A Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Fundamentals

Introduction

There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. — Colin Powell

When I first began down the marketing path, I took a course with Hubspot. It’s a great website to check out for all the latest marketing techniques. The base version is free, so go check it out. If you want additional features, you can upgrade for a monthly fee. They teach you the very basic fundamentals of what marketing is today, which is creating an experience for the customer that is easy and informative. There are plenty of helpful tutorials to learn from. I usually watch a few videos each day. At the end of each section, there is a mini-quiz to test your retention. You can work on getting certified through Hubspot, which I am currently working on myself.

I decided to put together a list of inbound marketing tips for you that I have learned along the way. If you’re interested, let’s get started.

Topics Discussed

  • Know Your Audience
  • Pay Attention to Your Competitors
  • Have a Compelling Image
  • Use Proper Image Sizes
  • Create Good Captions
  • When to Post Content
  • How Often to Post
  • The Importance of Editors
  • Have a Plan of Action
  • Keep Researching

Know Your Audience

Today it’s not about ‘get the traffic’ — it’s about ‘get the targeted and relevant traffic.’ — Adam Audette

Before you begin posting it’s important to first identify the type of audience you are trying to reach. Do your research by looking into the demographics of your viewers: where they live, what industry they work in, where they get their information, and most importantly — what are their problems. This will help determine what type of content you will need to create in order to bring people into your business. If you don’t know this, then there is really no reason for your readers to click on your content.

By Nathan Dumlao from Unsplash

Generally speaking, your potential customers have a problem they want solved. When solving a problem, people are genetically programmed to exert the least amount of effort for the most gain. As a marketer, it’s your job to showcase how best to solve that problem in the most cost-effective way. When you implement this, then you are well on your way to having more traffic to your social media platforms and website.

Pay Attention to Your Competitors

Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart. — Joe Chernov, CMO of InsightSquared

A good suggestion when first starting out is to look at what your top competitors are posting about and observe what is working for them. Pick just 5 to get started. Everything is at your finger tips, so go check out their Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn pages. See if you can establish any patterns. Pay attention to the types of images they are using, the captions they create, how frequently they are posting, and when. Once you do this, make a list of the type of content that has the most engagement. Try to mimic that method for a few weeks and see what type of results you get.

This is just a starting point. You should continually modify your process to figure out what will work for your particular business.

Have a Compelling Image

You have heard it before and the saying is true, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” This will be what people notice first before diving into the real meat of your content, especially when it comes to blogs. Always try to have an image associated with any social media post. Studies have shown on Facebook that posts that contain an image have a 37% increase in engagement. So utilize this, it’s easy.

Overall, your image should be clean, fit your content theme, and have the ability to draw in a person. To further emphasize this, people use roughly 30% of their visual cortex, which explains why they gravitate to things that are pleasing to the eye.

For high-quality stock photos, I tend to frequent Unsplash, Pixabay, Pexels, and Stocksnap.io.

Use Proper Image Sizes

Make sure you use the correct image size for each platform you will be posting on. If you don’t, then you run the risk of photos getting cropped in odd places. This can be distracting to the viewer, so always make sure you have the proper dimensions. Sproutsocial has a great guide you can read through that will list all the image sizes for each social network.

By Dawid Małecki from Unsplash

When an image needs to be refined a bit, I generally use Sketch. It’s a design tool used by a lot of UI/UX designers. However, I tend to use it to create cover photos for some of our posts, blogs, and to resize stock photos.

Creating Good Captions

So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads. — Dr. Seuss

The rule of thumb for captions is the shorter the better. Try to begin them with an action word, this will help pull in your readers. Most social media platforms have character count limits. This will especially be important when sharing the same content across multiple platforms, so make sure your captions evenly fit.

When it comes to captions I usually like to keep them to about 3–4 sentences long. Twitter tends to be the shortest, with a character count of 280. Facebook and LinkedIn have a greater limit, however, when they get too long, there will be a read more tag. Make sure you capture the reader’s interest at the very beginning. For a more detailed breakdown of the perfect caption length, visit here.

Using hashtags at the end of your captions can be very useful since they can further extend the reach of your audience. Anyone who searches that particular hashtag can easily find your content. I recommend using no more than 2–3 per post and placing them at the end of your caption.

When to Post Content

Every platform is going to have an optimal posting time. The type of business that you market, for instance, will dictate this too. Do some research on Google for the best times. Look for people who are in a similar area of business as you to see when they are putting out content. Another way to help figure this out is to look into your business’s Google analytics page. If you don’t have one, I highly suggest you set it up. With it, you can observe when the majority of people will be online. You can also visit the insights tab of your business's Facebook page, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The insights tabs will tell you how many people engaged with your content when it was posted.

By Djim Loic from Unsplash

Be aware that what might be a good posting time on Facebook is not going to correlate to when you should ideally post something on let’s say LinkedIn or Twitter. Hubspot has done a lot of research with figuring the perfect times. You can check out this link here for a more complete breakdown.

How Often to Post

Generally speaking, the more you post, the better. I have seen some companies post several times per day, however, if you are relatively new then don’t worry. At this point, I recommend just posting a few times per week until you establish yourself with a back log of good content. Quality over quantity is always the best course of action to take. As you grow your business, there will be more opportunities coming your way that will engage your audience, so don’t sweat it too much.

When posting across multiple sites, use a platform that allows you to schedule your posts across the different social media accounts. By doing this, you spend less of your time micromanaging and more time developing rich content for your followers. For our company, we are currently using Buffer. It’s designed to help manage your posts. It also has a section devoted to analyzing your results from each post, which can be very helpful.

The Importance of Editors

Be a good editor. The Universe needs more good editors… 
 — Kurt Vonnegut, Letters

Before publishing, make sure you have a second pair of eyes to review your teams work. If you have a third available editor, then utilize that resource too! They can potentially catch any typos or grammatical mistakes. You are representing your company, making sure your posts are free from any error is very important. I cannot stress this enough. There have been numerous times that an editor has caught something that I unintentionally missed. If your audience notices that you made a grammatical slip-up, then it can come across as unprofessional.

Have a Plan of Action

You now know a few of the basics, however, this is nothing if you don’t put forth a plan of action for yourself and your team. Ask yourself how you are actually going to implement this plan. Who will be in charge of coming up with content, reports, managing, writing blogs, editing, posting content, etc.?

Setting up some sort of outlined schedule for each social media platform can be very helpful. Here you can list the type of content you will be posting, the time, and whether or not it was completed. Then as you go, you can easily check them off your list. There are quite a few fancy tools out there but if you are on a budget, laying out a Google spreadsheet can just as easily do the task. By forming a set procedure, you will increase your chances of actually following through and be well on your way to creating great consistent content for your audience!

Keep Researching

Marketing’s job is never done. It’s about perpetual motion. We must continue to innovate every day. — Beth Comstock, Vice Chair of GE

Last, but not least, keep researching. As with most jobs, marketing is an ever-evolving industry. What might have been working a year or even a month ago probably might not be as effective now. With that being said, I suggest keeping up to date with the latest marketing techniques by reading blogs, online articles, newspapers, attending webinars, brainstorming with your team, enrolling in marketing classes, or even going to marketing related events. Always continue furthering your learning process.

By Andrew Neel from Unsplash

Try experimenting every now and then with different types of content and observe the amount of engagement you get from it. If it did well, ask yourself why and vice versa. As long as it relates to your business it’s perfectly acceptable to think outside the box.


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