For those of us who lived through the 80s, the future has been kind of a let down. Over 30 years later and we still have no flying cars, jetpacks, or SkyNet controlled robot armies (though that last one may be for best). But for all these shortcomings, we did get the smartphones, watches like Dick Tracy, and most importantly, the internet. The internet is rare breed of technology that does everything they said it would and then some. Despite this, many business owners have failed to use the internet for their maximum benefit. For those who have dreamed of a day where the internet would bring customers to them, the future is now, and that future is called inbound marketing. This post will explain what inbound marketing is, why it’s so effective, and what business owners need to know so they can get started today.
Put succinctly, inbound marketing is a form of business promotion that relies on the consumer coming to the content rather than the other way around. To illustrate, when a business sends out a mass mailer, this is outbound marketing because the content is going to consumers with the hope that some of them will call the company. In contrast, inbound marketing uses tactics like blogs, where the people who are searching for information, come to the site on their own accord. By creating content that attracts their ideal customer, inbound marketers can turn strangers into visitors, visitors into leads, and leads into closed sales.
Inbound marketing works because it moves away from just getting web traffic to a site to a better focus on finding the right customer in the right state of mind. This is more than just a marketing theory, inbound marketing is showing tremendous results already. According to Hubspot, 33 percent of all leads in 2013 came from inbound marketing and 82 percent of marketers who blog on a daily basis have acquired a customer through their blog content. Since there is little chance that these trends will reverse themselves, it’s vital that business owners start promoting their business through inbound marketing today.
There a lot of ways that business owners can start implementing and inbound marketing. The internet has created an almost limitless selection of platforms that business owners can use to get their content to the public, like social media networks, blogs, and websites. The important thing to do is create content that will attract consumers. The best content normally contains one or more of the following themes:
Targeted Content – This is content that has been specifically crafted to answers a customer’s basic questions and needs. This is good for SEO because people are searching for these answers. And it works with social media because readers share that content with other interested parties.
Lifetime Consumer Marketing – This is content created for consumers as they go through the various stages of interaction with a company. New customers are at a different stage as someone who has been a customer for years each stage requires different marketing and content strategies.
Personalized Content – As business owners get to know their online fan base and the needs of their consumers, they can better personalize messages to their specific needs and interests. To illustrate, if it becomes clear that there is a lot of customers who are fans of a local charity, a business owner can produced content for that mentions the work the company and the charity do together.
Multi-channel and Multi-channel content – Because of the high amount of variability in the sites and kinds of devices that people use to access content, it’s imperative that inbound marketers make sure they have content for every channel and device. Inbound marketing is multi-channel by nature because it approaches people where they are, in the channel where they want to interact with the business. Content on posted on Facebook should be sent to other relevant networks and all content should be mobile optimized for tablets and smartphones.
The classic saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” is true for consumers and marketing. There is only so much a business can accomplish if they’re only using outbound marketing. Outbound marketing requires a happy coincidence of a consumer needs and the timing of a business’s advertisement. Inbound marketing bypasses this issue by trying to attract the consumers who are most in need of the business’s services. This is a more effective way of reaching a target audience and getting them to take action. So rather than lead horses to the water to see which ones drink, make a watering hole that’s attractive to thirsty horses, and they will come and drink on their own.