I am going to show you that inbound marketing actually works. To do this, I’m going to deviate from my typical blogging style of providing one-off articles with guides/tips/tricks for a particular aspect of social media or internet marketing strategies. Instead, this will be a series of articles that provide you with detailed updates on a website I’m going to attempt to turn into a profit-generating website using inbound marketing tactics, including SEO, blogging, social media, and even some paid search.
Do I know if it’s going to work? No, I have no idea; it could turn into a complete flop and I can end up making myself look really silly. But I am confident enough in inbound marketing and what I know as a marketing consultant to jump on a ledge and prove to you that this stuff really works.
Disclaimer: I work at HubSpot as an Inbound Marketing Consultant. I will be mentioning their software and methodology many times throughout this series, as I am using their content management system for my website’s primary domain. However, I am NOT writing this series to promote HubSpot’s software; I am writing this series simply to show my readers HOW to do inbound marketing in a real-world application.
Let’s get started.
Tudor Tour’s Background Story
When I began working at HubSpot, an inbound marketing software as a service (SaaS) company, part of training involved creating a website using their content management system. The goal was to create a search engine optimized website that generated leads.
I wanted to create something that interested me OTHER than social media and marketing, which is already by job and hobby (this blog), so I immediately thought of London. London is my favorite vacation destination (possibly even more than Disney World), and I’m fascinated by British history, particularly the Tudor period. So I decided to create a website called Tudor Tour, which provides people with London Tour Guides so they can visit all the sites significant to the Tudor period. It took about a week to create, and another couple days of tweaking a bit for the presentation. After presenting this website to my training class around five months ago, I hadn’t touched it until now.
A couple of weeks ago, I was mentally preparing myself for the surgery I was to undergo on my foot on January 14th. I’d be couch-ridden for at least several days, and unable to walk anywhere besides work for a couple weeks. Since I literally don’t know how to relax, I needed a project.
I thought of Tudor Tour, that little website I created for my training project several months ago. I logged into HubSpot, and checked out my stats. Whoa. In the 4.5 months since I last logged in, after only having worked on this thing for ONE week, I had generated 1,439 website visits and 110 leads. I found my project.
How I Got 110 Leads From One Week of Effort
I will now walk you through exactly what I did during that first week in which I worked on Tudor Tour. Depending on when you read this article and visit Tudor Tour, you will likely see something a bit different from what I started out with, as I’ll be continuously optimizing and adding to the site. The big difference at this point is that I’ve added a product to sell and the blog is now a WordPress blog on a subdomain rather than a HubSpot blog on a subdirectory.
1. I created 23 pages of content
Although the training assignment only required us to develop something like 5 pages of developed content, I wanted to attempt to see some SEO results in a short period of time, so I ended up adding 23 pages of content:
- 1 homepage
- 17 pages of regular website content
- 1 landing page with a free offering
- 2 blog articles
- 1 “contact us” page
Each content page was fully search engine optimized (see #2). Half of the pages were about sites in London, including sites such as the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, and half of the pages were about famous Tudors, including King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. All pages were relevant to the overall theme of describing where in London to go to find Tudor history.
2. I SEO’d the hell out of every single page
I already had a lot of SEO experience before coming to HubSpot, so combining my previous knowledge with everything new I was learning at HubSpot, I took the following steps:
- Chose 1-2 specific keywords that had low competition and ok monthly search volume in Google per page
- For example, instead of choosing something broad like “the tudors” or “london vacation” I would target “tudor attractions” or “london tour guide”
- Incorporated the page keywords into the following elements:
- Page title (a.k.a. meta title)
- Meta description
- Meta keywords (don’t really count for anything anymore, but still did it)
- Image alt text
- Anchor text of interlinking copy (for example, I hyperlinked most mentions of “Tower of London” to the Tower of London page, and so on)
- Wrote at least a few paragraphs of keyword-rich content per page
There were a few elements that I didn’t optimize the best I could, that I will be optimizing further in this experiment. These elements include:
- URL structure – not horrible, but could be better at incorporating target keywords. Since URLs are one of the most important SEO elements, improving these could actually make a big difference
- H1 tags – again not horrible, but could include more target keywords
3. I created an enticing offer to give away for free
In order to get leads, it’s best to create some sort of offer. Informational offers such as whitepapers, eBooks, and guides are very common. Other offers can include discounts, demos, free trials, and free consultations. “Contact Us” is the weakest offer you can have.
Even though we didn’t actually need to create a fully-fleshed out offer for the assignment (we could just have the form with a promise of an offer to come soon), I wanted to actually take this seriously, so I did create an actual offer. I created a one-page guide to some of the top Tudor attractions in London, and the closest Tube stop to each attraction. I made the whole thing in one night using PowerPoint.
4. I put that offer behind a landing page form
I created a landing page with a form so that I could collect viewer’s contact information in exchange for leads. My landing page followed these landing pages best practices:
- Headline clearly conveyed the offer and benefit: “Download the FREE Tudor London Tour Guide to Discover the Best Tudor Attractions in London”
- Copy was short, sweet and to the point. I had a couple paragraphs explaining the offer, and a few bullet points outlining the benefits of downloading the offer.
- I included a nice image of what the downloadable offer looks like.
- The form is above the fold, and only asks for what I need to follow-up with that lead later to try and make a “sale.”
- I removed any links leading to other pages on the site, including the top navigation.
5. I placed call to action (CTA) buttons on every website page
I created a nice-looking CTA button with the messaging: Download the Tudor London Tour Guide / GET IT FREE. The word “Free” typically works very well on CTAs (when the offer is actually free, of course). My CTA followed the following best practices:
- CTA was above the fold on every page
- CTA included an image that really stood out on the page
- The CTA linked directly to the landing page
- The messaging matched the offer and headline of the landing page
6. I created a landing page to test a product
Unfortunately I’m a silly person who did not take a screenshot of this page before I turned it into an actual product page with checkout buttons, so I don’t have an image to put here. It basically looked the same as the landing page shown above, except it was advertising a “Tudor London Journey Planner” eBook that included a 5-day itinerary for a London Vacation for $39.99.
Same as the other landing page, it had a strong headline, clear benefits outlined in the copy, and a nice image of the book cover. The form had three fields: First Name, Last Name, and Email, and instead of the submit button saying “Submit” it said “Next: Payment >”. Instead of being taken to a payment screen, they were taken to a page thanking them for their interest; the product is not yet ready, but they will be notified when it is available for purchase. I do have a screenshot of that one.
The Results after 4.5 Months of Static Pages
After four and a half months of not changing anything on the site, I saw the results from my SEO efforts. Tudor Tour received 1,439 visits to my site, 908 of which was from organic search. It also got 110 leads. Even thought that’s only 320 visits and 25 leads a month, remember; I’d only done about a week’s worth of work to make this happen. I’ve seen many companies struggling to get that kind of traffic and lead volume after working consistently on their site for months.
The most awesome part was that I actually got interest in the eBook. Five leads either filled out the form on the fake-product landing page or sent me a message via the contact form inquiring about the eBook and when it would be available.
Either I chose a niche with minimal competition and significant-enough search volume, or this SEO stuff really works. It’s likely a combination of the two. So I thought: imagine if I actually started consistently working on this to build it up into an actual company. It has the potential.
Creating an eBook – an Informational Product – to Sell
After a couple days of research, creating a detailed outline, and compiling images for my eBook, on January 14 I had my foot surgery, and was confined to my couch for several days before I had to get back to work; even when I did get back to work, I still couldn’t go anywhere at night. So I wrote and designed a 50-page eBook called the Tudor London Journey Planner, which provides readers with a 5-day itinerary of Tudor attractions in/near London, complete with attraction guides, maps/directions, walking tours, and scavenger hunts, just as I’d advertised. It was very fun for me to put together, since it’s a topic (and city) I find really interesting.
When the eBook was finished (I created it using PowerPoint, by the way), I published it as a PDF and put it up for sale on the website using e-junkie as the shopping cart system. Two days later, I sold my first eBook. And my first customer wasn’t even one of those five leads who were originally interested.
Inbound Marketing Project Goals
Now I want to see if I can grow Tudor Tour into a profit-generating website that can supplement my primary income. I’m going to share my strategy with you every step of the way, so I can show you what works, what doesn’t, and to keep myself motivated to keep this thing going. And then hopefully you can create your own profit-generating website!
That’s all for now, but stay tuned! Future topics will include how to create an inbound marketing plan, advanced SEO implementations, using blogging and social media to get qualified traffic, and generating inbound links. I hope that you find this helpful! Subscribe to this blog to get updates to your inbox or RSS reader!