We live in a world of information abundance and attention scarcity – and the pace of information creation is accelerating. According to IBM, we now create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.
Buyers today are more empowered. The web provides them with instant information gratification. They can access detailed specs, pricing, and reviews about goods and services 24/7 with a few flicks of their thumbs. Meanwhile, social media encourages them to share and compare, while mobile devices add a wherever/whenever dimension to every aspect of the experience.
In our fast-paced society where the Internet and social networking shape our daily decisions, customers are exposed to more information than ever. This phenomenon is not only making them more educated, but also is causing a change in buying behaviors. Today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their decision making process before they engage with a sales representative or business. As a result, Business-to-Business and Business-to-Consumer marketing efforts must be adjusted to respond to this shift.
Outbound versus Inbound Marketing
In contrast to outbound marketing, where businesses attempt to find customers, inbound marketing earns the attention of targeted customers who are searching for them and helps the company get found easier. Inbound marketing is a skilled technique utilizing many forms of online tools – content creation, blogs, events, search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media and more – to create brand awareness and attract new business.
Today more and more businesses are realizing that traditional outbound efforts like television, radio, print advertising, direct mail, and billboards alone are not enough to produce profits as they once were. Consumers find them to be distracting so these methods are becoming less and less effective.
When What You’ve Been Doing Isn’t Working Anymore
To replace outdated and distracting marketing tactics, inbound marketing techniques are being utilized to attract more leads and foster better brand preference. To be successful with inbound marketing, businesses need to introduce a more disciplined approach to content creation, introduce marketing automation tools that can help them nurture and score leads, and optimize how these leads flow through the sales pipeline.
In short, inbound marketing attracts customers to you so you are not chasing them down. It helps prospects find your company in the early stages of their decision-making process, leading to a stronger influence on their future buying decisions.
With proper planning, inbound marketing offers numerous benefits. When utilized effectively, it can:
- Shape a brand preference and influence future purchases.
- Generate social media shares and inbound links.
- Put customers in the driver’s seat.
- Help fuel search engine optimization efforts.
- Increase brand awareness.
- Enable customers to engage with your brand at their point of need, 24/7.
- Generate qualified leads for less money (when compared with traditional marketing
I Have A Facebook Business Page…Now What?
No single inbound marketing tactic works well on its own and can’t be segmented into separate categories, with each section holding independent power. For example, while we rely on SEO to draw in visitors from organic search, that SEO doesn’t work if there’s no content. Without social media, blogs don’t reach new, interested people. And SEO, content, and social media are all completely useless without a strategic lead generation process in place.
Inbound marketing efforts are built over time and by measuring progress. An effective inbound marketing strategy incorporates all or parts of the following elements:
Search engine optimization is an integral part of effective inbound marketing. Using effective keyword analysis, well-structured website design and other SEO “best practices” to launch your company to the top of search results will ensure that your content is being seen by the right audience and bring in the right leads.
By far the most common form of inbound marketing, blogging can play a powerful role in driving traffic and nurturing leads.
With 67% of online adults using social media to share information, you can’t afford to neglect widely popular online communities such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and more.
Live Events and Webinars
Take inbound marketing to the next level with online webinars and live events.
And Much More
Videos, whitepapers, eBooks, enewsletters, public speaking… Any opportunity to share valuable content is an opportunity to practice inbound marketing.
Put Your Thinking Cap On Before Pulling Out Your Wallet
Creating killer content is more about brains and commitment rather than budget. Don’t throw money at it – put your head and heart into it! When it comes to inbound marketing, the more you invest, the greater your return.
Here’s how to get started:
- Identify your target audience and learn all you can about them. You can’t write content to inform your customers until you know what makes your audience tick.
- Determine your unique, compelling story. Why should your audience listen to you?
- Choose your delivery platforms. Will you blog? Tweet? Use Facebook? Pinterest?
- Create and execute your content calendar.
A Little Planning Goes A Long Way
It is very important to create a schedule that will consistently turn out fresh and relevant content to continue to engage your audience. Keep in mind that your theme should be focused on customer issues, not on your business.
Rather than focusing on ‘enough’ content, you should be focused on publishing quality content. Content that educates your audience and builds brands and authority. The right content will be shared, increasing your reach, increasing awareness, increasing trust and increasing leads. The wrong content will lose followers and damage your reputation.
Don’t forget to set aside time for analysis on a weekly basis. This step will aid you in understanding how effective your inbound marketing efforts have been and how they can be improved.
Inbound marketing cannot be relied on as the sole means of generating business. To achieve a more balanced approach, combine inbound efforts with outbound activities such as lead nurturing, lead scoring and other components of marketing automation.
Marketing automation empowers inbound marketers with tools and strategies to convert fans and followers to leads and customers. Automation accomplishes this by cultivating relationships with leads which are not yet ready to buy (most often via targeted email campaigns). Automation also enhances your inbound efforts by helping you separate legitimate leads from the not-so-legitimate ones. Furthermore, connecting marketing automation to your customer relationship management (CRM) system makes certain none of your leads get lost in the shuffle.
Inbound Marketing is A Skilled Technique
When measuring the success of your inbound marketing efforts, there are a plethora of metrics to choose from. Whether you decide to look at SEO rankings, inbound links or number of articles published, you’re sure to derive some insight into how your campaigns are performing.
However, don’t get caught up in basing your decisions on marketing activities alone. For instance, having 5,000 followers on Twitter might sound impressive, but this number doesn’t offer too much insight in terms of real business results. Instead, you should be looking to financial metrics that show how marketing helps your company generate more profits and faster growth when stacked against your competitors.
Just like all businesses are different, no two inbound marketing strategies are the same. If you are ready to get started working on an inbound marketing plan to suit your business needs, contact a leading Inbound Marketing Strategist, Nancy Bradley via email at email@example.com.