What is Inbound marketing?
What is inbound marketing?
If you’ve ever heard the expression ‘a reputable business’ then you’re already familiar with one of the concepts behind Inbound Marketing – a good reputation. But Inbound Marketing is more than that. It’s a buzzword marketing term that’s used everywhere on the web these days and for good reason. It’s the natural evolution of Social Networking and consumer consciousness melting into one. It’s also a natural response to Google’s goal to push more relevant and original popular content to the top of search results. Google and Social Networking are two of the most powerful communication tools going – some would say THE most powerful tools. And they’re global. Suddenly being ‘reputable’ just got a whole lot more important.
So what exactly is Inbound Marketing? It might be easier to say what it’s not. It’s not commercials, it’s not pop-up videos or ads, it’s not spam or cold calls or any other type of Interruption Marketing. In fact it’s none of the aggressive marketing tactics that most of us hate. Inbound marketing is in fact the reverse of all that.
Not that long ago if you wanted to know about a good place to have dinner you’d ask a friend. Know a solid car mechanic? Same thing – you ask around. Now all that is done online. But now you don’t just ask friends, you ask other consumers. You read their online reviews and see the stars and see who’s talking about businesses. You see how many likes they have – maybe that matters more than reviews – whatever. It’s called the modern mobile world. A good business with a solid online presence will do well in this new world. If you’re not online then all I can say is good luck. Word of mouth is great – online word of mouth is greater.
But this still doesn’t define the term so what exactly does inbound marketing mean?
Inbound marketing is when you engage the online community in a strategic way that promotes your business and brings new people to your virtual door.
Yes it’s that simple but trust me, it get’s more complicated.
When you or your organization engages in activities like writing interesting articles about a certain subject you are marketing your knowledge. Now when you take this article and push this out to social media then something more powerful happens. You are now promoting your knowledge and connecting with other people on that subject, product or issue. They in turn might share this article or piece of information with others that they think would also be interested. Ideally you will have a multiplying effect of knowledge and information being shared, talked about and categorized by potential clients, customers and stakeholders. To Google and other search engines, whenever people look for information about that subject – your company can show up in search results. How high depends on how many times your info is shared and re-shared and how popular or notable everyone in the chain is.
Be the Cheese.
Good quality content and having a decent online rep can make all of these factors multiply. Ideally, if you are the number one deli in town then every time an online search for ‘Deli’ is made – you should come up. If you specialize on top of that then own that specialized category. For example: there are several Deli’s in town but you just happen to be one that does gourmet cheese. Well then you need to promote this and let it be known that when the words ‘gourmet cheese’ is mentioned – your name comes up. Send out newsletters to people who sign up for them, offer cheese tastings, talk about cheese. In simple words: Be the cheese.
Of course success in all this depends on a couple of key things: the quality of your content, the popularity of the subject matter & your ability to reach a large number of people. In short, being good helps but being popular helps allot. How do you get popular? Well that’s literally a million dollar question and there’s a million blog post to prove it. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Inbound Marketing Tools you can use:
- Social Media – Actively posting to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.
- SEO – Good Search Engine Optimization protocol for your website
- Reputation Management – Learn what people are saying about you.
- Landing Pages – Make a good first impression online.
- Email Marketing – Communicate with people.
- Paid Search – Sometimes you need to pay to play.
- Lead Generation – Follow up on questions, keep email lists and grow relationships.
- Communication Plan – Have a strategy and work it.
Okay, then what?
Once you have become a source of information for people the search engines take notice. You have a stake in the world wide web and gain a foothold in the public zeitgeist. Maybe you have the best site for Muffin Recipes, a great product review for Electric Bicycles or speak passionately about a charitable foundation – it doesn’t matter. You are marketing yourself as a source of knowledge and as an authority on your subject. The more you engage the public on a topic people are looking for then the more likely you will be seen as a valuable source of information on that subject. If you’re in a business – they’re called customers.
Now when people search online for a product, a service or subject then there is chance you will show up. In short the customer is drawn to your organization through a combination of thoughtful and consistent online messages and digital strategies. It’s like word of mouth powered by an almost unlimited multiplier.
The customer is drawn to your organization through a combination of thoughtful and consistent online messages and digital strategies.
Inbound marketing is and should be about letting people discover your service or product because you’ve become an important source of information to people. How? You engage the right groups, you get great online reviews, you provide solid information, you respond and promote your knowledge on social media. In short: you add real value.
It sounds great but a little too good to be true
Well inbound marketing isn’t for everybody but if you have any kind of a business or organization where people are contacting you, then you’re already doing it. Inbound marketing is word of mouth, it’s reputations and recommendations. It’s customer service and following up with people good news or bad. It’s all of the things that good businesses and organizations have been doing for generations but now it’s amplified by the the internet and it’s incredible instant influence and reach.