Inbound Marketing: How to Transform Your Website into a Lead Generation Machine
What Do We Mean by "Inbound Marketing"?
If you have dabbled in the area of internet marketing recently or if you have been at it for a while, there is a good possibility that you have heard or read the term "inbound marketing" whenever you were doing some research for a project. The practice of inbound marketing involves attracting or driving qualified sales leads (i.e. potential customers) to your business website. It is based on a concept or practice which includes:
- Earning a prospect's attention
- Making your website easily accessible
- Producing content that has value and attracts those potential customers
These forms of article or content marketing are viewed as inbound marketing techniques. It includes blogs, eBooks, newsletters, podcasts, SEO content, social media marketing, and whitepapers. Whitepapers are authoritative guides or reports that assist readers in making decisions, solving problems, or understanding issues.
The original inbound marketing concept has been described as a 3-phase process – getting found, converting leads, and analyzing results. The current description of the concept is comprised of 5 phases which include:
- attracting traffic
- converting website visitors to sales leads (or potential buyers)
- converting those sales leads into sales
- turning customers into repeat business and earning higher margins in the process
- analyzing to promote continuous process improvement
With more consumers turning to the internet everyday for information and retail shopping needs, the popularity of inbound marketing is rapidly becoming more popular and may eventually replace the concept of outbound marketing.
Comparing Inbound Marketing with Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing is the older, more traditional way in which companies promote the products or services they offer to consumers by sending an advertising message. These messages are sent out in a variety of advertising formats including electronic media or radio and TV ads. Print media or direct mail marketing and magazine or newspaper advertisements are also a form of outbound marketing. The problem with outbound marketing is threefold. The cost is high while the yield is low, it is easy to block some techniques, and ROI tracking is extremely difficult.
Conversely, companies that use inbound marketing receive a number of benefits. The key benefit is that you do not have to interrupt consumers with cold calls, commercials, and e-mails to gain their attention. If you have something of value to offer them, or if your products or services solve a problem for them, they will buy from you. Additionally, by designing and developing an informative, useful website and offering beneficial products and services, inbound marketing is an effective means for attracting potential buyers.
Successful Inbound Marketing Methods or Techniques
One of the key benefits of using internet marketing is that you do not need to use the older, more traditional forms of outbound to get through those consumer sales barriers that are difficult to overcome with cold calls and traditional advertising. Instead, there are numerous methods you can use to drive traffic to your website and convert those visitors to buyers. Here is a list of the most effective inbound marketing methods or techniques to be aware of:
- Distribute videos regarding your products or services
- Find similar websites and exchange hyperlinks or reciprocating links with one another
- Go viral with interviews, media appearances, and webinars
- Join an affiliate marketing site or design and develop your own in order to generate more sales using other people's efforts
- Market your business through social bookmarking, media, and networking
- Post brief content and links to your websites at blog and website forums
- Provide consumers with interesting and useful blog or web content
- Provide your clientele with the best customer service possible
- Re-purpose or re-write your web content and post it in multiple formats
- Submit your articles and/or web content to article submission sites and directories
Why is it Important to Use Inbound Marketing?
Those business owners that overlook the importance of inbound marketing and stick with the older, more traditional outbound marketing methods fail to realize how this puts the success of their internet business at risk. What they do not realize is that inbound marketing has become a very powerful and valuable tool for promoting any business. It isn't a case of having the wrong products or services nor is it a matter of keeping pace with the competition. It's based on the fact that consumers erect sales barriers to avoid being bothered.
And that is the main reason that inbound marketing is so important. As was mentioned above, inbound marketing enables businesses to overcome those barriers. However, there are certain mistakes that you do not want to make with your inbound marketing strategy. For instance, talk TO your potential buyers - do not talk AT them or DOWN to them. Never overwhelm them with information as they will get confused and not buy anything. Finally, remember that the average consumer wants to make a purchase. But they will turn their backs on you if you try to sell them.