Well you asked for it. More completely unsolicited advice that costs you zero dollars. Next up is Cari Baldwin is president of Bluebird Strategies.The Bend-based marketing automation and demand generation firm serves fast-growing tech companies, including established firms and venture-backed startups. A seasoned demand gen expert, Baldwin has more than two decades of experience in the field. Here is her free advice on why inbound marketing is a critical tool for startups.<br />

Well you asked for it. More completely unsolicited advice that costs you zero dollars. Next up is Cari Baldwin is president of Bluebird Strategies.The Bend-based marketing automation and demand generation firm serves fast-growing tech companies, including established firms and venture-backed startups. A seasoned demand gen expert, Baldwin has more than two decades of experience in the field. Here is her free advice on why inbound marketing is a critical tool for startups.

Cari Baldwin, president and founder of BlueBird Strategies.
Cari Baldwin, president and founder of BlueBird Strategies.

In the startup world, every dollar is precious. Entrepreneurs want to invest in activities that will generate revenue and support growth, without breaking the bank. Inbound marketing is a cost-effective way to engage prospects, generate leads, and acquire new customers.

Inbound marketing focuses on creating content that your potential customers can use in their business, helping them find that content through search and social marketing, and using it to encourage them to contact you for further exploration about working together. Inbound marketing can be less expensive and more effective than traditional outbound approaches. And when done correctly, inbound marketing can help boost your revenue. When I coach early stage companies on demand generation, I advise them to take these four steps to get moving:

1.  Create content that benefits your potential customer. 

Seems simple, but it is often not an easy task for entrepreneurs, who are more excited about the cool product features they want to share with the world. However, by identifying, understanding and solving your customer’s business problem, in their language, you can provide potential customers with the guidance they need to move forward with their efforts. The content should be relevant and useful. Then when it works, they’ll think of you and your company in the future, when their progress might require your service or product. Blogging can provide the platform for  regular contributions and helpful articles

2.  Get your SEO basics down cold.

Invest in organic search and have a basic understanding of your keywords (using tools such as:

Also see what your competition is up to using a tool like www.spyfu.com. By educating yourself on the basics of SEO you can refine your content and Calls To Action (CTA) to activate your potential customers.

3.  Share the knowledge.

Social media is a powerful tool, but it takes a little time to build up your networks and create the momentum that can help your business. If you haven’t already, start by creating your online profiles for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, StumbleUpon, YouTube and others. Then start sharing your content. There is plenty of research showing the best time for posting and cadence for maximum results. A recent study I saw said that companies that generate more than 1,000 Facebook likes also receive nearly 1,400 website visits a day. And don’t forget to share other’s content as well. Find a useful article and share it with your followers. Become a source for great information.

4.  Make sure your website is ready to convert.

So you’ve got them to your site, but your lead forms are boring and lack any motivational Call to Action. Is your web copy clear and concise? Do your CTAs compel your visitors to signup or ask for more information? Is your website mobile friendly? Do you have forms and a follow-up process for sales?

The next tactic would be lead nurturing, but we’ll save that topic for another day.

Follow these steps to put your startup on the path to inbound success. To help with the technology investment, Hubspot offers a scholarship program for seed stage startups for $80/month http://www.hubspot.com/jumpstart. It’s a great investment with measurable ROI.

Reach Cari Baldwin on Twitter @caribaldwin or find her at linkedin.com/caribaldwin.

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of StartupBend.com, is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and Bend. In addition to writing this blog, she creates content and manages content projects for global financial companies, tech firms and startups. She began her career as a newspaper journalist and later worked as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in WSJ.com, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at kellykearsley.contently.com or kellykearsley.com.

You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].
Kelly Kearsley