Although it’s a relatively new term, the average business is wanting to focus on inbound marketing above anything else. It refers to the grouping of marketing efforts that are designed to push prospects toward a business and directly into their sales funnel through engagement and relationship building. Prospects are already engaged in conversations about the things that they want. Inbound marketing is what allows a business to get involved with that conversation in a natural way.
Because this is such a new grouping of marketing techniques, you may not know what the main tools are that you can use. Here are some examples of inbound marketing that are being successfully used right now. The chances are good, in fact, that you are already using 1 or 2 of these right now.
1. Search Engine Optimization
Information is the primary currency being traded today and SEO is what helps a business provide information. Joining a conversation today doesn’t mean that you cold call someone or post a comment on someone’s Facebook status. It means providing a customer with enough value that their own research will lead them to you. This is why SEO is so essential.
It can be tempting to use black hat techniques to gain a competitive edge, but don’t fall for that temptation. For inbound marketing to work on a long-term basis, you’ll need to provide ongoing value. Here are some of the proven SEO techniques that work to create organic results.
- Expertise that is shared through blog posts, static pages, and available downloads.
- Meaningful outgoing links that take people to fact sources, industry research, or other information they may need.
- Ongoing value through pillar content that always stays relevant.
2. Pay Per Click
PPC advertising is remarkably similar to SEO today. You’re still emphasizing keywords with a PPC campaign, however, and you’ll need to know what your target demographics happen to be. It works because you are guaranteeing that your site, products, or services are going to be found under specific search terms.
This is where knowing the longtail keywords of your website’s main searches will be a tremendous advantage. Longtail keywords are typically five words or more and strung together in either a sentence, a question, or a prolonged description. If you focus your SEO on some of your primary keywords and supplement them with a PPC campaign, then your chances of being found in an inbound way increase exponentially.
3. Social Media
You don’t need to post links or send random messages to people in order to get them to notice you. With a Facebook page that is relevant, a Twitter account that is engaging, or a Pinterest account that is filled with helpful tips, you’ll be able to bring people to you instead. There are some advantages and disadvantages to consider, however, with this particular method of inbound marketing.
- You become part of a person’s online life.
- Sharing your information is easy to do.
- Links can be repeatedly shared or sponsorships can be paid to make sure the most people possible are engaged.
- Not interacting with your posts may cause your information to be automatically dropped.
- People may scroll by your updates and not realize that there is value to be found within them.
- You can be followed or liked, yet still have your updates completely ignored.
If you’re focusing on option #1, then you’d better be including option #4 as well when it comes to inbound marketing. Nothing is more valuable on a website than a blog. It’s the one place where people will really engage with long-form content.
The problem with blogging, however, is that the average blogger is not structuring their content properly. You have 5 seconds to engage with a customer. That’s enough time to read a headline and maybe the first paragraph of a blog post. If you’ve engaged them, you’ll get 10 more seconds to continue providing value – that’s 2 more paragraphs. Lose the value and you’ll lose prospect.
Being extra wordy or overly detailed will be the downfall of an inbound marketing campaign that features blogging. Share your stories. Be interesting. Be authentic. Most importantly, however, make sure that you are sharing the facts. Fiction is fun for entertainment. Marketing fiction leaves a bad taste in a reader’s mouth.
5. Know Your Audience
One of the most effective inbound marketing techniques there is today is to take a definitive stand on a potentially controversial subject. Although this will cause a business to lose prospects who don’t agree with that stand, the brand awareness that is built by supporters of your choice will be huge. Here are just a few examples that have taken place since 2012 where brands built big recognition by taking a non-compromising stand on a subject.
- Kraft Foods taking a stand for LGBTQI rights with their 2012 posting of an Oreo cookie that had a rainbow filling.
- Hobby Lobby filing a lawsuit and refusing to comply with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act [Obamacare] birth control provisions for religious reasons.
- Chick-Fil-A announcing that they support traditional marriage definitions.
Is this inbound marketing technique a risk? It certainly is. It takes big risks to generate big rewards. Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A, with their stances, have established themselves as major business entities in the conservative marketplace. Kraft Foods generated 143,000 likes with their rainbow cookie in just one day with over 18k comments.
The power of inbound marketing is the relationship. When you can join a conversation or start one based on the knowledge you have of your audience, then you’re giving people the desire to enter your sales funnel because they feel like they can relate to what you’ve got to say. Create value, provide expertise, and be authentic. In doing so, you’ll create consistent results with these inbound marekting examples.