It’s apparent that there has been a major shift in marketing strategy and tactics over the last decade or so. Due in large part to the rise of technology, the rules of marketing have changed. We now live in a world where the companies with large budgets and glamorous TV commercials are not the only ones that capture our attention. These days, it is the businesses with the best Web content that attracts our attention.
To reach today’s consumer, you must reel them in, rather than forcing your message down their throats. The consumer is in control, so make your business attractive to them. Your company now has more opportunity, but is also more vulnerable because of the Internet and technology. Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, cofounders of HubSpot, generated the inspiration behind this article.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is about the creating and sharing of content. If a business crafts content that is appealing and attractive to their target audience, the result is qualified prospects that will keep coming back for more. It makes the company easy to be found online and draws customers to the website through its content.
Outbound marketing is the “old-school” way of doing marketing. Television ads, radio spots, billboards, email blasts, cold calling, etc. The issue with outbound marketing is that consumers are getting better at blocking out these “interruptions”. DVR allows us to skip over commercials, YouTube allows us to skip advertisements, and any fishy or irrelevant promotional emails go straight to the trash.
Inbound Marketing Strategy
Nearly everyone uses the Internet when they have a question to be answered, are looking for entertainment or business, or are just plain bored. Having an appealing online presence in this digital age is vital for successful business.
In 2012, there were 1.87 trillion Google searches worldwide. This translates to approximately 5.13 billion Google searches PER DAY! It’s safe to say that Google, or search engines in general, are a necessary place to be discovered. Google ranking is based off of two things: relevance and authority. Relevance is the measure of how close of a match a given web page is to the query being entered. Authority is the measure of how important and authoritative that given page is in the eye of Google. The more interaction, shares, comments, and links to your page, the greater the authority you will receive.
When deciding on keywords that will reel in the best quality traffic to your website, it is necessary to find a balance between three factors: relevance, estimated search volume, and difficulty (strength of competition). If your website has low authority, choose keywords with low competition; then, as your site builds authority, then you can use higher volume keywords. Try to think from the viewpoint of your potential customers, and don’t assume customers know all of the industry-specific terminology.
The best websites these days are a “hub”, rather than a “megaphone”. They have crafted communities for interaction and connections amongst like-minded people. If your website needs help, rather than redesigning it, add something collaborative that is easy to update on a regular basis (such as a blog), create compelling content, and turn your focus to where the real action is (Google, industry blogs, social media sites). Doing these three things effectively and consistently will put you in a very good standing among your competition.
According to Alexa, a web information company, Facebook was the 2nd most visited website in the world in 2012 (only behind Google), YouTube was the 3rd most visited, LinkedIn was 8th most, and Twitter came in at number 11. Social media has clearly become a massive part of our lives. It is a comfortable place where people can connect, interact, and share online, which translates into a very attractive place for businesses as well.
In order to build your company’s social network, it is important to follow these five steps:
- Tell your unique story
- Participate and follow up quickly to comments or engagement
- Be open and treat people professionally
- Be patient
Interlinking social sites with one another also helps generate traffic to your desired websites. Creating a variety of content (blogs, videos, podcasts, etc.) is important in order to keep readers attentive. The most attractive part of social media is its potential to go viral. This can be good or bad, depending on the content, and will result in a ton of publicity and interaction with consumers.
Inbound Marketing through a Blog
“Either write something worth reading about or do something worth writing about.” – Ben Franklin
Blogs help you build trust over time, establish your company as a thought leader in the industry, change your website from an online brochure to a living hub, improve search engine rankings, and increases the amount of links to your website. The key to getting engagement with your blogs is having unique and valuable content that is worthy of interaction. Watch your competitors to see what they are posting, but do not copy them. Find your niche or competitive advantage by asking the question “What am I the world’s best at?” Remarkable ideas spread extremely quickly on the Internet.
The following are important pieces of advice or strategy to use when creating your blog:
- Initially, create neutral, short, and industry-specific content in order to build rapport
- Have guest bloggers and get creative (interviews, videos, cartoons)
- Re-work old blog article titles to include relevant industry keywords
- Spend half of the time writing, and half of the time coming up with a catchy title
- Encourage readers to leave comments, even if they disagree (chance to display customer service skills)
- Share, share, share in order to make the blog more readily available
- Subscribe to blogs with high authority and followers (hang out with the industry)
- Comment on other blogs, and respond to comments on your own blog
Don’t waste your money bombarding the public with marketing messages that nobody cares about or has learned to ignore. Focus on the new rules of marketing – inbound marketing – and get found today.