What Is Inbound Marketing

In a series of articles over the coming months, we’ll be simplifying and demystifying some of the myths surrounding Inbound Marketing, and providing you with numerous valuable insights.  We’ll cover what it means, how it works, and what you can do to make it work for you, as well as revealing where you can go to get help.  In this first introductory article we’re going to start with some of the basics, namely what is it and why you need to take it seriously.

So what is Inbound Marketing?

In the classic definition “marketing” comprises all of those activities that help to attract and retain customers and support the sales function.  Typically, we think of things like advertising or mailshots or telemarketing.  This form of marketing – still very widely used and with a global spend into the hundreds of millions – has been described as “buying your way in” and has recently been termed “outbound marketing”.

The advent of the internet, and the rapid evolution and increasing sophistication not just of web sites but of social media and blogging, has led to the term “inbound marketing” or “earning your way in”.  Relevant and high quality content attracts customers in a different, more subtle but arguably much more effective way, using blogs, podcasts, on-line video, e-newsletters and so on.  The thinking being, you’re providing the customer with something that they’re looking for.

Models of Inbound Marketing

At this early stage you don’t need to concern yourselves with too much of the theory, as what you’re primarily concerned with of course is quite simple – getting more customers to buy more from you!  But some overview will be helpful as you develop your thinking.  Here’s one useful model:

1.    Get found
2.    Convert
3.    Analyse

Let’s look at each in turn.

Getting found. The Holy Grail of the internet perhaps?  How to ensure that your site gets found.  This is where SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation, comes into its own .

Convert.  Once the customer has found you, you still need to get them to buy, so the job isn’t done!  Your site needs to have good content, be easily navigable, and have a slick (and secure) purchasing process.

Analyse.  Finally, you need to have access to data that enables you to improve continuously, without needing to become a technical or internet guru.  Questions like “how many customers visited?”, “what pages did they look at?”, “how many leads did I get?’ and “how many leads became customers?” need readily available and easy-to-digest answers.  You then feed the insight you gain from these answers back into “Getting found”, and start the improvement cycle.

Another useful model reveals five stages, although this is simply a slight enhancement to the above model:

1.    Attract traffic
2.    Convert visitors to leads
3.    Convert leads to sales
4.    Turn customers into repeat higher margin customers
5.    Analyse for continuous improvement

We’ll be using this five-stage model in future articles, taking each of them in turn, to help you navigate through the whole area of inbound marketing and develop an affective strategy for success.

The Vital Questions

Inbound marketing has been the most effective on-line marketing method since around 2006.  You now know what it is and what’s involved,  The problem is, so do your competitors!  So how do you stay ahead of the game, and how do you gain a competitive edge?  The answer to these vital questions will be found in future articles.

Next time

Next time round we’ll get into the detail of stage 1, namely how to attract traffic to your site and how an effective SEO strategy can pay you enormous dividends.

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