While it seems that the whole world is turning on its head, marketing is growing through a revolution of its own. Companies are cutting their marketing budgets and looking for new and less expensive ways to promote their products and services.
Tell me something new, I hear you say!
Smart marketers are increasingly using digital channels rather than conventional ways to reach today’s consumers. Gone are the days of interrupting prospective buyers by cold calling or sending expensive direct mail advertising – there is a new way to attract customers and garner leads called inbound marketing.
What is inbound marketing?
Think of inbound marketing as a ‘magnet’, attracting only those customers who are actively searching for a particular service or solution to a problem they have, that you can offer. Inbound marketing is not about pushing ads towards the mass audience and hoping that the right person at the right time will read it. Instead, inbound marketing is about getting found by customers who are seeking information on products or services that they want. Quality information that will help them make an informed and intelligent purchasing decision.
The store front for inbound marketing is the internet. Through highly targeted and relatively inexpensive ways like blogging, search engine optimisation, social media, landing pages and lead nurturing, your business can now reach consumers who actually want your goods or services.
The simple principle driving inbound marketing success
Think about it – you’re online looking for a mid-weight compact camera valued at about $500. You’re looking for the facts: the truth, not flashy advertisements. You want trusted reviews and user comments. If Company X’s online store supplies interactive user feedback and tips for buying a new camera – information that goes a long way to solving your problem – isn’t it safe to say you now represent a ‘warm’ lead to them?
They have earned your trust and the chance of you purchasing from them is much higher. And the chance of you giving them your email and name is also greater – right?
The bottom line for a business is the need to find a qualified sales lead. The beauty of inbound marketing is that in most cases, people who are attracted by this ‘magnet’ strategy have reached out to Google to discover more about something they are interested in at that very moment. These are qualified buyers, ready to buy.
Here are six ways that inbound marketing tactics can help those qualified buyers.
1) A blog
Think of blogs as powerful marketing engines – because they are constantly updated with new content, Google sees them as jungle juice! By having a business blog linked to your website you are adding greatly to your SEO efforts. Blog information and articles about your products and services that are back-linked to your company’s website and vice versa are given a big tick by Google.
The key here is to create and distribute great content that your customers (or potential customers) will value. The correct strategy will generate qualified sales leads and motivate people to buy.
2) Search engine optimization (SEO)
Increasingly, consumers who are ready to buy are searching out information on the world wide web. They usually type a keyword or phrase into a search engine. If your article, blog or company website is written skillfully and uses keywords, qualified buyers are more likely to find you when they search.
3) Social media
To leverage social media, your content must be distributed through the appropriate channels. The potential for attracting qualified buyers using social media is enormous.
- As of June 2011 Facebook had 750 million users.
- People 65 or older who use social media grew 100 per cent in 2010.
- Twitter has been handling in excess of a billion tweets per month since December 2009.
For those who develop a killer online strategy and create powerful content the future looks bright.
4) Landing pages
A well planned inbound marketing strategy will employ a landing page (usually a single web page) that potential customers are driven to. Landing pages are often reached after someone reads about a product or service in the social media. The purpose of the landing page is to capture customer information and generate qualified sales leads.
5) Lead nurturing
All of the above methods can entice consumers to leave their email and names, etc. for you to gently continue to nurture and market to. These potential consumers are now qualified sales leads. Remember, the key to success is content – powerful, unique, and persuasive content.
6) Finally – use email smartly!
Email is the best way to keep in touch with your new leads and retain existing business-to-business customers. Establish an email strategy that provides for constant communications with prospects and remember not to get pushy. Used correctly, ongoing emails can save you time and money, and generate great results.
Got a question about inbound marketing? Then just get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.
About the author
Peter has a ridiculous amount of marketing and communications experience. He is an inbound marketing advocate and a new media enthusiast with a passion for spreading his knowledge and blogging. Above all he is the driving force behind Creative Brew and a proud dad.