Whether you are a startup company or have been in business for years, the question that most likely replays in your mind is “How can I get & keep customers?” Even when business might be going good and steady, this remains a priority to ensure retaining existing customers and gain new clients. The answer to this question is found in the marketing efforts and strategies of your business. While there are numerous approaches, a key strategy to focus on in order to truly create a loyal audience is inbound marketing.
When a company decides to go into business, they are simultaneously accepting an inherent responsibility of marketing for their business as well. Though companies oftentimes understand and perform at least a basic level of marketing, it is important to constantly stay up to date with the latest marketing strategies and reassess whether adjustments in your marketing efforts are necessary. Constantly improving your marketing strategy helps you remain relevant and promote customer engagement, even in the downtimes that a sale or service is not occurring.
Over the past decade, businesses have shifted from traditional methods of marketing such as outbound advertising styles including cold-calls, print marketing, yellow pages, billboards, and direct mail. Marketing professionals have realized the influence of the Internet in our tech-geared society. This has naturally shifted the focus to marketing strategies predominantly online.
This evolution in marketing has lead to the creation of endless digital marketing strategies shifting away from pop-up ads & flashing banners to less intrusive marketing strategies to reach audiences where they are spending the most time. The demand of Internet users for more information and communities to share and exchange ideas gave way to a new marketing strategy called Inbound Marketing. Inbound marketing has changed the way that businesses reach their ideal customer.
In short, online marketing has gone from interruptive methods of advertising to inbound marketing strategies that organically producing a more natural connection with your audience by offering valuable content that is easy for them to find and consume on their terms. The consumer is in control of what they will consume when conducting research and engaging online and this is the premise of inbound marketing.
Simply put the term “inbound marketing” coined by HubSpot CEO, Brian Halligan Is described as “a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimization.”
It is a strategy with a number of approaches that attracts your customers to the information, products, and service they are looking for. There couldn’t be a more perfect marketing strategy for companies to stay in constant contact with their audiences.
With the ever-increasing popularity of social media websites and centralization of all the information one could ever need being available simply by an online search, the Internet has become a dominant source for entertainment, information, and community. In turn, the Internet has given us the opportunity to stay top of mind to our audience.
Inbound marketing increases online visibility and engagement. When you increase your visibility and engagement online then you in turn begin to attract prospective clients and this does a few things:
- You become a recognized and credible resource for valuable information
- You promote brand awareness and recognition
- You help people solve problems by providing answers to their questions while building reputability
- You generate leads that you can add to your sales prospecting pipeline
- You make people feel good about doing business with you by adding real value
In fact, although inbound marketing on the surface seems it is done with the intention to attract customers to a business to help increase profits, the reality is that inbound marketing efforts are more about helping real people solve real problems and foster a community they can always turn to. Inbound marketing is about relationships truly about helping people and being a resource to their needs.
Inbound marketing strategies are an effective opportunity for your audience to get to know you. If your business is producing valuable content to your audience that solves their problems, answers their questions, and makes them feel good, oftentimes, the decision making process is accelerated. As a result of this ongoing relationship, they will make their choice to go to you when they are ready long before they even need your services.
With Inbound marketing strategies you will be indexed based on the quality and quantity of original content you produce. If you make an effort to meet search engine required practices in the content you produce, your content will boost your credibility with search engine rankings. This means that when someone types in searches with keywords related to the content you produced, your higher ranking will make your content visible by placing it as one of the top choices in the results.
There are a number of strategies that you can implement to create an overall solid inbound marketing plan. The greatest part about all of the strategies is that they work hand in hand and when done right can help influence the other. So this means, you can also simultaneously be generating leads that could truly use your services at some point because they came to you first and you successfully caught their interest.
It will become apparent that all strategies pertaining to inbound marketing have a goal in common to provide content. Valuable, abundant, optimized content. Every effort is tied to giving your audience frequent content that will be pleasing or helpful to them in some way. Although there are numerous ways to do this, it is important to note this commonality.
Since there are so many strategies, if you are new to inbound marketing, it’s best to start out with the following 4 Core Elements of Inbound Marketing:
- Responsive Website
- Quality & Original Blog Content
- Social Media Content
- Search Engine Optimization
If you are at least making the most of the 4 mentioned areas, you’re off to a good start. You may already be doing some form of marketing, but don’t underestimate the importance of setting regular check-ins with yourself and your team to see how you can strengthen your strategy.
It’s nothing short of failure if you don’t focus on this. If you don’t have the time or the team bandwidth to give your marketing strategy the time it needs, hire a marketing agency. Digital marketing agencies are highly skilled experts designed for this purpose. Therefore, finding one that will be a good fit to serve as an extension of your team to handle the marketing for your business is worthwhile. By partnering with the right agency, you satisfy a key component to running an effective business, which can yield a great return on investment.
If you are in this to win, you MUST implement inbound marketing into your strategy. You’d be surprised what a world of wonder consistent marketing can do for your business. Just know that inbound marketing takes dedication, consistency, and sweat equity. If you stick with your plan relentlessly, the payoff is so worth it!