Inbound Marketing is the most efficient and economic way of reaching your clients. It’s the best way to build up a profitable Online Business in the long-term.
Although the internet has only been around for a relatively short time, since its inception strategies for promoting and marketing websites have been constantly changing and evolving.
Probably the most important change of all was when the concept of Inbound Marketing was conceived.
The term ‘Inbound Marketing’ was coined in 2005 by Marketing expert Brian Halligan and describes a radical change to the way in which marketing flows.
Traditionally, the flow of the various marketing techniques has been directed from the company towards potential clients, interrupting their daily life. Inbound Marketing is a different concept: now potential clients are attracted to your company, by finding online solutions to their problems and needs.
What is Inbound Marketing?
For decades we have used marketing techniques that we have inherited from our parents and grandparents:
- Advertisements in magazines,
- Radio and television ads,
- Postal promotional mailings, brochures, catalogues,
- Public Relations
All of these efforts in terms of time and money were oriented from your company’s point of view, using a shotgun-blast technique towards your potential customers, in an ever more desperate attempt to capture their attention and transform them into clients.
With the advent of the Internet it seemed as though these techniques were changing.
In reality, the same techniques as before were just applied, but in a digital way.
Businesses continued with the same strategy as before, but with different “ammunition”:
- Massive promotional emails,
- Advertising on online directories,
- Paid online banners
- Pay-per-click advertising
- Paid search engines views.
This technique is known as Outbound Marketing – in other words, marketing that comes from the company, aimed at any and all potential clients.
It is also known as ‘Interruption Marketing’
Currently these techniques are becoming ever less effective for one main reason: People (including this writer) have become saturated with constant invasions and ‘interruptions’ to their everyday life.
So what are potential clients starting to do in reaction? Blocking or ignoring ads more and more – they are treated largely as background noise, to be ignored.
People are looking more and more to the Internet not only to fulfill their needs in terms of entertainment and education – but also solutions to both business and personal needs.
It was from this that Inbound Marketing emerged.
Its concept is to alter the direction of the flow of marketing techniques. When the potential client searches for a solution to their problem or need, the business simply needs to help them locate us.
The company no longer needs to make constant efforts to attract the attention of its potential customers, interrupting their daily life – they simply need to be present where anyone looks for the solution to a problem or need.
Outbound Marketing or Outgoing Marketing
- Telemarketing, postal mail, trade sales, mass email blasts, advertisements in magazines, television and radio commercials.
- Your company looking outwardly to capture the attention of potential clients.
- Grabbing people’s attention and telling them how you can solve their needs – whether they have those needs or not.
Inbound Marketing or Incoming marketing
- Internet search engines (principally Google), the ‘Blogosphere’ and social Networks.
- Potential clients searching for your company.
- People already have the need – the business just needs to be there when they look for a solution.
Let’s consider a simple example:
You plan to go on vacation with your family to Miami.
Not knowing anything about Miami, you search in Google, and find many articles and hotels, but one of them specifically mentions family holidays.
They also mention their hotel as being ‘Family-friendly’.
On their website they have a Blog post entitled ‘The Top 10 Family Activities in Miami’.
If you enter your email address they will send you an E-Book of the article to print and study.
There is a comments field and a Contact form where you can ask questions, and you ask if the hotel can provide a crib for a small baby. They respond quickly to your query, saying that they can.
Most people will carry out multiple searches and queries when looking for solutions. But this business has risen right to the top of your options by responding to the exact needs you were looking for, and the visitor has much less incentive to keep searching for other options. They have quickly built a sense of loyalty and trust with you.
What has just taken place is Inbound Marketing.
You found the article on Google, you were drawn to the hotel’s website, and what they offered you convinced you to stay there.
What are the techniques of Inbound Marketing?
We have analyzed the change in the direction of flow of marketing with respect to Inbound Marketing as opposed to Outbound Marketing.
But what are these techniques?
Inbound Marketing techniques meet certain main characteristics:
- Searches are made mainly via the Internet.
- Most techniques are free to implement, but they require considerable time and effort.
- They attract high-converting traffic.
Visitors who come to us through these techniques have a much greater predisposition to buy than a regular visitor.
Inbound Marketing has the following main techniques:
- Identifying your Ideal Client
Carrying out a deep analysis of who your Ideal Client is and what solutions they might be searching for online.
One business might have several Ideal Client profiles, and a different Inbound Marketing Strategy needs to be carried out for each Profile.
- Content Marketing
Creating articles and information orientated to the solution of specific problems, doubts or needs of your Ideal Clients.
– Blog Articles
– Industry Studies & ResearchOnce created and published and posted, Content Marketing is an essential way to boost the audience of your content, and is achieved by sharing regularly on your own Social Media channels, and also contacting other websites or publishers of similar subjects to ask if they would like to share your content. This can be of benefit to both parties if the fit is good.
Ideally another website would create a link from their site back to your content, which helps to raise your search engine rankings and domain authority.
Content Marketing takes time and effort, but the efforts really pay off!
- Search Engine Optimization
Optimizing these articles to rank as highly as possible in Google, as well as the various sections of your website. This is done by On-page optimization and Keyword Research to discover exactly what words and phrases people are searching for
- Email Marketing
Capturing a visitor’s email address opens up a world of possibilities, allowing you to develop a large database of clients and potential clients.
This is achieved by using forms such as a Blog subscription form, or offering some free additional ‘Premium’ content in exchange for an email address.
The idea is that the visitor will willingly exchange their email address for this extra content, as you have won their trust and they are interested in your products and services.
Once you have a database of actual and potential clients, you can segment them according to their needs and start to send them targeted content by email – thereby increasing their loyalty and interest, and encouraging them to buy your products or services when they are ready to make a purchase.
- Social Media
Interact with clients and potential clients through various social networks. Currently the most popular are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Linkedin. Your company’s social networks should be a place for people to turn to when they are looking for solutions to their needs, or at least simply to engage with the great content you provide – making a win-win for everyone.
This builds trust, loyalty and makes it more likely for a casual visitor to convert into a customer.
- Word of Mouth
Help other people for free, and they will help you. Generate word-of-mouth publicity by creating articles, sharing experiences, helping solve problems, and sharing knowledge. This will always bring in rewards.
Webinars are online courses, and an immense source of future clients. Create and publicise online courses about your products or services. Share your best-kept professional secrets and your Webinars will quickly attract attendees.
Worried because your competition will find out those secrets? It doesn’t matter! Most of them are probably on the internet anyway if someone looks for them.
Sharing builds trust and loyalty.
Don’t keep secrets! Share your knowledge liberally, just as we do in FJ Solutions with these articles.
Everybody likes Infographics.
They are simple, easy to read, and give clear information. Infographic are simply graphics where a certain topic or problem is displayed in a graphic way.
- Public Relations
Public relations are like the real-world version of Facebook. Socialize with friends, acquaintances, colleagues. Share information and try to help as many people as possible. Inbound Marketing will reward you either with real clients, or referrals.
- Questions and answers websites
There are many web sites dedicated to questions and answers, where potential clients leave their questions or problems about their current products or services.
You just have to be there to answer them. This will grant you new visitors and contacts.
The ones I like best are Yahoo! Answers y Quora.
Enter the most important forums in your field and begin to interact with colleagues and potential clients. Comment, participate, answer and also ask questions.
As we mentioned: Inbound Marketing is free, but requires a lot of dedication and time!
What are the benefits of Inbound Marketing?
Inbound Marketing brings great benefits for your company, both in attracting new clients and also in reducing the cost of attaining them.
- It does not require a large budget
Although it takes time and dedication, Inbound Marketing does not require large amounts of money. It simply requires ideas and the time to implement them.
- More efficient
Traditional marketing becomes less efficient day by day due to the constant invasion of the life of potential clients.
Many of these people are not even looking for the solutions we can offer.
Inbound Marketing, on the other hand, not only does not invade people’s lives, and it produces a higher Conversion Rate, since the visitors we attract were actually looking for the exact solutions we are offering to provide.
- Assets, not costs
When you create useful content focused on your Ideal Clients, you are creating an asset.
Because the solution you create (in the form of content a video, a presentation, an article on your blog) will be forever circulating and “working” on the Internet, over months and years.
If you make an advertisement on a radio or television program for example – how long does the advertisement work for? The time that you invest in creating Inbound Marketing solutions is not just used once and then discarded, but remains in continuous operation.
If you consider that Inbound Marketing requires little capital investment, is more efficient and what you create is always working online to attract us potential clients interested in our solutions … What are you waiting for to change from traditional Outbound Marketing to Inbound Marketing?
How to start implementing Inbound Marketing for your website?
The first thing you need to do is identify your Ideal Client.
By creating the Profile of your Ideal Client, you will be analysing their needs, doubts and problems, as well as working out where they are looking for solutions on the Internet.
- What solutions are they looking for online?
- What is their demographic (age/sex/location)?
- How can we offer solutions that are better than the competition’s ?
- What Browser do they use?
- Are they active on Social Media?
- What type of Social Media do they use?
Once you are aware of what your Ideal Clients need, and how and where they are seeking solutions, it’s time to think about your Content Generation Strategy.
Apply the various Inbound Marketing techniques previously detailed.
Don’t spend time targeting places online where your Ideal Clients do not hang out online – start with the places they frequent the most.
As your business gains more clients, and the increase in revenue allows you to hire more staff, you’ll begin to have more time to build out your strategy.
At first you sought out the places where you knew your Ideal Clients were. In this new stage you can start to experiment with the techniques of Inbound Marketing and test new waters.
You might discover a new source of revenue, and start to adjust your products and services to meet newly-discovered needs.
Discovering a new Ideal Client can be more profitable than you could ever have imagined!
Consider the ideas and techniques we’ve outlined here about Inbound Marketing, and think about the time and resources you may currently be spending on Outbound Marketing, and what results you have obtained. Think carefully.