The Basics of Inbound Marketing

Author: Jeff Coon

Have you heard of inbound marketing? If not, we wanted to take this opportunity to give you a basic overview of how inbound marketing can be used to drive more traffic to your website, increase sales leads and convert more of your leads to customers using social media tools and networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Blogs, etc.

The foundation of inbound marketing is simple and it reminds me of a lesson I learned as a kid - treat others how you'd like to be treated. This holds true in marketing as well. I'm in the business of marketing and even I don't like being marketed to - at least not in the traditional sense.

Traditional marketing - or outbound marketing - is based on interruption. We are interrupted during our favorite TV Show and forced to watch a commercial for a product we may not even be interested in. Our mailbox and email inbox is flooded with offers we didn't sign up for and our favorite radio station pushes adds at us every 4 songs.

Consumers have been trained to block our messages and technology makes it so easy to do so. Caller ID helps us avoid telemarketers, satellite radio and our iPods allow us to listen to our favorite music commercial-free, TiVo and digital cable make television advertising less effective and SPAM filters and legislation make email marketing more difficult to do successfully (if you're not playing by the rules).

Inbound marketing is permission-based marketing. The goal is to create remarkable content that your customers WANT to read - at a time that's convenient for them. It's about being a resource and genuinely wanting to help your potential customers. By consistently publishing valuable content, your customers (and the search engines) will see you as a trusted authority in your niche market and when it comes time for them to make a buying decision, your name will be top of mind!

So, how do you get started with inbound marketing? The first step should be to create buyer personas for your customers. Specifically identify who your target audience is and what type of content they want to consume. What are their top questions or concerns? How can you make their life easier?

After you identify who your customers are, find out where they hang out. Are they on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube? If not, find where they are and GO TO THEM! If applicable, join their community - if, and only if, you intend on being a valuable member of the community. Online communities are very good at sniffing out and banishing those who are only there to "sell their wares."

Next, create a content publishing schedule. Decide what and how often you are going to publish and participate. We are all busy, so a publishing schedule will help you be consistent in your communications. It's very important that you commit to the communities you join and being consitent with your content helps set expectations for your readers.

Inbound marketing takes time, and like most things, won't happen overnight. But if done right, you can create a long-term reach to a more qualified audience that surpasses what can be accomplished via most traditional marketing channels.

Contact us to find out how inbound marketing can work for your company or organization.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, Twitter, Facebook, milwaukee, blogs, YouTube