Inbound Marketing is here to stay. The traditional means of advertising are fairly hit or miss these days. Traditional techniques, often called outbound marketing, employ a primary tactic of casting a wide net of information about a product, company or service to as broad a spectrum of individuals as possible in the hopes that someone will see ads via newspaper, magazine, outdoor advertising, mailings, and the like.
These kinds of advertising tend to be expensive and it’s often hard or impossible to track their effectiveness. Even if you are able to track results, the cost per lead is not always worth it. A business can argue that they get brand recognition from traditional advertising, but again, at what cost?
A more focused and highly trackable way of attracting leads and new customers is to utilize the Internet for Inbound Marketing. Almost 90% of American consumers are on the Internet. Think about that. When is the last time you opened a phone book or looked up an address without using the Internet? Your audience is looking, searching, finding, researching, shopping, and engaging – sometimes several hours a day – on the Internet.
But What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing has been defined by creditable sources as the Times Standard as a permission based marketing in which you earn your way into a potential customers good graces. Rather than push your way into someone’s day (selling mode) hoping to gain attention, Inbound Marketing focuses on people already looking for what you are offering (buying mode).
This is accomplished by a well thought out Internet business strategy that focuses on what your potential customers are looking for on the web. Here are the three key elements of Inbound Marketing:
1. SEO – the foundation of long term organic results which generates %85 of the traffic to websites. Keywords, on and off page optimization, link building, search engine compliance and more
2. Content – Remarkable content like video, articles, whitepapers, posts and ebooks just to name a few
3. Social Media – blogs, social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and more
The idea is to give people the opportunity to learn about a company, product or service, interact and choose to be your customer rather than being swayed by advertising.
Inbound Marketing Part 1 – Converting Attention to Sales
Gaining the attention of potential customers is one of the most important goals of inbound marketing. After all, if no one can find you how do you compete? If they found you looking for “lawn care” then your SEO or other marketing efforts are working. The mistake a surprising number of business make with their online presence and marketing is to assume THE goal is to get people to their website. But, do you want people to visit your website, or do you want to convert them to a customer – if not immediately, eventually?
So if you accomplish the first goal of getting found with great SEO and content placement, what’s next? This is where the rest of Inbound Marketing comes in. Of course there are some differences in strategy for businesses that have longer sales cycles where consumers start by doing more extensive research (like real estate) than a service or product that is typically a “buy now,” but the fundamentals are the same.
Inbound Marketing Part 2 – Converting Sales to Customers
Let’s say you offer a blog about lawn care. A reader that finds your blog already knows that they want their lawn to be cared for. Do you need to sell them on lawn care, or on your lawn care service? The object is to show the person reading you blog, your post, or who found your website why you are better, more unique, or more affordable than the competition. If you want to retain them as a future customer as well, you need to make their first contact with you especially memorable.
The way to do this is not through being pushy, but by providing information, service and knowledge that the best in the business would provide. Those who are the most successful at inbound marketing aim to inform their potential clients about what they do, the benefits of using their services or products, and to make the buying experience a pleasure. The choice to do business with one company over another is purely individual. Once made, if the experience with your company is good with an added personal touch, it can lead to customer loyalty and the best marketing of all…referrals.
Someone once said “It’s easier to get a new customer than to retain an existing one.” Whether you agree with that statement or not, the most successful companies build their online business with good, well executed Inbound Marketing strategies, track their results, and pay close attention to what drives retention and referrals.
For more information about how your company can achieve its business goals utilizing Inbound Marketing, contact the Director of Inbound Marketing at Caliber Media Group for a complimentary website analysis.