What is Inbound Marketing? The 4 Most Important Steps for Success

by on October 19, 2012

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Inbound marketing, it’s a term you hear a lot, but what exactly is it? There are tons of different definitions online, and so we’ll start with the most basic definition of inbound marketing, which is: a set of marketing tactics that center on driving customers to your site (and hopefully, eventually your product or service).  Simply, it’s helping customers find you, instead of the other way around.  

These tactics include: making your site easier to find (SEO), driving traffic to your site (quality content creation), getting quality resources to link to your site (inbound links), and communicating directly with the audience via your website, blog, or social media (building customer relationships).  And by doing all of these things on a regular basis (this means at least weekly, yes, it takes time) you will be building a strong web presence and increasing your brand awareness at the same time.  

In order to be successful in inbound marketing, there are four important steps you must take:  

Inbound Marketing Step 1: Identify Your Target Audience

The first step, identify your target audience, is the most important step you must take, and it must be first.  In order to come up with SEO or content creation strategies to drive traffic, you have to first figure out who are you trying to attract to your site.  Once you identify your customers, you can begin to engage the target audience.  

The better understanding you have of who your target customers are, the more likely the rest of your inbound marketing strategy will be successful.  

Inbound Marketing Step 2: Create Compelling Content

Be a resource for your customers, not your products – create the content your target customers are searching for.  Remember, your customers don’t care about your product – they care about themselves, and what your product can do to help them.  For example, if you are a dentist who blogs and you’re excited about a new piece of equipment in the office don’t write about how new the technology is.  Instead, focus on how this new equipment will allow you to provide better dental care for your patients.  

The pieces of content you create will essentially work as advertising for your business.  However, it’s important that you don’t think of this content as advertising or promotion, but rather as resources to help existing and potential customers. When you create a resource you are not only creating more value for your site, but you are more likely to get people to link to your content, the resource you created (as opposed to an ad).   

Consider coming up with content marketing solutions that will help you create a steady flow of compelling content that your audience will want to read and share.   

Inbound Marketing Step 3: Promote Your Content

The internet is vast, and so making your site, content, products, and services easy to find is extremely important.  A well-executed SEO strategy is absolutely essential to making your site easier for people to find.   

Unlike pay-per-click, display or other forms of online advertising, perhaps the greatest advantage of inbound marketing is that promoting your content can be relatively inexpensive.  Because social media is increasingly joined at the hip with SEO, promoting and cross-posting your content to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linked In, etc., will cost you time and effort, but it will help you create more awareness not only around your content or site, but for your brand as well.  

Inbound Marketing Step 4: Communicate with Your Readers Directly

Not only does participating in and promoting on social media sites improve the SEO for your site, but social media is designed specifically to make it easier for businesses to communicate directly with their customers.  If a customer takes the time to reach out to you (in either a positive or negative way), it is important that you take the time to respond.  

No matter where a potential customer is contacting you (via email, Facebook, your site, etc.) it’s crucial that you respond to leads as soon as possible.  Customers want to know that you are not only listening to them, but that you are “listening” by acknowledging their comments and making suggested changes to your site or process to better serve their needs.  

Marketing on the internet works differently than via traditional media.  In traditional media channels brand awareness, product promotion are all done through big advertising campaigns that are designed around specific themes.  In order to create brand awareness online, you need to identify, find, engage, and communicate directly with your target audience, all of which can be done through an effective inbound marketing strategy.   

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