Inbound marketing may well be the best opportunity for a small business to develop new customer relationships in today’s complicated and busy world. Inbound marketing is an umbrella term and it’s usually placed in contrast with “outbound” marketing, essentially conventional advertising. At the basic level, inbound marketing tactics enable an audience who is interested in your business, your services and/or your products to “find” you online. These people form a community around your business–in traditional sales terms we’d call them suspects, prospects and customers. Like conventional advertising, the goal of inbound marketing strategy is more customers, but the perspective and the tactics are different. The object is not to push a product to candidates who might be interested, but to provide information that allows candidates who are interested to learn about what you do and what you sell.
Content is the driver behind inbound marketing. In fact, the buzzwords “inbound marketing” and “content marketing” are almost interchangeable. Customers find you through articles and information you publish on your website and promote through social media. Inbound marketing envisions a dialogue between your company and your community, driven by interesting content and response. People who are interested in your business are drawn to your website, where they learn about your company. Some of them are interested enough to connect with you directly. They become prospects, who then may be converted into customers.
If all of this sounds a little nebulous, that’s OK. The advent of inbound marketing tactics certainly does not mean the conventional advertising is all washed up, nor that conventional techniques shouldn’t also be part of the mix for small businesses. Some outbound tactics, like direct mail, can be very effective; especially when they are targeted to a specific audience and coupled with an online method for response.
The primary advantage of an inbound marketing strategy is cost: you can do a lot for a little. The primary drawback is the time requirement. In order for content marketing to work, the content must be interesting, relevant, and provided frequently. There’s an immense amount of static in the marketplace and sporadic, boring content just won’t get found.
Content can take various forms:
Weblogs or “blogs” are a hot property in today’s marketing landscape. Your company blog can be part of your company’s website or integrated tightly with it. It’s the central source for new and interesting information about your business and your industry.
Yes, a lot of hype surrounds social media. The salient fact remains that what others say on social networks about your company influences current and potential customers. If you don’t take the opportunity to define the conversation, others will define it for you. Even if your company is not actively engaged in producing content, it’s still good to monitor the social media sites to see what others are saying about your business. Increasingly, an active social media strategy is considered mandatory for businesses to succeed.
It’s surprising that many now think of email as “old-school” marketing. Email really can’t be strictly defined as inbound marketing. It’s really kind of a hybrid inbound/outbound effort. Email a great way to provide both content and advertising to an interested audience, though. The best email newsletters combine useful information and customer incentives.
Landing pages are a key component of this marketing channel. To be effective, every email should have a call to action, a reason for the recipient to interact further with your company. This is generally facilitated by a specific landing page (or series of pages) on the company website that carries the dialogue along. Landing pages both provide and gather information.
Where does DP Marketing fit in?
Not every channel works for every business. DP Marketing can help you create and implement an inbound marketing strategy that fits your company. Our services include:
- Content Development — We can help with writing, editing, and curating interesting information about your business, your products and your industry. You may also want us to work within your organization to develop and train others who can create and publish content for your business.
- Scheduling, Channel Selection, and Strategy — While the ROI from inbound marketing may be greater than conventional strategies, it can require a significant time investment. For efforts to be successful, they must be frequent and regular. DP Marketing can help coordinate message, create a publication calendar, and select the best social media channels for your business.
- Integration — Content marketing can be very effective when combined with conventional outbound efforts. DP Marketing can help with design and implementation of cross-channel campaigns, which can use conventional advertising, direct mail, and inbound tactics in conjunction to reach a specific goal.
What to do next? Simply contact us and ask for a review of your current inbound marketing efforts. Our first conversation is absolutely free and we’ll be happy to put together some ideas for further work if you’d like some assistance.