WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT INBOUND MARKETING… AND WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
What is Inbound Marketing?
For many companies, “inbound marketing” is the best way to build the brand and generate sales. Inbound, as the name implies, invites potential customers to come into the company’s sphere of influence. Outbound marketing, on the other hand, takes marketing out to the consumer, with online and print advertisements, direct mail and so on.
Inbound marketing relies heavily on original, informative and engaging content and people’s natural desire to share interesting information with their communities.
For example, let’s say a family is looking for information about what to do in New York City. They might search for “NYC Tourist Attractions.” At the top of the search results they find a New York hotel that provides a wealth of information. The potential customer has arrived at the company’s website through inbound marketing.
Agile Content Marketing – a Popular Form of Inbound Marketing
Agile Content Marketing, a form of inbound marketing, not only relies on good content, but pays close attention to feedback. The feedback is used to further refine content, to make it more valuable to their target audience.
Continuing with the hotel example. Let’s say the family reads three articles on the website. #1 they share with friends, using sharing buttons on the page. #2 they share, and also leave a positive comment. And #3 they do nothing. If this mirrors similar feedback from site visitors, the hotel might choose to produce more content like #2 and less like #3.
This is a good strategy, because the more often site visitors share content, the more new people are likely to visit the site and engage with the company.
How Does Inbound Marketing Generate Sales?
The ultimate goal of inbound marketing is sales. The intermediate goal is to generate qualified leads. What makes a lead “qualified”? Anyone who visits a website and volunteers their contact information is considered qualified. Why? Because they have expressed a high degree of interest in the company and a willingness to be marketed to.
Some sales come from first time visitors to a site, but in many cases visitors aren’t ready to make a purchase immediately. Capturing contact information and marketing to these leads results in a high rate of conversion. (The term “conversion” refers to converting potential customers into customers and customers into repeat customers).
For example, the conversion rate for email marketing to these leads is over 4%, which is excellent. That compares to about 2.5% for people who find the company through an online search, and about .5% for those who hear about the company through social media.
Creating an Inbound Marketing Plan
Successful inbound marketing starts with a solid plan, which lays out the strategy for marketing through multiple channels (website, social media, etc.). It includes an editorial calendar for the creation and deployment of content and a schedule for following up with leads.
Because inbound marketers like to have a strong organic (unpaid) presence in search engine results, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is part of the plan as well.
Inbound marketing, also known as content marketing, is a highly effective way to build a loyal audience, attract people who trusts the company to provide them with valuable and accurate information on topics they care about. The percentage of this audience that goes on to become customers and repeat customers is strong, making inbound a cost-effective approach to marketing.