What is Inbound Marketing?
The emergence of inbound marketing has been one of the most significant changes to take place in the world of business in recent memory. From 2006 until the present day, inbound marketing has taken center stage as the preferred way to do business online, not only because of its unquestionable superiority over traditional marketing methods, but also because of its substantial cost-effectiveness. So what exactly is it?
What is inbound marketing? In a nutshell, inbound marketing focuses on attracting customers to your business by creating quality content that informs, educates and adds value to your potential prospects. Traditional marketing methods (also referred to as “outbound” methods) emphasize one-way communication — like billboards, print ads, radio spots, television commercials, online banner ads, etc.– in an effort to “push” a company’s message to potential leads. Inbound marketing takes the opposite approach by “pulling” customers to your business by way of offering them valuable content that naturally aligns with their interests and preferences.
As you focus on creating and sharing informative, exceptional content, you will attract qualified leads to your business and position yourself to nurture them through each phase of your conversion process. The ultimate goal of inbound marketing extends beyond the first sale; your main focus is to so thoroughly engage your customers that they will remain with you for the life of your business. This can only happen when you have made it a practice to add value to their lives on a consistent basis. Savvy inbound marketers know how to regularly engage, inform and even delight their existing customers, which will in turn convert them into willing brand evangelists or promoters of your products and services.
Perhaps the most central principle to inbound marketing is that of publishing useful content that targets your ideal customer. As any online marketer will tell you, it’s not enough to get traffic to your website–you must get the right type of traffic. This means that you will want to focus your efforts on creating the type of content that will attract people who are most likely to become qualified leads. This will increase the likelihood that the majority of your web traffic will ultimately convert into paying customers. There are a number of ways to engage in this all-important practice of content marketing; below are some of the most effective methods in use today.
Many experts consider blogging to be the nucleus of inbound marketing. Not everyone that blogs is an inbound marketer, but every inbound marketer needs to have a blog. Blogging is one of the most tried-and-true methods of attracting qualified leads to your website. When you regularly publish informative content that addresses the needs, wants, questions and pain points of your ideal customer, your blog becomes a magnet that draws them to your business.
Audio or Video Content
As powerful as blogging is, there is a large portion of your audience that simply doesn’t enjoy reading as much as they do listening to podcasts or watching online videos. You can publish an audio podcast or create a collection of online videos that offer industry insights, how-to tutorials or other valuable information that your potential prospects will want to dig into. This will do wonders in terms of converting your visitors into leads, and ultimately into customers.
Social Media Participation
A business without a social media presence is missing out on one of the most powerful tools available to engage and connect with their customers. Find out where your ideal customers like to socialize online and set up shop there. Become an active participant in the online communities that provide you with the most qualified leads, and offer genuine value to every person you interact with. Maintaining a solid social media presence will help your customers put a face to your brand, and amplify the human element of your business that much more.
Ebooks, White Papers, Newsletters, etc.
Any time you can offer a valuable downloadable resource in exchange for someone’s contact information, you are engaging in the essence of inbound marketing. Some of the most popular types of digital content to offer are ebooks, whitepapers and email newsletters. Make sure that you take the time to craft highly informative and educational content that will add genuine value to your customer, but at the same time inspire them to seek additional information. This form of content marketing will guide them through the conversion process in a manner that leaves them better than you found them, and that should be the ultimate goal of your inbound marketing efforts.
The subject of inbound marketing is indeed massive, but it really all boils down to earning the attention of your customer instead of elbowing your way into their line of sight through obtrusive means. By utilizing inbound marketing techniques, you can reliably convert the casual visitor into an engaged customer, all the while fostering a relationship with them that is mutually beneficial.