CHAPTER 2 Inbound Marketing

Is Your Web Site a Marketing Hub?

The history of the company web site began with the paper brochure that was handed out at trade shows and stuffed intoenvelopes formailing tounsuspecting prospects. When the Internet came into play, this same brochurewas handed to a Web designer who turned it into a beautiful web site. This made sense at the time: brochures were static, the Web was new andmostly static, and companies had spent lots of money to have these brochures designed. However, having a “brochureware” web site is where the trouble starts for many businesses today.

Megaphone Versus Hub
If your web site is like many of the web sites we see, it is a one-to-many broadcast tool thinkmegaphone.Wefind that people visit these types of sites once, click around, and never return. Why? Because nothing on these sites—which arefilledwithsales orientedmessages—compel themto stay. The Web was originally built to be a collaboration plat-form by Tim Berners-Lee in the 1980s and while it took a couple of decades to get there, the Web is now truly

Inbound Marketing
collaborative. Instead of broadcasting to their users with a megaphone, the top-ranked sites today have created com-munities where like-minded people can connect with each other. In order to take full advantage of this collaborative power, you must rethink your web site. Instead of “mega-phone,” think, “hub.” What we want you to do is to change the mode of your web site from a one-way sales message to a collaborative,
living, breathing hub for your marketplace.

It’s Not What You Say—It’s What Others Say
About You

If your company is like most others, you put all your Web energy on your site. Seventy-five percent of your focus should be on what is happening off your web site con-cerning your brand, your industry, and your competitors.
Your focus should include creating communities outside of your site for people to connect with you and your products and others within the community. Ultimately, this “outside” focus will drive people back to your site. The model in Fig-ure 2.1 is of the Web—each dot is a web site. You want your web site to be a large dot that’s connected to many other web sites—in other words, a hub.In effect, you want your web site to be more like New York City than Wellesley, Massachusetts. NYC has several major highways running through it, three major airports, a huge bus depot, two major train stations, and so on. Welles-ley has one highway passing through it, no airport, no bus depot, and no train station. The highways, trains, buses and airplanes to your site are the search engines, links from other sites, and thousands of mentions of your company in the

Is Your Web Site a Marketing Hub?

Figure 2.1 Internet Model

social mediasphere. All of this is what turns your web site into a magnetic hub for your industry that pulls people in.

Does Your Web Site Have a Pulse?
Over time, many people will become regular readers of your web site and subscribe to it. These readers won’t visit your site directly to read the content, but will consume your con-tent through a feed reader or RSS reader. RSS (which stands for “really simple syndication”) is a technology that allows content to be published and pushed to those users that are subscribed to a feed. RSS makes it very convenient for your readers to automatically know when you have created new content on your site without having to constantly revisit to see if there have been updates. RSS-enabling your site changes the dynamic of your site from a static brochureware site that someone visits once
to a site that’s living and breathing. Every time you post something new, your RSS subscribers get that update auto-matically and are pulled back onto your site. (Figure 2.2 shows an RSS symbol.)

Inbound Marketing

Figure 2.2 RSS Symbol

The same goes for e-mail. Not everyone is up to speed yet on RSS, so you should give site visitors the ability to sub-scribe to your site or sections of your site via e-mail. In the
same way as RSS, this keeps your prospective and current customers in touch with your web site—and by extension, you and your company—a totally different paradigm from
an online brochure. As we will discuss in later chapters, you want to dis-tribute your site’s content to social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, where it can spread to new, inter-ested audiences more virally. If you do this properly, people will consume your Web content while using these applica-tions, not just on your web site.

Your Mother’s Impressed, But…
If your company is like others, you are currently in the process of or thinking about redesigning your web site. Here is the typical process we see. For the first monthor two after the redesign is complete, you LOVE your new site and can’t stop looking at it. It looks fantastic and your mother is very

Is Your Web Site a Marketing Hub?
pleased! Around three months or so later, you start to nit-pick about certain things—the menus are not quite as cool as XYZ Company’s for example. By about six months after
the new design, those nit-picks are now starting to really bug you, the background image looks a little dated, and the font choice isn’t feeling right anymore. By the time nine months has passed, you start thinking that if you have to look at your site for one more second, you will throw up because you are so sick of that new design. The problem is, you spent a lot of money and the design process took six months, so you don’t want to go through all of that again—budgets,delays, consensus building, and other matters to address.Then about a year after the new design, something really great happens: You get a new Marketing VP who has the brilliant idea to rebrand the company with newcolors, new logo, tweaked value proposition (verticals this time) and
while we are at it, let’s get rid of that tired web site. Great news—you can start over! Rinse—repeat.

Inbound Marketing
The reality is that most web sites look perfectly fine. The colors are fine, the menus are fine, the logo is fine, the pic-tures are fine, and so on. You personally do not like the look
of your web site because you look at it so often. Your visi-tors, on the other hand, think your web site looks just fine and are not particularly interested in your site’s colors or the
type of menus used. Your visitors are looking for something interesting they can read and learn about—which is why it makes sense to focus on getting people to consume Web content through other means such as e-mail, RSS, and social media sites.
Save the thousands of dollars and countless hours you were going to spend on the redesign of your site and do three things. First, add something collaborative to your site
like a blog (which is easy to update on a regular basis). Second, start creating lots of compelling content people will want to consume (see following chapters on how to do
this). Third, start focusing where the real action is: Google,industry blogs, and social media sites.Table 2.1 is a summary of the way we want you to start rethinking the current concept of your web site.

Table 2.1 Rethinking Your Web Site

Your Web SiteInbound Marketing Hub
Interaction1 to ManyMany to Many
ContentOn your domain onlySyndicated across web
FocusYour web siteThe rest of the Internet
ConsumeThrough browserBrowser & RSS
LinksHundredsTens of Thousands
Facebook Pagen/aThousands of fans
Twitter Accountn/aThousands of followers
LinkedIn Groupn/aThousands of subscribers

Is Your Web Site a Marketing Hub?

Tracking Your Progress

Before you begin making the changes we outline in the remainder of this book, take some time to measure where you currently stand in order to track your progress and
results as you implement changes.
The first thing you should measure is the number of subscribers you have. By subscribers, we mean people who subscribe to your RSS feed and e-mail list. Also include the number of people who are following you on social media sites including fans of your Facebook page, followers of your LinkedIn Group or Twitter feed, and the number of Diggs or Delicious bookmarks you have. If you do not have any subscribers, fans, or followers, don’t worry, we will discuss how to get them in a later chapter. The more people follow-ing/subscribing to you, the broader your reach across your marketplace. This is exceptionally important, particularly in the case where you have some new product innova-tions that you want to tell your marketplace about or get feedback on.
In addition, you should be measuring the number of links back to your web site from other web sites and the number of organic keywords that are producing traffic to your site on Google. You can get this information from Web analytics software and online tools that measure inbound links, such as
The combination of your reach through blog sub-scribers, social media followers, links into your site, and traffic producing keywords is the size of your city. You want to make it as easy as possible for people who may be your prospective customers to find your company online. In other words, you want to move from the Wellesley, Mas-sachusetts model to the New York City model.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound in Action: 37Signals

Based in Chicago, 37Signals builds project management tools, such as the popular Base camp product, that compa-nies can use to better manage projects. In their early days,
the company started the Signal vs. Noise blog—and because they wrote compelling content about their industry, read-ers spread their articles via e-mail and virally through the social mediasphere, and they were often linked to by other bloggers. Due to this viral activity, 37Signal’s blog articles appeared often in Google’s search results. Ultimately, the company’s blog became among the top 0.1 percent of blogs on the Web and helped the company pull in over three million users.
If you visit 37Signals today, their web site looks nothing like a traditional online brochure ware site. Instead, it’s an online hub for their industry and includes the company’s original industry blog (Signal vs. Noise), a product blog, a job board, and information about their products and ser-vices. One interesting thing about this site is that the look
and feel, colors, menus, and other features haven’t changed since we first noticed them five years ago.
Like 37Signals, you must begin thinking about your Web presence in terms of an interactive, constantly changing hub for your entire industry—a hub that also happens to
sell a project management product. 37Signals is successful because they leverage the disruptive power of the Web to tip the balance of power in their industry from much larger players, such as Microsoft. While looking at the 37Signals site for inspiration, ask
yourself what you can learn. For example, what other type so f information, other than product specs, would be useful to your marketplace? What types of information and tools

Is Your Web Site a Marketing Hub?
can you put on your site that will pull in more people from your market?
To Do
1.Calculate your reach.
2.Go to (free) to find out the num-ber of links to your site.
3.Stop obsessing over theway your site looks and feels.
4.Don’t spend a bunch of money on a redesign. Start by adding a blog with RSS and e-mail subscription. Consider making your blog your home page the way Barack Obama does.
5.Check out
6.Keep reading to learn how to turn your site from Wellesley to New York City.

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