As someone who has a fairly hard time explaining what I do 50+ hours a week, summing it up under the title of “Inbound Marketing” isn’t very helpful.
I’m sure there are plenty of definitions to the term, but I’ll provide my own:
Inbound marketing is being found when people are looking for you instead of getting in their face.
In the modern age, this means blogs and search engine optimization, social media marketing, forum participation, event sponsorship and reporting, and much more.
It’s not easy. It’s not quick. Luckily for most members of the dive industry, your niche is small enough that it’s easy to compete. When you’re doing it for a company with plenty of BIG competitors on a global scale, it gets a bit more difficult.
Content is King
Wow, that term is played out.
Unfortunately, it’s true.
At this point, consumers are still thinking of the Google box instead of Facebook or Twitter when they’re looking to make a purchase.
As mentioned before, these people are searching for things like “Scuba lessons for families in Rock Creek Portland Oregon”. These are called long-tail keywords.
If you don’t have a content marketing strategy, you won’t hit these keywords.
Content Isn’t Easy
As more and more competitors launch in my day-job arena, creating content becomes more difficult. It used to be that we could just target high-value keywords like “SCUBA equipment” and be done with it.
Now we need to target keywords like “GoPro alternatives for technical diving”.
It’s like in Superman III where the bad guy skims pennies off every bank account in the world. Sure, he could have robbed the biggest account once, but that win would have been short lived. By going after all the pennies though, theoretically he would have been more successful.
It’s the same thing with online content.
It’s just much harder.
For big, high value keywords, I can use Google’s Keyword Research Tool (plus a few others I have in my tool belt) to find keywords. Unfortunately, once traffic numbers decrease, Google doesn’t track them.
I used to be able to use Google Analytics search queries, but Google started blocking those last year, so that makes life more difficult.
So now I spend my days looking at on-site search (only helpful if you have enough traffic that’s searching) and Google’s suggested search. It’s time consuming and again, I’m scouring for pennies.
Writers Aren’t So Easy to Find
I’ve had a few people contact me looking for writers for their blogs in various niches outside of the one I run in.
The problem is, as data becomes more difficult to find (search terms), and keywords become more refined, writers either have to know MUCH MORE about their subjects or they have to spend a lot of time researching the topic.
I’m fortunate enough to be able to share stories of my cave and tech training with my writer while also working her through divemaster and beyond.
Just as an experiment though, I posted a job to Craigslist, eLance, and Odesk looking for the following:
- Knowledgeable about SCUBA, the ocean, and general water sports
- Familiar with SCUBA equipment enough to be able to suggest specific items in articles
- Able to do long-tail keyword research
- Write 400+ words per day (although my writer does that x3)
- Know WordPress
- Able to source images and correctly cite them
- Knows how to correctly SEO an article without reading terribly for consumers
- Able to generate topic ideas independently (I help with this, but not every day)
- Native English speaker
Two or three years ago, I would have had a flood of $15-20 per article offers.
Now that content is the beginning of all inbound marketing? The least expensive qualified response I received was $65 per article.
This is a result of everyone understanding the need for content that ranks in search engines, even content that pulls in the pennies of searches.
Now, if you’re just having one or two written a month because you’re targeting “Scuba lessons for families in Rock Creek Portland Oregon” or “GoPro alternatives for technical diving”, that’s not a bad marketing budget. Scale it up to three times per day and it adds up.
If your niche is small, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to do this yourself. If you have a staff of divemasters, instructors, factory workers, salespeople, or instructor examiners, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to pump out a few 200+ word pieces of content per month.
But if you’re going after big keywords like “Scuba gear” or “Cozumel Scuba”, you may need the help of a trained professional. And it’s not as cheap as it would have been if you’d started two or three years ago.
However, if you don’t get started now and wait another two or three years, you’ll be behind exponentially.