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Inbound Marketing Explained

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Inbound marketing is the present and future of online marketing. Consumers no longer accept outbound marketing methods, so it's time to create valuable content that acts as the inbound marketing engine. This whitepaper gives you everything you need to know to get onboard with Inbound Marketing!

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Inbound Marketing Explained

  1. 1. ExplainingInbound Marketing
  2. 2. What  Exactly  Is  ‘Inbound  Marketing’?  It’s an all-too-familiar scenario marketers face in the real business world of 2012.  The budget continues to shrink, the boss wants you to keep working harder to “get the name outthere,” but as soon as you attempt to make real changes and take a new approach to marketing,the barriers inside the office arise.  If you thought convincing customers to buy your product or service was difficult, try explaininghow you plan to flip the marketing function on its head and implement an inbound marketingplan during the 10 minutes you’re allotted at the next board meeting.  That’s right, you’re going to waltz into the board meeting and tell the leadership team that thetraditional way of marketing needs to be scrapped (NOW!). Then you will explain the strategyand tactics that will make customers find the company instead of the company chasing everycustomer with a boatload of expensive ads. That’s the backbone of inbound marketing, and it’sthe right direction.  The company will no longer try to step into the lives of its customers with advertisements,commercials or cold calls. Instead, it will create content that people want to see that carries withit the right message. A consistent effort in the hands of skilled, experienced professionals canmake this happen.  Inbound marketing concepts can conjure up blank stares in a board room as you attempt toexplain the usefulness of SEO, social media, blogging and content marketing. This paper willhelp you erase those blank stares you receive from your boss, family and friends and move yourmarketing toward a new day of relationship building, two-way communication and customerswho qualify themselves.                                                
  3. 3. Inbound  vs.  Outbound  The outbound approach works to flood potential customers with the company’s message usingtelevision commercials, radio spots, newspaper/magazine ads, point-of-purchase materials oreven a static ad on a web page. The company attempts to be ever-present wherever thecustomer may be. This is expensive, and the fact remains that your customers are in a heck of alot more places now than they were five years ago. You can’t meet them everywhere they go.  Customers will read and interact with something that interests or benefits them directly. This iswhere inbound marketing makes its move. Give them information they want and they canactually use. Use education and entertainment to entice customers, not another sales pitch.    Elephants stuck in the middle of a drought wander the desert looking for a good watering hole.Once they find it, they take a drink and keep coming back as long as the watering hole is full.You can provide that cool drink of water with a consistent effort and content that your customerswant.    Outbound Marketing   Inbound Marketing  Communication is strictlyone way.  Messages are interactiveand easily shared  You are searching forcustomers  Products and services arefound voluntarily bycustomers  No added value comesfrom the marketer.  Customers can use thevaluable materials theyreceive.  Marketer only tries to sellinstead of entertaining oreducating.  Education andentertainment comes fromyour messages, makingyou a thought leader anda resource    Inbound marketing focuses on building a relationship that lasts thus earning, not buyingsomeone’s attention. You deliver engaging content that improves over time as you track whatcustomers are reading and what they are ignoring. The right content adds value and theaudience has the ability to request more and share it with others. And it’s far less expensive!      
  4. 4. Cover  your  territory  with  the  key  components  of  inbound  marketing  Content  Content’s  mom:  Do  you  think  the  world  revolves  around  you!      Content:  Why  yes.  Yes  it  does.    Content  is  a  diva.  It  truly  believes  that  it  is  the  center  of  the  universe.  It’s  right.  Let’s  avoid  the  term  “content  is  king”  because  that’s  understating  things.  A  king  only  rules  one  country.  Content  sits  at  the  center  of  these  key  components  where  your  key  messages  are  developed  and  calls  to  action  radiate  out  to  your  audience  no  matter  where  they  find  you.  Excellent  content  makes  finding  your  business  worth  something.  Make sure the house is in order before the guests arrive    Hey,  looky  there,  folks  keep  reading  your  information.  Now  you  need  to  make  it  easy  for  those  kind  people  to  share  it  with  their  friends  or  take  the  next  step  in  this  budding  relationship.    Make  the  “subscribe  to  our  blog”  or  “friend”  buttons  easy  to  find,  but  don’t  be  obnoxious  with  pop-­‐up  windows  that  get  in  the  way  of  the  content  you  so  carefully  crafted.  You  need  to  make  more  of  your  content  available  if  they  want  to  dig  deeper,  but  don’t  turn  your  site  into  a  blinking,  twinkling,  less  classy  version  of  Times  Square  with  ads  that  make  the  visitor  feel  like  they  are  in  a  high-­‐pressure  sales  environment.  Ensure  that  request  forms,  two-­‐way  communication  tools  and  other  interactive  widgets  are  in  working  order  and  someone  knowledgeable  is  responding.      Restaurants  with  awesome  grub  fail  everyday  because  the  experience  is  miserable.  Your  website,  Facebook  page  or  blog  can  fail  in  much  the  same  way.                        
  5. 5. Organic  SEO:  Turn  Those  Amps  Up  to  11    This  can  really  burn  your  valuable  time.  If  it  seems  overwhelming,  you’re  probably  right,  but  you  can  take  a  practical,  and  manageable,  approach  and  still  reap  the  rewards.  Google  makes  hundreds  of  changes  to  its  search  algorithm  each  year  and  it’s  impossible  to  keep  up  with  them.  Despite  this  daunting  barrier,  a  few  things  don’t  change  in  algorithm  and  you  have  total  control.  Search  engines  focus  on  the  audience  and  you  need  to  do  the  same.    • Know  thy  audience  Understand  the  priorities  of  your  audience  and  connect  to  them  through  those  priorities.  They  search  by  their  priorities  not  by  your  product.  • Speak  their  language  When  customers  describe  problems  or  make  requests  for  specific  services,  listen  and  don’t  just  listen  to  fill  the  order,  capture  it  and  include  their  words  in  your  content.  • Address  the  priorities  using  the  same  words  Describe  challenges  and  products  the  same  way  customers  do.  Lose  your  office  jargon.  • Acquire  content  for  your  site  that  your  audience  wants  It’s  absolutely  fine  to  pull  in  content  from  another  site  and  give  them  the  credit.  Repurposing  stories  from  media  outlets  that  cover  your  industry  aren’t  just  a  good  idea,  they’re  essential.  • Join  the  Internet  conversation  Don’t  be  a  hermit  crab  by  letting  your  beautiful  site/blog  become  a  shell  you  won’t  leave.  Set  out  into  the  wide  open  webs  and  get  in  on  the  conversation.  Join  industry  groups,  share  good  content  and  participate  in  discussions.  Your  visibility  will  increase;  other  sites  will  add  your  link;  readers  will  “Like”  your  content  and  your  community  will  grow.  Search  engines  dig  this.  Remember,  it’s  just  as  important  to  provide  good  content  when  you  are  participating  in  discussions  as  it  is  when  adding  content  to  your  own  site.  You  can  make  a  fool  of  yourself  in  both  places.  Inbound  Marketing  Makes  Business  Sense    It’s  inexpensive  -­‐  Outbound  marketing  means  it’s  time  to  buy.  Ads,  e-­‐mail  lists  and  broadcast  messages  all  come  with  hefty  price  tags  (Have  you  priced  a  trade  show  booth  lately?).      Inbound  marketing  simply  means  creating  content  for  your  audience  and  striking  up  a  conversation  about  it.  It’s  a  mistake  to  think  it’s  free  because  you  will  need  to  dedicate  staff  labor  to  the  job,  but  the  vehicles  don’t  cost  a  penny.  A  blog  costs  nothing  to  set  up;  Twitter,  Facebook  and  LinkedIn  accounts  are  free  and  all  will  help  you  rake  in  the  visitors.  
  6. 6. Mass  e-­‐mail,  cold  calling,  ads  and  other  broadcast  tactics  are  poorly  targeted.  The  firm  selling  you  these  products  can  generate  all  the  pretty  data  in  the  world,  but  the  fact  remains  that  they  don’t  really  know  who  is  on  the  other  end.  Good  inbound  marketing  execution  works  to  build  audience  members  who  qualify  themselves.  They  demonstrate  the  interest,  you  respond  in  kind.    Inbound  marketing  is  not  an  ongoing  expense.  Maintaining  a  prime  spot  in  a  magazine  or  on  a  radio  show  requires  regular  expenditures.  If  you  make  the  effort  in  targeting  your  content,  search  engine  results  will  be  there  until  someone  else  displaces  you.  As  long  as  no  one  knows  your  audience  better  than  you,  that  won’t  happen.    Conversion  and  retention  –  Your  website,  blog  and  social  media  pages,  loaded  with  great  content,  all  lead  customers  through  the  entire  sales  process  with  a  big  smile.  The  call-­‐to-­‐action,  the  capture,  gathering  of  their  information  and  the  thank  you  all  happen  automatically.  There’s  no  break  in  the  action  like  you  get  when  someone  reads  a  brochure  and  then  forgets  when  they’re  ready  to  buy.  Again,  all  this  happens  voluntarily  on  the  customer  side.  New  Tools  Keep  Giving  You  More  Control  Not too long ago, a small staff of marketers couldn’t develop a wide range of great content,distribute through social media vehicles and take charge of their own search results. Tools fordeveloping professional quality video, social media sites, interactive forms and database-drivencontent are readily available and users with average ability can make them come to life. Yourbusiness can generate a variety of content that gets people talking.  This is what made inbound marketing viable. Small businesses and small marketing staffs cannow play in the same arena as the big fellas. A great product, service or skill can becommunicated right alongside the monsters at Apple and Microsoft. Your business can becomea thought leader in your industry.  Keywords  and  Messages  That  Hit  the  Target    Enter the Keyword JungleWhen submitting a proposal to a potential customer, you have a clear idea about what theywant and the proposal satisfies that requirement first. Then you might advise that they add onanother widget to make the product better. Finally,you give them the Cadillac plan with all thebells and whistles and the fat invoice that comes with the package. Essentially you have offeredthe “safe,” “target” and “reach” plans within one proposal.  You can approach keyword selection the same way.  The best keywords out there have a big crowd chasing them with stacks of cash devoted toGoogle AdWords accounts. It’s worth it to fight for those, but the results will come quicker using“target” terms your customers know, and there’s less competition. You can build a foundation ofkeyword success even quicker by using “safe” industry specific terms and long-tail keywords.  
  7. 7. Long-tail keywords?Long-tail keywords are longer, more detailed phrases that are less common. They may not fetcha higher search engine ranking to the entire world, but as you refine your messages, youraudience will find them quicker. Again, you can compete with the right content and you don’tneed to fight Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble for the best keywords right away. (Learn moreabout long-tail keywords in one minute.)  You can easily make progress with long-tail keywords and then put more time into securing oneof those super sexy keywords that controls your industry.  Inbound  Marketing  Requires  Effort  and  Other  Things  That  Haven’t  Changed  Despite all the changes in technology and the audience itself, many things youneed for a successful marketing program remain the same. Your inbound marketingresults will depend on your effort. Great, now we sound like the meathead trainer at thegym.  You will see better results by devoting one hour a day to your online marketing regimenthan 10 hours on one day. You can’t deliver content five times in one week and thenquit for a month. Your rankings, audience and messages will sink like a rock. You get hepoint.  Every successful business and marketing program has one thing in common, aclear message. Take a moment right now and think about products you know. Youknow what those products do and why you would buy them because the clear messagehas been delivered over and over again.  Start by developing two messages — the core message and the marketing message. Forexample, a company that sells BBQ grills might talk about having a huge selection atlow prices for their core message. Then the marketing message would be about howyour grill will become the center of all your outdoor parties and activities for your family.  That’s old-school marketing and it’s still important today. The core message teachesand the marketing message makes a connection to people.                
  8. 8. Conclusion:  Market  with  a  Magnet,  Not  A  Carpet  Bomb  Inbound marketing is all about attracting customers with great content and then starting theconversation. Outbound marketing works to bomb as many people as possible with a messageand then hope a decent percentage of those folks stagger out of the wreckage to buy yourproduct (see: used car business). If the first attempt doesn’t work, bomb them again.  Inbound marketing is less expensive, more versatile and you will understand who is receivingyour clear message.  The case for inbound marketing  • Leads cost 62% less  • 89% of businesses are either maintaining or increasing inbound marketing budgets  • 57% of companies with a blog have acquired a customer from their blog.  • 92% of companies who blog multiple times per day have acquired a customer fromtheir blog.  • 62% of companies using LinkedIn have acquired a customer from the network.  • 77% of B2C companies report that they have acquired a customer through Facebook.    (Stats  according  to  Hubspot.com)    WAS  THIS  HELPFUL?  SHARE  OR  CONNECT  WITH  US  ONLINE!    http://digitalsherpa.com/blog  http://facebook.com/digitalsherpas  http://twitter.com/digitalsherpas  http://linkedin.com/company/digital-­‐sherpa  http://youtube.com/digitalsherpas