Understanding Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is a relatively new way of thinking of marketing that many small and medium sized businesses are just starting to embrace. It requires more work, but is less expensive than traditional marketing and can get significantly better results.

Inbound marketing grew in popularity as online marketing started to take hold. An alternative to traditional advertising, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that will guide potential customers from your blog, social media websites, search engines or other online resources to your website.

Creating Content that Appeals to Your Future Customers

Undoubtedly, the hardest part of inbound marketing is figuring out what your content should be about. You need to understand what interests your customers, while also aligning the content to fit your company?s attributes and goals. Focus on content that will earn interest from a potential customer, and in turn will encourage them to view you as a valuable resource.

Search engine optimization tends to go hand-in-hand with inbound marketing?the more relevant the content is on your site, the higher you rank on search engines like Google. The higher you rank, the more people you will get coming to your website.

Inbound marketing will deliver more people to your website, but for it to be truly effective your website needs to be structured in such a way that encourages engagement and develops leads and conversions.

Four Aspects of Inbound Marketing

There are four basic guiding principles when it comes to inbound marketing?attract, convert, close and delight. Develop a content strategy and identify what your customers are searching for, and use those phrases and keywords in your content to improve your search engine rankings.

Then, once potential customers are on your website, gather information from them. This can be done several different ways. Include a call to action to sign-up for your newsletter, gate keep some of your more valuable content, and include forms potential customers can easily fill out to receive more information.

Your lead conversion rate will be impacted by the value of your content. Inbound marketing allows you to effectively target specific audiences based on the content they view on your website, contributing to higher lead conversion rates. You know more about your potential customer, and can create specific workflows to meet their needs.

Understanding that those who visit your website are at various stages of the buying process is a crucial component you must address in your content marketing strategy. If a customer is interested in learning more about a specific part of your business, offer the ability to sign up on your blog to receive more information about that particular topic.A carefully structured series of emails that addresses both the information your customer is seeking as well as how your business can help them achieve their goals may convert this lead to a paying customer.

Inbound marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

While it may seem like a complicated process, inbound marketing can encourage more quality leads at a lower cost that traditional outbound marketing. Outbound marketing?traditional advertising mediums like television, radio, newspapers, direct mailings or cold callings?is more expensive and less effective than good inbound marketing.

While traditional advertising mediums provide you the ability to communicate your products or services offered to a large audience, many of these people who receive your message are not interested or in need of your company. And because we are all inundated with advertising messages every day, potential customers who are interested may not remember your name after a few hours of hearing or seeing your message, and you have no way to retarget your message to these people.

Inbound marketing is permission based and focuses on reaching a much more targeted audience. Your message is well received, and because you are focusing on a smaller, more engaged audience your efforts have a much higher return on investment.

How to Start Inbound Marketing

If inbound marketing sounds like something you would like to implement, taking a few moments before you begin to identify your customers, your goals, and what your competitors are doing can be very beneficial. Identify areas you would like to target and develop a content strategy. Don?t be afraid to try a little trial and error to help determine what works best for you. All the upfront effort will pay dividends once traffic begins flowing to your website and you gain new customers.