have a landing page that includes a form for capturing contact information from leads.

A great CTA can make a world of difference in bridging the gap from site visitor to customer/subscriber/loyal brand fan. A crappy CTA, on the other hand, may confuse the visitors you drive to this page and lead to significant dropoff.

Click here for some tips on how you can improve your calls-to-action.

4) Implement an Email Pop-Up on Your Site

Odds are you have had at least one bad experience with popups on the internet. Frankly, they can be really annoying. So it may come as a surprise that this is an important inbound marketing tactic for your small business.

Fortunately, email opt-in pop-ups can be implemented in a way that doesn’t ruin the user’s experience and ultimately builds your email list.

This list of potential leads can become extremely valuable for your business. A great email opt-in can quickly build up your email list when combined with the other inbound marketing tactics listed in this post. Here’s a fantastic tutorial from Mailchimp on how to setup a successful opt-in pop-up on your website using their form builder.

If you’re using WordPress for your website, here’s a list of additional plugins that you can use to build your email list.

5) Start an Email Marketing Campaign

Once you’ve built up a solid email list, then it’s time to start your first email marketing campaign. This is an excellent way to keep customers and potential leads up-to-date about things you’re doing, upcoming sales and events. It’s also one of the best ways to nurture the type of relationship that turns leads into raving fans of your business.

Woman waits for an email from her favorite brand

Now, you might be wondering how much time it’s going to take to actually run an email marketing campaign and how you’ll be able to fit that into your busy schedule. This is why you’ll want to pick a great email service provider. They’ll allow you to upload your list of email subscribers and send automated emails to all of them.

Here are the email service providers we recommend trying out:

  • Mailchimp
  • Constant Contact
  • AWeber
  • GetResponse
  • Campaign Monitor
  • IContact

From timing to optimizing your messaging, there are a lot of best practices to familiarize yourself with. Remember, the emails should come off as personal and helpful, rather than spammy or aggressive. Email marketing should not be used as an easy way to simply pitch to potential clients. This will quickly disinterest them or even frustrate them.

Want to learn more about this inbound marketing tactic? Click here.

6) Work on Developing Your Online Brand

One of the best aspects of inbound marketing is that it can help you develop a great online brand for your business. There’s a lot of competition out there and people will use search engines and social media to learn more about a given company. If you’ve developed a good social following and invested in your website, this can easily separate you from your competitors.

Offering a great resource on your website and ranking well for related keywords will help position your business as a leader in your niche. Combine that with an effective social media marketing strategy and you’ll see your online brand grow!

Using inbound marketing to build your online brand will require a focused and multi-faceted approach. With clearly defined buyer personas, you can tailor your social messaging and content marketing to speak to the them. That will establish your business as a go-to resource amongst your target audience.

7) Use Social Media to Engage with Your Target Audience

Have you created social media profiles for your business? If you’ve picked the right social media channels to invest in, you can use them to interact with your target audience.

Quick disclaimer: social media shouldn’t be viewed as your primary source of conversions. Your optimized website and a genuine email marketing campaign will generate more. However, social media is still a critical aspect of your inbound marketing campaign.

Example of a social interaction from a brand

Building up your business’ presence on these social channels won’t be enough. You’ll want to find ways to engage with your followers– it’s called social media for a reason!

Wondering where to start? Just try asking questions and be sure to respond when followers ask you questions. Your social channel isn’t meant to be another one-way street where you promote things about your business. Be present and receptive!

Some of the most successful brands online take this a step further by constantly monitoring for any mention of their name. This gives them an instant way to join in on conversations and engage with people that have shown an interest in them. Interacting with interested social media users does a lot to personalize the brand and set it apart from their competitors.

Conclusion

As you can see, each of these inbound marketing tactics compliment each other. Plus, they can be applied to any business website regardless of the industry.

While these seven tactics can achieve a lot for your business, there are many other inbound marketing tactics that small businesses can use to great effect. If you have questions about how to get started, please leave a comment below or shoot us an email. We’d be happy to help!

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Have you heard someone using the term “growth hacking” lately? It’s become a popular buzzword for marketers and techies, but should it mean anything to you as a small business owner? Yes, it should– and here’s how growth hacking can help your small business!

“Growth hacking” was a term conceived by Sean Ellis in 2010. Ellis is an influential angel investor and startup advisor who has achieved success as a marketer in his own right. In Silicon Valley, he’s frequently sought out by new startup founders thanks to his tremendous track record.

Ellis was able to take the strategies, mindsets and tactics he had learned from working with startups to help grow his own company.

Growth hacking potential represented by a tree

Eventually, he started looking for someone who could come in and take over for him. He wanted to develop a complete system that could run successfully, even if he wasn’t at the reins.

This proved to be harder than he thought. While sifting through a stack of impressive marketing resumes, he realized that he wanted to find someone who knew how to GROW a company (not just market it).

Thus the term “growth hacking” was born!

So… What is Growth Hacking?

Compared to more traditional forms of marketing or even inbound marketing, someone specializing in growth hacking only has one thing on their mind: GROWTH!

This is their all-consuming mission and creative growth hackers are always on the lookout for new ways to achieve it.

What does growth entail?

  • More visibility
  • More subscribers
  • More customers
  • Increased revenue

Growth hackers can’t just focus on one specific tactic to achieve these goals. They must leverage a variety of tools to achieve the adoption and engagement needed to truly grow. This can’t be done without a sound strategy in place.

When working with a new start-up, a growth hacker will focus on the processes that the company has in place. Some things may need to be streamlined while others may be disrupted and changed completely. This ability to completely transform a company is the reason why good growth hackers are so valuable.

This is all great, but as a small business owner you’re probably thinking, I don’t have the budget to hire on a growth hacker. Luckily, you don’t have to! We’re going to show you several growth hacking tactics that you can use for your small business. On top of that, these are viable strategies you can employ even on the strictest of marketing budgets.

How Can I Apply Growth Hacking Principles to My Business?

Do you have a signup form on your website? This is a great way to collect contact information from engaged users on your site. A common growth hacking tactic that has skyrocketed several companies is incentivizing sign ups.

Sign up form that incentivizes users

Unfortunately, many small businesses stick a sign up form on their site without really considering how they can encourage more visitors to complete the form. Site owners do it just because they know it’s something that websites are supposed to have. If you want to think like a growth hacker, then you need to take a closer look at the sign-up process you have in place.

What can you do to incentivize visitors to complete your online form? This post has some great tips that will help!

Listen to Your Fans!

Does your small business have a presence on social media? You should! The average consumer is an empowered one thanks to the plethora of information available online. If they can’t find your company on Facebook or Twitter, it can be perceived as a red flag.

Growth hackers also use social media to interact with potential customers online. Why? They are seeking feedback on their brand and yes, sometimes that feedback can be negative. Growth hackers don’t shy away from criticism; in fact they often find it extremely valuable. This feedback can be used to adjust your efforts and offerings to better match your target demographic.

You can also gain valuable feedback from visitors through your website. You might want to run an online survey or invest some time reaching out to fans through your available social channels. Do you maintain a brick and mortar location for your small business? Than you can gain some great feedback from customers in person too!

Here are 2 strategies to consider:

  1. Make sure you have Google Analytics set up for your website. Keep track of what pages and elements that users seem to enjoy on your website. Make small adjustments to better serve your users. This can also help you improve your content marketing strategy and search engine optimization (SEO).
  2. Using a reward-like a discount or special coupon, you can incentivize online visitors to leave their opinion about your current marketing efforts and offerings.

As a small business owner, time is a very valuable commodity and you might not be able to invest it in all of these growth marketing channels. We recommend focusing your efforts on a single channel to start out. Whether it’s garnering engagement through social media or email marketing, pick something that you know or feel comfortable working on.

Show Off Your Reviews

People are heavily influenced by online reviews when it comes to making a final purchasing decision. A study conducted by BrightLocal found that 79% of consumers view online reviews in the same light as a personal recommendation. That’s really significant!!

Kids react to positive online reviews about a local small business

With a growth hacking mindset, you can take things a step further and share your positive online reviews with more users through your active social media channels. Yelp lets you connect your profile with Facebook pretty easily. This will mean that all of your future Yelp reviews will also be posted to your Facebook page.

If you’re struggling to get online reviews, check out our guide to generating more reviews for your business.

Leverage Calls-to-Action (CTAs) to Drive Engagement

Want users and customers to take a certain action on your website or social media page? Then you need to ask them. Including a well thought out and obvious CTA is the single most important element on any sign up page you create for your brand. If your call-to-action doesn’t stand, then your landing page is basically useless.

How can you call more attention to your CTA? Use bigger fonts, contrasting colors and prominent placement to make sure it stands out!

You can also use CTA phrasing like “comment,” “share” and “please retweet” to garner more engagement and growth through social platforms. Just take care that your calls-to-action match the voice and tone your brand has developed.

Conclusion

Remember that these are by no means the only growth hacking strategies that work for small businesses. Do you have some different hacks that have worked for you? Be sure to share your favorite growth hacking strategies in the comments below!

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