Thanks to the Internet, your ideal customers are looking for you and researching your products online. So how do you get their attention over the competition? Inbound marketing, of course. While you can use traditional marketing and advertising to find customers, the new style of marketing online is more efficient, more cost-effective, and customers actually like it.
So what is inbound marketing?
Definition of Inbound Marketing
The term was coined in 2005 by the CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, a leading internet marketing company that advocates earning a lead’s interest over buying or begging it. Wikipedia defines it as “the concept of earning the attention of prospects, making yourself easy to be found, and drawing customers to your website by producing content customers value.” Instead of you trying to find customers, inbound marketing helps your customers find you. According to HubSpot, there are three ways to earn your prospects’ attention and help them find you: 1. Creating genuinely useful content 2. Optimizing your website for search engines 3. Sharing your content and message on social media Using these three avenues makes your business a thought leader and an expert in your field, so your ideal customers come to you when they need information or a solution. Inbound marketing helps prospects find you when they’re already looking for you, so you get more qualified leads. What’s not to love about that?
Inbound vs Outbound Marketing
There are several definite advantages of inbound marketing over more traditional marketing methods, called outbound marketing. Outbound tactics attempt to pound messages like “choose us” and “buy now” into prospective customers’ minds through ads that interrupt, like banner ads, direct mail, and cold calls. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, acts more like a magnet, inviting and enticing prospects without pushing a sale. It works because prospects learn to trust you, so when they’re ready to buy, they choose you.
This post on HubSpot explains why inbound marketing is so effective, and lists some of the major benefits of using the new model. And if you still need convincing, this infographic shows how much more powerful inbound marketing can be over outbound techniques.
Is Inbound Marketing Right for You?
HubSpot would probably argue that attracting customers instead of wasting time and money hunting them down would be right for everyone. But since content creation and engagement are huge parts of this marketing model, it might not work for every business. This model of marketing is especially effective for small businesses (because it levels the playing field with big-budget brands) and businesses with long research cycles or knowledge-based products (because it helps customers inform themselves and demonstrates your expertise). If you can answer “Yes” to the following questions, consider giving inbound and content marketing methods a shot:
- Do you have the knowledge and expertise to create content that could genuinely help your customers?
- Do you have the time and resources to create that content?
- Can you or your team tell engaging, compelling stories about your brand and your solution?
- Do you have the resources to manage several content and social platforms?
- Do you have the time to engage with prospects on a blog and social media?
If you don’t have all those components in-house yet, you might consider outsourcing your blog content or social media management to take advantage of inbound marketing.
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