Inbound Marketing: what it is & why it’s a good thing

Increasingly, I have clients asking me how they can get more traffic to their website, more leads, more business.  Enter Inbound marketing.

If you’re not someone who does marketing for a living, let me give you this description of Inbound vs Outbound marketing from Wikipedia:

“HubSpot claims Inbound marketing is based on the concept of earning the attention of prospects, making yourself easy to be found and drawing customers to your website by producing content customers value.  Blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, enewsletters, whitepapers, SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing are considered inbound marketing.  In contrast, buying attention, cold-calling, direct paper mail, radio, TV advertisements, sales flyers, spam, telemarketing and traditional advertising are considered “outbound marketing.”

So in essence, rather than buying advertising space or bugging people uninvited (read: cold-calling), you earn their attention – perhaps by publishing helpful information on your blog or sharing useful content with your contacts (see what I’m doing here?!)

People are already out there looking for what you offer (assuming you don’t have a really wierd, useless offering).  So instead of sending a sales flyer out to 1000 people, out of which possibly 1 person might be thinking about buying what you offer, you create content which gets found and shared by people who are already looking for what you provide.

Does it stack up?

If the concept sounds good, let’s have a look at some statistics.  I was recently reading Hubspot’s ‘The State of Inbound Marketing in 2012’.  It’s based on a survey of 972 professionals conducted in January 2012.  You can read the full thing here; if you don’t have time, I’ve pulled out four highlights that struck me:

  • Leads generated via SEO have a 14.6% closure rate, while outbound sourced leads have a 1.7% closure rate
  • Leads from inbound links (referrals) are five times more likely to become customers than outbound leads (although interestingly, Social Media leads are only twice as likely)
  • The frequency of your blog posts correlates directly to customer acquisition
  • (This is nothing new, but worth highlighting…) the effectiveness of different social media channels depends very much on your business type.  At the highest level, Facebook is more effective for B2C (Business to Consumer), LinkedIn for B2B (Business to Business).

So what does it mean for you?

  • If you don’t already have a blog, get one (integrated with your website).
  • What are you writing about?  If you are just waffling, think about your content strategy.  Think book rather than diary.  Before you write each post, think ‘how is this going to be of use to my clients/potential clients?’
  • Ensure your blog posts are linked back to a conversion/sign-up page.
  • Think about Social Media – which platform(s) could work for you?  If you are blogging regularly, use Social Media to make people aware of your content – in a meaningful way.
  • Keep your eyes open for linking opportunities – partners, clients, guest blogging, suppliers… these are all people who potentially will be willing to link back to your website.  Don’t be afraid to ask!
  • If you’re struggling to find the time to get this stuff done, outsource it – either in it’s totallity, or get someone to help you just with the strategy and planning (in a ‘mentor’ type fashion).  Tell me more.

photo credit: Eric Kilby via photopin cc

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