I don’t claim to be an Inbound Marketing expert. How could I be? For one, I’m still an intern here at Revenue River (at the time of writing, I'm a full-timer now!) and two; I’ve only had about half a year to really immerse myself in all there is to know about this new marketing method. That being said, I have spent countless hours researching the tactics and inbound strategies used and have developed a quite comfortable outline of what inbound marketing really is. So if you’re like many of my friends that display a confused look when hearing marketing prefaced with the word inbound, let me fill you in by sharing my brief summary of what inbound marketing really is.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Hubspot likes to sort all marketing efforts into two categories, Inbound and Outbound.
Outbound Marketing is comprised of what I like to think of as traditional marketing methods including print, radio, and television advertising, among others. Before the internet, these methods were the best way of reaching customers and creating leads. Audiences had no other option than to sit and listen to commercials or look at advertisements around them and in their media. New technologies have changed all of this, and have effectively started Traditional or Outbound Marketing’s decline. DVR’s are allowing television viewers to fast forward through commercials, smart phones and MP3 players have nearly whiped out traditional radio, satellite radio provides commercial free listening while blog and other media sites have all but killed the newspaper industry. This is where inbound marketing comes in.
Inbound marketing utilizes a “pull” tactic rather than “push” when it comes to generating leads. In essence, inbound marketing targets and nurtures the people who are already interested in and researching your industry (pulling them in) instead of pushing your company out into the general public hoping you’ll reach your audience. Inbound tactics pull potential leads through what we call a sales funnel, which is just a visual representation of the steps a potential lead or customer goes through during their buying process. So to sum it up for you, and I may be slightly over-generalizing here, inbound marketing targets already-engaged customers online and brings them through the sales funnel in order to create new leads and customers for your business. This is done through the execution of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Blogging, and Social media.
Search engine optimization is the process of tailoring your website and its content to specific guidelines set by search engines (such as Google, Bing and Yahoo) in order to make your company and its site more easily found in online searches. By placing specific sets of keywords for your industry throughout your website and content, SEO makes it so your company shows up closer to the top of the search engine’s page when someone searches for something that includes your keywords. The goal of this is to get your website as high as possible on the search engines’ rankings for your chosen keywords so that when someone searches for anything containing those keywords, you will be the first option they see, leading to higher Click Through Rates which will hopefully lead to greater lead generation.
To many, the idea of blogging is nothing new. A web log, or blog as we all know it, is an online source of articles focusing on a certain industry or topic. Many businesses utilize blogs to update their customers and clients, inform the public about specific items (that’s what this article is doing) or to just blow off some steam with some sort of creative writing. The blogging process for inbound marketing is a little different than what you may be used to, though. First, a business writes some sort of interesting content that consumers will want to read. Then, they optimize it by inserting keywords throughout the piece. Finally, they publish the finished article to their site and distribute it throughout their social media channels and emailing lists. The end goal here is to create content that is not only interesting but also helpful to the reader so that they will begin to search for more information from your company, thus moving them further down the sales funnel.
Ask any marketer today and they will tell you that social media sites have changed the way the game is played. If you don’t believe me, spend some time watching traditional television commercials and I guarantee that you’ll see some sort of call to action regarding liking a business’ Facebook page or following them on Twitter. Why has nearly every business gone through the hassle of creating a social media presence? Because they realize that everyone and their mom is on Facebook and Twitter now in days and they couldn’t pass up a FREE opportunity to update, inform and interact with their customers and fans! Inbound marketing utilizes social media sites in just that way, by creating an ever-growing following and updating them on day to day happenings. Here they can inform these followers about new events, promotions and topics as well as interact with them on a personal, one-to-one level that only further creates lasting relationships and bonds with customers. Updating and informing is a key part of social media’s presence inside Inbound Marketing, as sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other are used as distribution sites for valuable blog articles, landing pages, and other information leading back to the company’s website in the hopes of attaining the main goal of creating new leads!
Well there’s my very short, very general overview of what inbound marketing is for you. So the next time you’re at a bar, looking to impress someone from the opposite sex, just think back to this article and then think of something else to talk about, because the sad truth is, there aren’t nearly as many people out there like us that find inbound marketing absolutely fascinating.