January 31

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound Marketing MagnetGetting found online is one of the biggest challenges most businesses face today.  Business owners would be wise to ask themselves, “If my website fell in a forest, would anybody hear it?”  If your website is basically an online brochure that hasn’t been updated in a while, the answer is probably “No”.

We call it the web for a reason – interconnectedness.  Building connections, links and relationships is important online.  So how do you do that?

I am a proponent of using an Inbound Marketing strategy that focuses on being found by creating interesting, valuable and shareable content.  Content that attracts visitors to seek you out at the moment that they are describing their problem or looking for a solution.

Every piece of content you create can be optimized for search and promoted through online channels such as social media and online press releases.  The more interesting and valuable it is, the more people are likely to share it with their friends and subscribers.

Create, Optimize, and Promote – these are the fundamental concepts of an Inbound Marketing strategy.  Create content everywhere you can on the web – not just your website.  If fact, you want to create guideposts (provide links) all across the web to help people find your website.  How do you do this?  Ask yourself:

  • Where is your target audience already spending time on the web?
  • Where do they go to find out about the types of problems you solve, or the solutions you offer?

Thinking about these questions, as well as describing and defining your brand, helps you determine where to focus your content efforts.

Okay, so you get the need for content.  But how in the world are you going to come up with all of this content to optimize and promote across the interweb?  Chances are you are already creating and sharing a lot of content with your clients and business partners.  Demonstrating how something works?  Turn that into a video that can be found on the web.  Sending out an email newsletter?  Turn that into blog posts.  Talking with a customer about how to diagnose a problem?  Share that on Facebook.

The only way the search engines are going to be able to find this content is if you put it on the web and you optimize it to be found (it is competitive out there!).  You can do things to help the search engines find your content and optimize it for search.  And if your content is interesting and valuable, it will be shared using the interconnectedness of the web.

Social Media and Online Public Relations have become great ways to help share and promote this content across the web.  Both of these engage the community to help you share and promote the content beyond the relationships and connections that you already have, in ways faster and with more amplification than many traditional marketing methods.

Two more key components to building an effective web presence are Convert and Analyze.  Getting qualified visitors to your website is only half the battle.  Turning visitors to your website into leads, and leads into customers is really where the rubber meets the road and delivers that return on investment.  Moving visitors through the sales cycle is all about Know, Like, and Trust.  Content really helps here, but you also need to think about how to get visitors to take action, to engage with you online.  Don’t forget about a conversion strategy.

Last but certainly not least, it is very important to analyze and measure everything.  One of the things that I love about the web is that it is very accountable if you set it up to be.   You can see how many visitors viewed a web page or a blog post.  You can see which pages of your website people visit the most, and how many of them signed up for your e-newsletter or downloaded your free white paper.  You can see how many people liked or commented on a post you did to your Facebook wall, or how many times someone re-tweeted a link you shared on Twitter.

Measuring what’s going on and using this to realign your investments and improve your results, often yields dramatic results.  But it takes commitment and persistence.  And it doesn’t just happen.

Inbound Marketing is an investment that keeps working for you as long as you have your website do it properly.  It often results in a lower cost per lead than traditional marketing methods, or can strengthen and compliment traditional marketing.  You can only be one place at a time.  Done properly, Inbound Marketing duplicates the most value assets of your business.


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