inbound marketing

InBound Marketing 101


Inbound Marketing Rule #1: Be Interesting

~ Business2Community

Inbound marketing is sharing information and ideas online, attracting an audience who is interested in what you're saying, and then converting that audience into customers. "Inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be." ~ HubSpot

Why do you have a website or Twitter or Facebook account? Because you want potential customers to find you and help grow your business. Traditional outbound marketing focuses on finding new customers through ads, commercials, trade shows, or cold-calling. At any given time millions of people are online searching for information that is relevant and important to them. The key to inbound marketing is to know your niche, and share quality information that attracts people who are interested in what you have to offer. And to keep sharing relevant, informative or entertaining information that keeps them coming back.

How do you attract an audience?

The easiest and most cost-effective inbound marketing tool is social media. Many social media platforms are free to use: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and many blogging platforms. But a social media inbound marketing campaign is an investment:

  • setting up your social accounts and optimizing them for keywords, attractive graphics, and figuring out who to follow
  • managing your social media - creating a content strategy, developing a social media plan, time writing blogs and posts and taking photos or videos, responding to comments or new followers, engaging and building relationships with other people online
  • some blogs require a hosting fee or buying a theme
  • many social platforms now offer ads to target your audience so your message doesn't get lost in the literally millions of online shares every minute of every day

Watch this video infographic by Alchemy Communications on The Power of Inbound Marketing


Once you capture your visitors attention, how do you convert them into leads?

Inbound marketing is about building relationships and establishing yourself as an authority trusted expert and a valued resource. When people start to follow your blog and your Twitter posts, they start to think they know you - even though you've never met IRL (in real life).

Providing an offer that offers value and quality is the best way to convert a fan to a customer:

  • a downloadable back-to-school checklist for a small business serving young kids and families
  • discount or coupon or BOGO for customers at a bakery
  • a free chapter from a new book by a new self-published author
  • free webinar from a trainer or sales rep
  • complimentary consultation by a career coach or consultant

Inbound marketing provides useful information to an online audience that is looking to be educated or entertained, and then providing even more valuable content to convert new fans and followers into real leads and customers.

For More Information on Inbound Marketing
Forbes: How to Convert Leads with Social Media
Small Business Advisor: 26 Stats That Prove Content Marketing Increases Lead Generation, Sales, and ROI




10 Secrets to Creating a Good Inbound Website


Creating a website that leads customers to your business is one of the first steps in creating a good inbound marketing strategy.

Marketers typically spend 90% of their time and budgets on outbound marketing and only 10% on their inbound marketing. There are important differences between outbound and inbound marketing. Outbound Marketing is what people traditionally think of when they consider marketing. In outbound marketing, marketers broadcast a message, and hope it reaches the people it targets, and that they respond to the message. Advertisements, sales calls, and emails are a few examples of outbound marketing. Inbound Marketing is a strategy used by marketers to “be found” by customers, and to bring qualified leads to your business. Inbound marketing tools include websites, blogs, emails and social media.

In today’s world of constant connectivity and social networks, it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to focus their marketing efforts on inbound marketing. The major strategies of inbound marketing are content creation, lifecycle marketing, personalization, multi-channel, and integration (HubSpot).

10 tips for building an inbound website that converts

1. Define your audience: Know who you are selling to and why. Look at the trends and personas of your target market segment. Once you know who you are trying to reach, your website content strategy should flow smoothly.

2. Tell your visitors exactly what you do within the first 30 seconds of landing on your homepage. What your company does will be one of the first questions a potential customer will ask when landing on your website.  They want to know if your company will meet their needs, and they want to know quickly.

3. Use images when producing content: Visual content in content creation is a huge advantage. Try not to use stock photography, use photos of your business, products, and people when possible.

4. Create content that is relevant to not just your business, but to the industry. Having your pulse on industry trends and changes will put your company at an advantage because you will be more adaptable, and it will give your customers a good understanding of who you are.

5. Optimize your website: Keywords and mobile optimization are a priority. Keywords allow your business to be more searchable so your audience can find you, mobile optimization allows your site to be easily found and searched where your audience is: increasingly on smartphones and tablets.

6. Testimonials are important: Customers who have used your product or service and provide a positive testimonial act as fans, endorsers, and promoters. Word-of-mouth is very powerful and effective form of marketing.

7. Build your site for every type of customer: learners, shoppers and buyers. Your customers will be at various stages in their purchase journey and having content for every stage will appeal to more people in your target market.

8. Talk about the why more than the what: show the value of whatever it is that you do. Your value proposition is what sets you apart from your competitors – everyone will be talking about the same product, but only you can differentiate your company from the competition by defining your value proposition. Your business's story is what sets you apart from the competition.

9. Make navigation super simple: Emphasize is on simple website design and navigation. Make sure that important information is easily found, and a potential customer can get the information he or she needs.

10. Create an amazing user experience: Following the first 9 steps will make your website amazing, and stand out among the competition.

Following these 10 inbound marketing tips will put your small business on the path to an inbound marketing that strategy that will attract an audience to your website, generate leads, and convert your leads into customers.

For More Information on Inbound Marketing
IMPACT Branding and Design: What a Great Inbound Marketing Website Looks Like
HubSpot: The 2012 State of Inbound Marketing Practices and Trends
SiliconCloud: Strong Content + Hubspot = Successful Inbound Marketing