Inbound marketing is a reasonably new term in the world of digital marketing. But it’s not a complicated concept. It refers to methods of attracting traffic to a website, landing page, or app by providing high quality content that draws visitors in.
Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.
The first point of contact is usually via social shares or Google Search. Visitors are looking for the content provided and if your SEO and landing pages are set up well.. voila – they come straight to you.
Once visitors are drawn to the website, they access your content – blog posts, ebooks, downloaded documents, tools, apps, video, tutorials, how to guides, or other advice – sometimes in exchange for a share or an email address… marking their first inbound interaction with a brand, website or service.
Recent research by HubSpot found:
If your company doesn’t have the budget for a full-fledged inbound marketing program, or to work with an inbound marketing agency, you can start small. You might run a small-scale inbound marketing campaign by putting up keyword-rich blog posts and responding to Facebook and Twitter followers, directing them to the appropriate landing pages, or entering them into the CRM for follow up.
While Inbound Marketing sounds like the opposite of cold calling, Ari Galper cautions against this mindset:
“Inbound e-mails or calls are exactly like cold calls except that the leads have taken the first step by contacting you,” writes Ari Galper, a sales expert and consultant. “This means that the inbound ‘warm’ leads we get so excited about are actually no different from ‘cold’ leads. Why? Because you can’t assume you have any more of a relationship with an inbound lead than you do with someone you cold call.”
The point is to stay open to the conversation that the visitor has just started.
“Although it’s true that inbound leads are obviously open to talking with you because they contacted you first, you can’t assume that your product or solution is a match, so your job is still to find out the truth of their situation,” Galper writes. “If you assume you’re a match just because they called you, you’ll be resistant to finding out the truth about what’s on their mind.”
You must create quality content that your ideal customers actually want, and then make it easy for them to find.
That sounds simple right?
But it’s scary to see how many marketers spend time, effort, and money on producing content that is ‘easy’ for them to make – not what their customers are actually Googling.
Or – the flip side – making amazing content and resources but neglecting to do or measure any SEO whatsoever – so their ideal customers can’t find what they’re offering.
Here’s what not to do:
We’ve worked with a client recently who had produced a very expensive, professionally designed PDF entitled “What we can do for you”. It went into great detail about all the services that the business could provide and it was posted on their website and in their 25+ branches throughout NZ – including on those branches local Facebook pages, twitter accounts and Google +.
They came to us wondering if we could work out whether they had a technical issue with their website that was preventing people from downloading their brochure… They hadn’t yet had any downloads despite spending thousands producing the document.
While we were dearly hoping there might be a technical issue that could easily be fixed, it turned out there wasn’t one – the content was simply not something that anyone, I mean anyone, wanted to download.
It was hard to explain this to the client, but after some uneasy facts were stated and graphs were shown, they were more than happy for us to review their inbound marketing efforts with them and help them plan something for much less cost – that their potential customers actually wanted. And downloaded. By the hundreds.
1. Make something your customers want
2. Make it easy to find
I would also add a point 3. It’s not really exclusive to inbound marketing, but it builds the basis of any marketing or digital activity.
3. Measure, improve, repeat
Your analytics data is absolute GOLD and you need to be set up to make the most of any marketing initiative and to make it measurable. Set up your tags to track campaigns, and traffic coming in through Google Search. Find out who is accessing your inbound content and why, then give them more of what they want. Now you’re doing Inbound!
Do you have an inbound marketing story you’d like to share, or question you’d like to ask? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch.