With the ongoing economic influx, online marketers are turning to the push-pull of the web to become more efficient. They're using social media, they're publishing targeted and relevant content and they're optimizing it. They're becoming Inbound Marketers - using strategic marketing methods to get customers to come to them.
In traditional marketing (Outbound Marketing) companies focus on finding customers. They use a wide net to target customers such as cold-calling, print advertising, T.V. advertising, direct mail and trade shows. These techniques are expensive and follow a long sales cycle. Technology is making these methods less effective and more expensive - reason simply, customers want control over what and how they are courted.
What you should do to create an Inbound Marketing strategy:
Content - Content is the key to any Inbound Marketing campaign. It is the vehicle that attracts potential customers to your site or your business. More than likely, you have content that already exists in many formats. Take an inventory of content and repurpose or rewrite what is relevant.
Search Engine Optimization - SEO makes it easier for potential customers to find your content. Create inbound links to your site to maximize your ranking in search engines -- this is where most of your customers begin their buying process. Create an ongoing process to organically optimize your web content, PDFs and other content to your site.
Social Media - Social media maximizes the impact of your content. When your content is distributed across and discussed on networks, it becomes more authentic and credible, and is more likely to draw qualified customers to your site. Begin by creating your own blog with several relevant and targeted blog channels. Reply, respond or reciprocate with social networks or other blog channels creating a win-win for all.
What is the ROI of concentrating on Inbound Marketing initiatives:
Costs - Outbound marketing means spending money - either by buying ads, buying e-mail lists or renting huge booths at trade shows. Inbound Marketing means creating content and talking about it. A blog costs very little to start. A Twitter account is free, too. Both can draw thousands of customers to your site.
Lead Generation - Cold-calling, direct mail and e-mail campaigns are typically poorly targeted and do not provide measurable ROI. You're reaching out to individuals because of one or two attributes in a database. When you do Inbound Marketing, you only approach people who self-qualify themselves. They demonstrate an interest in your content, so they are likely to be interested in your product.
Quantifiable Investment - When you buy pay-per-click advertising on search engines, its value is gone as soon as you pay for it. In order to maintain a position at the top of Google's paid results, you have to keep paying. However, if you simultaneously invest that money in pay-per-click and quality content that ranks in Google's organic results, you'll be there until somebody displaces you.
Sources and Excerpts:
Inbound Needs Oubound by Marketing Interactions
Inbound Marketing & the Next Phase of Marketing on the Web by HubSpot Internet Marketing Blog
What is Inbound Marketing? by Business Knowledge Source
[Photo courtesy of michielgaasterland.com]