What is Inbound Marketing?

Do you love getting interrupted? Cold-calls, unsolicited emails, and advertisements, all trying desperately to get your attention while you’re in the middle of something else that you actually care about.  I didn’t think so. If you’re using these as your primary marketing tactics, how do you think that makes your target customers feel? As anyone who has spent much time cold calling knows, less than thrilled.

How much better are your conversion rates when a visitor found you through a specific organic search or when a lead calls you as a result of a referral?

While there is a time and place for this kind of traditional (outbound) marketing where companies focus on finding customers, inbound marketing is focused on getting found by customers, especially in a manner that is timely and contextually relevant.

Instead of interrupting people with ads, inbound marketers might create videos or infographics that potential customers want to see.  They create their own business blog that people subscribe to and look forward to reading, create whitepapers that establish authority and help capture leads, and guest blog on other relevant sites to generate increased awareness. Instead of cold calling, they create and distribute useful content and tools to engage prospects who ultimately reach out to them for more information.

Instead of pushing a message out in hopes of convincing the audience to become interested, inbound marketing is intended to naturally attract highly qualified customers to the business.

Successful Inbound Marketing campaigns generally incorporate three key components:

  1. Content – Content creation is at the core of inbound marketing. It is the information or tool that attracts potential customers to your site or your business and feeds your overall marketing strategy.
  2. Search Engine Optimization – Search engine optimization makes it easier for potential customers to find your content. It is the practice of building and improving your site and earning inbound links to your site to increase your ranking in search engines, where many of your customers begin their buying process.
  3. Social Media – Social media is a great distribution channel and helps amplify your content. It helps reach people outside of your actual website in places where they may already be, and as your content spreads across social media channels, it inherits greater authenticity.

In the long run, these inbound tactics can be more cost effective than paying for traditional advertising and offer a longer lifespan. With paid advertising an d outbound marketing, when you stop paying for the ads and making calls, the leads stop coming in. When you invest in content, it lives on the internet indefinitely and can continue to get found and produce results long after it’s initially introduced. You’re also reaching people who are more targeted and receptive to your offer, because they would have likely found you as a result of searching for something relevant to your business or have demonstrated interest in your content. Compelling, thought-leadership content also helps pre-qualify the lead before you make contact by establishing trust and authority.

It’s important to note, generating results through inbound marketing is far from quick and easy. If you need immediate traffic or leads, outbound tactics like pay per click can be effective. However, inbound marketing should be an crucial part of your long-term marketing strategy and ultimately can be a very compelling, cost-effective way to grow your business.