What is Inbound Marketing?
When a lot of people think of marketing, they first think of outbound marketing, or advertising, not inbound marketing but what is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is the antithesis of outbound marketing.
Instead of reaching out and communicating with potential clients through advertising, inbound marketing means drawing potential clients in, by providing valuable and relevant content to them.
Basically, inbound marketing is about attracting the people that are already looking for you.
Inbound marketing brings people to the content that you create, a.k.a. your content marketing efforts. Your content should be relevant to your clients and prospects.
The first step to effective inbound marketing is content. This is often in the form of a blog and web pages. Other forms of content include live video, photos, slideshows, whiteboard demonstrations, or any other medium that can add value to a visit. Think: What do your clients need to know? What do they want to read or hear about? What will excite them? Write about what you and your clients have in common. If you make visits to your blog or website valuable, informative, and interesting, your readers will come back!
Do you want more details on What is Content Marketing? Read our blog that compares Inbound v. Content here.
The next crucial step is Search Engine Optimization. SEO is what determines whether or not people find your site. Good SEO means when people search relevant terms, your site shows up as a top search result, and you get lots of visitors. Bad SEO? You can figure it out.
SEO is arguably the defining characteristic of Inbound Marketing, because it’s all about bringing in the people who are looking for your stuff.
You may be thinking something along the lines of, “I’m confused, because I thought blogging was content marketing. What’s the difference between that and inbound marketing?” Check out our blog post on Inbound Marketing vs. Content Marketing!
Would you like to talk to a Breezy Hill representative about our Inbound Marketing and Content Marketing programs? Contact us here.
So how does Inbound Marketing work exactly?
Imagine that, instead of a writer and student, I’m a hat salesman. I sell all kinds of hats: fedoras, crowns, 10-gallon hats, you name it!
You are you.
On a day-to-day basis, you don’t see my inbound marketing efforts. Until you need a hat. But as soon as you search for something hat-related, my inbound marketing efforts draw you in. Because hat-salesman Willy is an awesome inbound marketer.
Let’s say you search something like, “Hats for winter.” Well, perhaps hat-salesman Willy wrote a post titled, “Top 10 Hats for Winter 2016.” Thanks to great SEO, you see that article as a top result. And you click on it, because you find the title and description intriguing and relevant. That’s inbound marketing.
The logic behind inbound marketing is that if I can get you onto my site, I can provide you with more excellent content, get you engaged in my business, educate you about my products, and eventually sell you one. All for a hat? Ah, marketing!
So what’s the advantage of Inbound Marketing?
First of all, it isn’t annoying. Unlike outbound marketing, which is shown to people who usually don’t want to see it, inbound marketing gets to exactly the people that are interested in you and your stuff and provides VALUE. Instead of being a pain, inbound marketing can result in a positive, enjoyable customer experience. Ideally, it does every time!
Additionally, inbound marketing isn’t just about selling a product; it’s about building a positive relationship between you and your customers. You’re selling your brand, not just your product. And a brand can be worth a lifetime of products.
Often, your prospects also don’t know exactly what they need or want until researching a problem, desire, or new subject. You know your field and market; you can educate your prospects on your field, products, and services. That way, if your products are the right solutions for your potential clients, they’ll come to you first.
If you’ve provided your visitors with a positive experience, they’ll often share your content. And then you get more visitors! Natural promotion is arguably the best form of advertising, and inbound marketing strategy is the best way to get natural promotion.
“Inbound marketing sounds awesome! How do I do it?”
We always say the first step to successful digital marketing is your website. Your website is often the first impression a potential client gets of your business, so make it awesome! Make sure it looks great and does exactly what it’s supposed to. Quickly. Seriously, a slow website is the easiest way to lose potential customers.
Lots of helpful, content-rich pages are good. If your visitors want more content on your site, give it to them! If you organize your site well and space your content properly, you should be able to provide tons of page content without making your site feel cluttered.
Next, start generating content! The more you blog, or post videos, or whatever else you do, the more successful your inbound marketing efforts will be. But make sure your stuff is actually worth reading or viewing, because remember, you do actually want people to check it out it. Think about topics that you and your clients have in common, or about topics that excite you, and then write about them. Did your business do release a new product? Discover a new technique or strategy? Bring on a new employee? Any advice to share, or trends to keep up with? Write about it!
Pay attention to SEO. This is crucial for successful inbound marketing. What good is all the content you’ve written if nobody finds it? No good at all. Make your content efforts worthwhile by optimizing your entire site, including your blog, for search engine crawling and indexing. If you need more SEO advice, check out this article.
Optimize your website and blog for social media. A major advantage of inbound marketing is sharable content. When someone shares your content on social media, you can influence how many people click on the link by providing a featured photo, catchy title, and appealing description. Generally, this means ensuring your featured photos meet various social media networks' requirements, filling out the title fields and alt text fields of every photo with catchy titles and keyword-rich descriptions, and sometimes entering network-specific descriptions, titles, etc.
We believe inbound marketing is an indispensable tool in your marketing toolbox.
It allows you to reach the people who want to hear what you have to say, and who will be interested in what you do. And it helps the people looking for your product or service find you!
Do you believe inbound marketing is the way of the future? Or am I totally crazy? Let me know in the comments section!