Ever noticed that everyone seems to be talking about inbound marketing these days? In fact, to many it’s simply the internet marketing magic wand you need to turn your business fortunes around for good!
Of course, I wouldn’t doubt that. However, it’s rather unfortunate that of those talking, only a few really know what is inbound marketing. On various occasions I have heard many of these self proclaimed ‘content marketing experts’ refer to content marketing as one and the same as inbound marketing!
Of course, the two terms can definitely be used interchangeably but, is inbound marketing all about content marketing?
Can simply creating and distributing content online with the mind of selling a product or service be referred to as an inbound marketing?
In this article I aim to clear some of the misconceptions about inbound marketing. If you are considering marketing your business online using inbound marketing or you are somehow already doing so, the following information will help you better understand and effectively implement this marketing strategy that is taking the internet by storm!
So, What Really Is Inbound Marketing?
Simply put, inbound marketing is a general term for different marketing techniques that are combined into an overall marketing plan to produce outstanding results.
Now, the key to understanding this definition is the word COMBINED. You must understand that these techniques are “combined” not “strung” together.
Before now, marketers using what is now referred to as outbound marketing, adopted fragmented techniques like print advertising, internet advertising, PR, cold calling, etc. in an attempt to boost sales.
The intent then was to reach as many prospects as possible. It doesn’t matter to the outbound marketer if the prospect needed that product or service at that very moment. It was simply about pushing out different marketing messages with the mind of seeing which one would stick!
Now, that strategy was nothing but the old “foot-in-the-door sales technique” when you go knocking on doors and ‘forcing’ yourself into the homes of prospective clients, trying to convince them of how wonderful your product is!
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Indeed, outbound marketing was nothing but a hit and miss affair!
Inbound marketing on the other hand puts the focus on the prospect/customer instead of your product, service or company. Instead of using some clever hard sell tactics to get the sale from the reluctant and indifferent prospects or customers, you position yourself and make the business come to you.
The Strategic Steps to Inbound Marketing Success
Every successful inbound marketing campaign begins with research. You need to know what the demand is and where it is coming from. Creating your inbound marketing content without any research is nothing but operating with the outbound marketing mindset.
You need to research what you competition is doing, what your prospects and customers need and what they are saying about you, your product or service.
The good thing is that you don’t have to look far as the internet has a lot to offer you about this research. You can use the search engines and keyword tools, many of which come without a price tag, to know what your target audience are asking or looking for.
Social media sites come handy here also.
I must say that when I hear any self proclaimed inbound marketing expert say, SEO is dead, I immediately know that that person really don’t know what inbound marketing is. SEO is simply one of the old techniques that is necessary in inbound marketing. SEO helps you produce the ‘right’ content that will help you attract the right prospect based on your research.
I do not just recommend understanding the basics of SEO as an inbound marketer because I am an SEO web content writer but because it is really the bedrock of creating the right content for your inbound marketing campaign.
As mentioned above, once you have listened and understood what your existing and prospective customers needs are from the conversations they are having online, your next move is to produce content that address those needs.
You should aim to be the go-to-resource by positioning yourself as a voice and authority in your industry. This way, prospective clients or customers will be attracted to you instead of you running after them.
It is important to note that creating quality and useful content that engages the attention of your prospects and customers is actually the most vital part of your inbound marketing strategy. It is what truly drives the inbound marketing wheel. This is why many see content marketing as one and the same as inbound marketing!
It is important therefore that as a business if you are hard up on time or you simply lack the in-house resources to create valuable web content, you mustn’t hesitate in hiring professional content writers since this will pay handsome dividend in the long run.
Inbound marketing is not a one-way traffic. It is not just about listening and producing quality content. That is nothing but ‘old school’ outbound marketing.
Working with what you know about your target audience in your research and using your content as a launching pad, you should move beyond that and aim to know them more ‘intimately’. Engage with them in order to gain their trust.
One effective way to do this is through social media. With social media you can spark a two-way conversation with your prospects/customers. There are tools that will help you set up keyword alerts to notify you of discussions about you and your product or service. One such service is Google alerts.
Email marketing is another old technique that you can use. Initiate the conversation on social media and then find a way of also getting them on your email list where you work on developing the relationship.
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The ultimate aim of marketing is actually the resultant sale. Suspects and visitors needs to be converted into leads while leads must be converted to customers.
Through your engagement and lead nurturing, you expertly move every prospect through the buying cycle and ensure that when they are ready to buy, you will definitely be the ultimate choice!
This demands creating more and different types of content focused on the different stages of the buying cycle. Work with your insights and interactions and create the right type of content required.
By now you definitely know that things change easily and quickly online. You must therefore aim at improving your inbound marketing strategy continuously. Analyze, track and ensure your content is updated to keep leads not only engaged but also to remain loyal to your brand. Continuously improve on your offerings to stay on top of what is working.
Simply put, rinse and repeat!
Looking at the whole gamut of inbound marketing you will understand that content is the bedrock. This definitely accounts for why many see content marketing as one and the same with inbound marketing. But as you have seen from the above, inbound marketing is actually more than content marketing.
Nevertheless, for you to really succeed with your inbound marketing strategies, you need high quality content. And so, if you lack in house expertise you can get quality professional SEO content writers to help you with your web content.