I recently took a course on inbound marketing. For me, and probably for you too, the customer-centric principles of inbound are nothing new. The customer should always be first. I’ve spent my career working to delight and educate customers, and to generally improve their experience.
With inbound these principles have more focus. The methodology serves to guide you in holistically applying it to your business, as well as your day-to-day work.
It got me thinking; how can I apply inbound marketing methodology to what I do as a copywriter? So here are few tips to apply inbound marketing to your site copy, content, and SEO.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is a methodology that has developed from the changing habits of buyers. It is all about being customer-centric, not sales-centric. The customer comes in to you, rather than sales reaching out to the customer.
It has two principles at its core: be human and be helpful.
Inbound is about empowering your customer rather than interrupting their lives with sales. How do they wish to be communicated to? How do they wish to be sold to? How can your business provide the right content and tools to help prospects through their buying journey?
It’s less “buy this right now” and more “here’s some helpful content that may guide you in solving this problem”.
Key to applying inbound to your business is the creation of a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a description of your ideal customer based on real data and educated speculation. You cannot focus your business on helping your buyer if you do not know who your buyer is or what they need and want.
Your copy should be human and helpful
A core tenant of inbound is being human. Your copy should speak to your buyer human to human, not as a faceless corporation. Do this with thoughtful and empathetic language; express that you understand what the buyer wants or needs. For example:
Try “We at A to Biz Car Rentals can help you solve your business transport needs.” Rather than “Choose A to Biz Car Rentals for your business transport needs.”
Your copy should be helpful too. Your content topic itself should of course be helpful and meet the needs of your buyer, but this applies to the way it is written too.
Write clearly and concisely, and avoid jargon where possible. Structure your copy into short manageable paragraphs (roughly two sentences each), and use headers, bullets, and numbering where possible.
Your language should come across as smart (but not arrogant) and solution-oriented. For example:
“At A to Biz Cars we give you 24/7 on-demand access to cars and vans by the hour or the day in cities and at airports. Whether your team needs a car for a sales meeting or a quick delivery, we will help you find the right transport solution.”
This copy identifies a problem the prospect has and offers a helpful solution.
Writing for inbound is all about communicating without selling in order to build a trusting relationship between you and your prospect. The focus therefore is on educating them with relevant and useful content.
Applying inbound to your website copy
Every aspect of your site should be designed for your buyer persona. How would they like to navigate your site? What information do they want? Do they wish to self-educate or speak to a sales person?
And of course, you need to apply inbound to your site’s copy.
Your buyer persona should guide the tone of voice in which your customer wishes to be spoken to. Friendly and familiar? Or business professional?
Inbound should also guide what you include in your site copy. What information would be helpful to include for your buyer persona that will help them move towards being a customer?
For example, should you focus your site content on how your product works? Or should you focus on your product range?
Applying inbound to your content strategy
Inbound is all about content. You empower your customer by producing relevant, targeted and helpful content.
Your buyer persona should guide your content strategy. Everything in your schedule should be relevant to your buyer and their stage of the buying journey.
It’s also important to listen to customer feedback – explicit and implicit – and use this to shape your strategy. It may be in the form of a customer feedback survey, explicitly stating what type of content would be beneficial. Or you could listen to engagement metrics. Which types of articles are being clicked on?
When it comes to writing, therefore, you should already have an inbound-led topic. However you need to keep the buyer front of mind as you write. Is this sentence helpful to a reader with this problem? Will this section empower and educate the reader in finding a solution to their problem?
You also need to ensure that you’re meeting the tone of voice and language aspects I covered earlier.
Applying inbound to SEO
When working on your SEO (search engine optimisation), it’s normal to focus in on the search engine ‘robots’. Does Google think I’m using my keywords enough? Does Bing think I have relevant links?
What the search engine ‘robots’ are actually doing is inbound through and through. They are making sure that your site and content are relevant and useful to your human prospects.
Therefore if your copy and your site are optimised for your buyer persona it will be optimised for search engines too. If Google ranks you highly (puts you top of the search list for your keyword) your buyer persona will find you.
In summary to apply inbound to your copywriting you must:
- Use thoughtful and empathetic language
- Write as a human to another human
- Be clear and concise, avoiding jargon, so your copy is helpful and easy to digest
- Use solution-orientated language
- Write in the preferred tone of voice of your buyer persona
- Keep your buyer persona front of mind while you write