Career Advice - A Community Blog

Erik Larson writes about the job market, resume improvement, and career advice

What You Need To Know About Inbound Marketing

Written by Erik Larson, Community Blogger | Oct 18, 2017 3:36 AM

Imagine the marketing leverage you would have if you could target your products to people who you know are interested and already engaged with your company. That is exactly what inbound marketing allows you to do. With inbound marketing, you can target customers who not only have shown an interest in your product, but they have also given you their contact information.

Inbound marketing allows businesses to attract customers to their website or location by offering them something of value for their inquiry. For instance, a company that sells specialty books about the stock market might offer a white paper, or a video, about safe investment techniques.

For a customer to view the white paper or the video, they have to supply an e-mail address. The purpose of inbound marketing is to get the name of a company in front of prospective clients and provide them with something useful, so they remember the company and the information.

Inbound marketing is powerful because it causes a potential client to interact with your website. They have to enter an e-mail or other contact information to receive the offer. This initial interaction builds a connection with the customer, and this improves your branding and exposure in the marketplace.

Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

Inbound and outbound marketing are completely different schools of thought. Rand Fishkin and his team over at Moz.com created a great blog and image to demonstrate the difference between the two approaches. Traditional advertising strategies focus on marketers putting brands regularly in front of people and creating catchphrases and logos to make the company memorable. The usual mediums are ads in newspapers, magazines, or mailers, or on TV and radio. That is called outbound marketing, and it is the more traditional form of advertising.

This promotional style assumes that customers will remember your ad and company when they need your service. This type of publicity is expensive because you need to consistently purchase advertising space or time to keep the company in people's minds.

Inbound marketing begins with offering something of value to your potential clients. For example, a company that sells plastic model kits might write an e-book about how to build awesome models. People interested in learning how to make kit models would then have an opportunity to submit their e-mail for a link where they can download the book.

The potential clients receive a book that has useful information, and the company receives their e-mail for further marketing campaigns and informational e-mails. And, the company also knows that the person at the other end of the e-mail has an interest in their products.

Begin with Valuable Information

Jason Kulpa is the CEO of Underground Elephant. He encourages companies to always provide value to consumers as a way to earn their attention and build trust. "Today, companies have to offer something of value to the consumer, which means it should contain information they will find useful and actionable. Regardless of the delivery method, whether e-book or video, you should provide information that is well-researched and error-free. After all, this may be the prospective client's first encounter with your company, and the information you present will shape their initial opinions about your firm" says Kulpa.

Blogging for Attention

Many people don't have the time to construct an e-book or write a white paper, but you can achieve the same effect with a blog. Writing a blog post on a regular basis is an excellent way to get higher rankings in search engines. If writing isn't your strength, you can record a video or even make a podcast instead. You just need to be consistent.

Again, the key is to provide valuable information in the posts, something the reader can apply right away. Use specific keywords throughout your article that reference your business. These keywords will help search engines rank and target your blog in search results.

Inbound marketing means you aren't chasing customers down with anything more than advertising. Instead, you are offering something that will benefit them and let them know about your company.

Think about times a store employee has helped you, free of charge; wasn't it a good feeling to get useful advice?  Inbound marketing offers companies the same opportunity to give free tips and gain instant credibility with customers. Think of this as a digital form of the principle of reciprocity.

An inbound marketing system doesn't require a large budget, and once it is up and running, it doesn't take a lot of time to maintain. This type of advertising is perfect for local businesses and specialty shops.  Take the time to examine your business and figure out what you can offer to prospective customers that will keep them coming back for more information and future sales.

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