Inbound marketing is all about getting the right customers to come to you. Instead of traditional marketing methods (TV, radio, print, out-of-home, etc) where companies are trying to insert their product and messaging into consumers lives by interrupting their routine, inbound marketing is about incorporating your brand into their lives. Consumers are no longer passive recipients to marketing messages. The Internet has allowed everyone to become a publisher in some capacity. Social networking sites and blogs let consumers rant or rave about whatever they want, online communities have sprung up for every possible niche and companies no longer have sole control over their brand. Inbound marketing strives to match this new consumer audience and their needs with your brand and products. It puts the consumer in charge, yet allows the company to retain some measure of control.
Here are the 3 components of inbound marketing and how you can make them work for you:
Search engine optimization (SEO) is about making changes to your website to make it more search engine friendly. The better your site is optimized for specific keywords, the better you will rank for those searches and the more targeted traffic will be delivered to your site. SEO helps position your site in front of the eyes of people who are already searching for your company, product, services and more. Long-tail keywords have a smaller search volume than broad keywords (payroll services management software vs. software) but they also have a much more targeted user behind them. The more targeted a visitor, the better chance you have of conversion.
To make SEO work for you, you first need to fully optimize your site. This means conducting page-by-page keyword research and working the more relevant keywords (for each individual page!) into your site content. The second part of SEO is link building, which is designed to build up the amount of quality, one-way links that point towards your site. The more quality links your site has leading to it, the better trust factor it has with the search engines and the better it will rank. Each link is a pathway to your site, allowing traffic to flow from one related site to the next until they come to yours.
No matter how fantastic your products and services are, no one will ever know about your company if they cant find you in the search engines. Without an online presence, you are essentially invisible to your audience. That is where SEO comes in.
Social networking sites are the great equalizers of the Internet. Every consumer has an opinion and social media lets them express it like never before. Social networking also allows you to reach out to your target audience in a way unlike any other " one-to-one. Social networking communities are a great place to foster brand loyalty and create brand advocates. If a consumer Likes your brand on Facebook or follows you on Twitter, they are inviting you into their online life. Having that kind of permission to share content and messages with your target audiences is a very powerful thing.
The hardest part of social media marketing is to know when to connect with your consumers and at what frequency. Too many updates from your company on their Facebook wall and they start to feel like you are spamming them. Too little engagement and you give them no reason to come back and stay connected. Each social network has a unique platform and audience, and each one expects to be used/treated differently. Much like SEO, social media is not a set-it-and-forget it kind of marketing tactic. As social media matures, more and more companies are realizing that is takes real time and dedication to get the most value out of social networking.
To make social media marketing work for you, you have to determine what the best strategy is for your company and your audience. Social media marketing doesnt work by copying the competition. You have to develop your own voice with your own goals and create real relationships with your consumers.
Content marketing is all about education, not selling. The goal of a good content marketing strategy is to position your company as an expert and industry leader. This builds consumer trust and helps position your company as a valuable resource. Content can be anything; website content, articles, whitepapers, infographics, videos, blog posts and more. The more relevant, useful and engaging the content is, the more beneficial it is for your consumers and for you.
For instance, if you run a mens clothing boutique, you could create a series of How To videos teaching viewers how to create various tie knots. You arent trying to sell them one of your ties; you are trying to answer their question about how to tie a tie. You want your company to be the first thing they think of when they need to learn how to make the perfect Windsor knot.
To make content marketing work for you, you have to be prepared to push out a steady stream of great content. Generic, bland and uninformative content will never take you far. Sometimes you feel as if you have nothing to say, but you have to keep at it. Take a step back and ask yourself, If I knew absolutely nothing about my industry, what would I want to learn about? You have to put yourself in your audiences shoes and give them the content and information they crave.
In a sense, inbound marketing is much like integrated marketing. You have to connect various marketing methods and channels together to develop a stronger online presence and more powerful brand. Inbound marketing sets your site up to be a central hub for your target audience, with thousands of ways for them to find you.