What is inbound marketing?
When most people think of marketing they think of newspaper ads, phone book listings (as our included photo depicts...more on that at the end of this post), commercials, and trade shows where companies push their products out for the public to view, or outbound marketing. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, focuses on being found by leads. An example of outbound marketing would be a television commercial which will, you hope, be seen by a large group of people. You know that not every single viewer of your commercial is going to be in the market for your product, and of those that are fewer still will choose to become your customers. So you cast as wide of a marketing net as possible in the hopes of gathering leads.
When you utilize a strategy of inbound marketing, however, you don't need to throw out that huge net. Instead you focus on creating content relevant to your business and the needs it fulfills. The idea is that when a customer is in the market for your service or product, they will look for information about it and there you will be with the information they need and the ability to fulfill their need. This way you are reaching customers who are going to become quality leads and avoiding those who will not.
For example, if you are an industrial distributor and want to grow your sales and generate leads you would focus on creating content your prospect will find helpful. You would write about problems your products solve, solutions to related problems, how to choose the right product for solving their problem, etc. An indivdual who is seeking a product will search for information about the problem they need the product to solve, not necessarily the specifc product you are trying to sell. When the business consumes your content, they become a quality lead. No huge net, no costly marketing campaign, just your content being found by a lead who needs it. You can now nurture that lead and ultimately sell them your product.
If this example seems overly simplified, it's because it is. How do leads find your content? How do you create content? What kinds of content should you create? These are all questions that lead into the heart of inbound marketing. In the blog posts which follow we will explore the fundamentals of inbound marketing, including blogging, SEO, calls to actions, landing pages, and social media.
If you're not sure why the internet is important for your business, I suggest you take a moment to review our blog post "Is Your Inbound Marketing Strategy Good Enough?" where we talk about some important trends in internet usage. The three biggest take-a-ways:
- 3/4 of the US uses the internet
- A little more than 88% of those online will browse or research products online
- Your customers are online and you should be too
And now an outbound marketing 'cautionary tale' from Steve Martin in the 1979 film The Jerk: