Inbound marketing is something that most small business owners have heard of but few have implemented consistently. But for those who do take the plunge, many are experiencing a more cost effective and in many ways a more successful form of marketing, than traditional outbound marketing such as direct mail, trade shows and print, radio and TV advertising.
What is it?
Inbound marketing is using online activities, such as social media, search engine optimization, public relations and content marketing (such as blogging and eNewsletters) to attract your target prospects to your brand, product or service and generate warm leads. These prospects find your brand primarily through search, looking for information they need to solve a problem or fulfill a need.
It consists of a range of techniques, all of which are focused on attracting customers through relationship building.
Why do I care?
When a prospective customer finds your brand through inbound marketing, the useful information you provide gives them a different perspective about your company.
For most small businesses, inbound marketing is effective because you:
- Build brand visibility to those looking for the product or service you offer by developing informational content that attracts their attention.
- Generate warm leads through them finding your content rather than pushing your information on cold prospects.
- Develop and nurture relationships with these warm leads through quality content and online conversations.
- Build your own, permission based email marketing list.
- Develop a reputation as an expert in your field, putting you in a position of authority and trust.
For most small businesses, adding inbound marketing activities to your marketing plan is important to acquiring long term, loyal customers.
What are the benefits?
- Costs less: Enables you to engage in marketing tactics that cost less and are more effective than traditional outbound marketing tactics. According to the “2011 State of Inbound Marketing” study by Hubspot, the cost per lead is 62% lower than leads generated by outbound marketing.
- Creates brand loyalty: Attracts the right audience to your business like a magnet. Most buyers today research the products and services that they need long before connecting with a vendor. If someone is spending the time reading your blog, downloading your white papers and joining your email list, they are making a commitment to your brand. When you build brand loyalty, these warm prospects will make the connection with you when they are ready to buy.
- Builds trust: When you provide useful information, solve a problem, answer questions and connect with those who read your content or connect with you on a social networking site, you develop a more personal relationship that helps them decide whether to do business with you or not.
- Expands your universe: For many small businesses, reaching a broad audience was unattainable due to the cost. Attracting potential customers to your website with quality content can help small businesses reach a broader, more geographically dispersed audience. If your business can service customers nationally or internationally, inbound marketing is a must for your business.
How do I get Started?
This series of posts will cover the basics of inbound marketing. Following this overview, topics will include (and more may be added as we go):
- Creating your inbound marketing plan
- Setting up the basics
- Defining your content strategy
- Optimizing your content for search engines
- Building your social media community
- Capturing and nurturing leads
- Reviewing your results
So when I ask “How Will You Find Your Next Client — or Will They Find You?”, it is a direct challenge for you to define an inbound marketing strategy and let those who are ready to buy contact you.
What am I not covering that you want to know?