If you haven’t noticed, this is the decade of inbound marketing. It’s been going on for a while, but a lot of people still haven’t noticed. It’s time to wake up and realize what’s going on.
Inbound marketing is the name for the marketing methods we use in order to get customers to find us, instead of the other way around (outbound marketing). We market by creating relationships and by publishing awesome content (that’s why this is also known as content marketing).
The point is that many of us have stopped using regular paid advertisements as the source for new customers. We’re spending time and money on quality content instead.
Why we should use inbound marketing
First of all, inbound marketing is a lot more fun and it’s about sharing knowledge and experience. As customers, we have the power to chose, and we chose based upon knowledge and experience. Customers are a lot more active, they’re looking for solutions to their problems, and that’s how they usually find us.
They’re already looking for knowledge, and creative solutions.
There are three reasons why inbound marketing is so powerful.
Everybody can do it. It’s mostly based upon time, knowledge and creativity. Money is not as important as it used to be. Now we can do a lot of awesome stuff, just by creating video and uploading them to YouTube and by blogging. The price is not a factor anymore.
A lot of people are immune to regular paid advertisement. Today, when we watch TV we have a remote and switch to another channel as soon as we see any paid advertisements, many of us have a Tivo and will fast forward when the commercials are on. When we receive a call on our mobile phone, we have caller id, it’s fairly easy to spot a sales agent.
Internet is suffering from information overflow, hence, most of us are active not passive consumers. We are looking for the information, the information is usually not just there in front of us. Because we’re active searchers for information, we (almost) only find advertisements interesting that are related to what we’re looking for (Google AdSense).
They already know you
The great thing about inbound marketing, is that the potential customers already know you. They have been looking for you, and they’ve found you based upon their criteria. They are contacting you, and they want to know more about what you do and what you have to offer.
Think about it.
If you’re selling cars, and the only brand you’re selling is Volvo. It would be a lot harder to advertise all over the place with competing brands and convince people that Volvo is the car to buy, compared to sell a Volvo to a person entering your store because she is already looking for a Volvo.
I didn’t say that
Hold on for a minute. I have never said that inbound marketing is easy, because it’s not, in fact it might even be harder than the regular paid advertisements. But once we understand its power, we will never go back.
We probably won’t stop using regular paid advertisements and stop interrupting people while watching TV or surfing the web or any other activity, because sometimes we need to interrupt them in order to get them to notice us and find our content. It’s just a very small part of what we do.
Usually, when it comes to inbound marketing, people don’t understand how to do it and where to do it. So, here’s a short list of examples of how.
Think content, and the content is usually a solution to a problem that people in your niche are already looking for.
For instance, I work at a college, and I know that a lot of seniors in high schools are not just looking for where and what to study, and what type of jobs they get when finished at the college. They’re also looking for all sorts of guides; How to get good grades, how to earn money while studying, how to write notes, how to get organized, how to eat healthy and cheap, and hundreds of more guides.
If the college published awesome free guides on those topics, don’t you think that the students reading the guides will think that the college who have already been helping them would be an interesting place to study?
What we want to do, is creating relations with people based upon the content we publish.
Where to publish
There are many ways to do inbound marketing, but I’ll be brief and provide you with a short list. What’s important is to understand that we should be using a mix of the various methods of inbound marketing. We shouldn’t just do one or two, but many. We want to be found and attract the customers, on the other hand it’s better to be remarkable at one of the methods than less than ordinary on many of the methods.
There are two main methods (I’m not sure what people call it, but I’m using my own words and I bet you understand what I’m getting at).
This is the platforms that you control. This is usually owned by the company and used on a regular basis.
For instance, we’re talking about websites, landing pages, blogs, emails.
We attract customers by creating remarkable content, and by search engine optimization (keyword optimization and various link building strategies).
This is the platforms that you don’t control. They are usually owned by other companies.
For instance, we’re talking about other blogs in your niche, article directories, and social media.
What we do is create the content and distribute it, by creating guest posts, articles, tweets, facebook updates, videos to YouTube etc..
Let’s combine everything
The real effect of inbound marketing happens when we create remarkable content and combine the internal and external methods.
For instance, if we’re in the health industry and consulting people to eat healthy, we can start by writing a blog post (on our own blog) about how to eat healthy for $5 a day, then we tweet about the blog post, we update Facebook with how we managed to eat cheap and healthy food. Then, we create a video of our “experiment” and upload it to YouTube, and we write an article that we publish to Ezine Articles and finally we write a few guest posts for blogs in that niche (the healthy cheap food niche).
In the end
In the end, what we’re looking for is to create a long lasting relationship with people. That’s why we want them to ask questions and discuss the content. Blogs are perfect for that, and so are social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.