For a long time, the tried-and-true method of business promotions was outbound marketing. You'd cold call someone, or go door-to-door pitching your product or service. Today though, one of the best methods to sell products or services is through inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is all about attracting leads to you.
In this post we're going to talk about the five inbound marketing methods that work. Then I'll tell you how to decide what inbound marketing method is best for you.
The 5 pillars of inbound business promotion
You don’t actually have to go out and find customers — with inbound marketing, they find you! Here are five techniques you can use to bring more qualified leads to your business.
- Content marketing and landing pages.
- Search engine optimization (SEO).
- Email marketing.
- Social media marketing.
- Pay-per-click advertising.
Before we dive into your five options, let’s quickly explain the difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing.
Inbound vs. outbound — what’s the dif?
The difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing lies in how the customer hears about you. With outbound marketing, you tell the potential customer about your business via a cold call or unsolicited email — in short, you reach out to them without being asked.
With inbound marketing, people actually come to you. They're already qualified — in other words, actively interested — because they’ve shown interest in some fashion (signed up for a newsletter, requested a quote, etc.).
5 inbound marketing methods you should use
Now that we have a common understanding of what inbound marketing is, let's look at the key elements that go into a 360-degree inbound marketing strategy.
1. Content marketing and landing pages
With inbound marketing, content is king. By publishing content that potential customers find valuable, you draw them to your business.
Content marketing involves publishing any of the following:
- Written content such as blog and social posts
- Videos or tutorials
- Audio content
- Landing pages
Whatever you provide, it should position you as an expert in your field and help the visitor in some way. For example:
- An upholstery cleaning service might publish a YouTube video on how to protect furniture from stains
- A dentist could share a series of Facebook posts on how to encourage children to make a habit of caring for their teeth
Every piece of content you share should invite the reader/viewer to “click through for more information” or “sign up for our informational newsletters.”
Bridging the gap with landing pages
Most content marketing involves offering something of value for free and the same holds true for landing pages. You can see an example of a landing page at Philip Morgan Consulting. It includes a video that explains his concept of trust velocity in marketing.
At the bottom of the page, Philip asks visitors to sign up for his email list to get more information about generating leads for their businesses. This is known as a call-to-action, as it asks the visitor to take a specific action.
2. Search engine optimization (SEO)
SEO goes hand in hand with content marketing. For most small businesses, the traffic generated by a website that’s been optimized for search engines will dwarf any other channel for inbound traffic.
If you’re going to try only one inbound marketing strategy, start here.
SEO is a well-documented series of steps that will make your website or blog easier for Google to find and serve up to likely customers.
One of the platforms that provides the best out-of-the-box SEO right now is WordPress. All you do is add the Elevate or Yoast SEO plugin to perfect the SEO of your WordPress website or blog.
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3. Email marketing
Email marketing is one of the best ways to turn people who are interested in what you have to offer into paying customers.
By signing up for your email list, they're saying they're interested in the value you provide and are asking you to keep providing them value.
As you start building your email list, make sure that you look into how to segment your list properly so that you can maximize your response rates.
Editor’s note: Send out your first customer email in minutes with GoDaddy Email Marketing. Includes custom reports that show which emails get opened, clicked and shared most.
4. Social media marketing
Social media marketing is all about providing value to prospective customers via social media. That may mean sharing your own content, or reposting others’ content that you think your ideal client will find useful or entertaining.
You choose the social networks that work best for you.
If you're working in ladies fashion, then Pinterest or Instagram may be the best option. If you're targeting web programmers, then Reddit or Hacker News is likely a better place to focus your marketing efforts. The idea is to go wherever your customers spend time online.
5. Pay-per-click advertising
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) is a marketing tactic where you pay for an ad that sends specific users to your site. PPC marketing is available from many platforms including:
This is different than social media marketing, because you're paying for the ads instead of using your social media content to attract readers.
The only problem with PPC marketing is that as soon as you stop paying for ads, the leads stop coming in.
This doesn't happen with content marketing, because your content stays on your site. So people will continue to find it via search engines — even if you're not paying for the attention directed at you.
Where should you focus your attention?
The only question now is where you should focus your efforts. To figure that out, you first need to decide the single number that matters most to you. What do you really want the outcome to be — more leads, more sales?
When you're starting it's likely to be traffic to your website or blog.
Once you have some traffic and have started building an email list, focus on moving those people from casual leads into paying customers with regular informational emails.
Post and they will come
Most small business owners can find success by creating content first so that people have a reason to visit their websites. For many, this means starting a blog or mapping out a social media posting plan, complete with publish dates and topics.
Make sure that every single piece of content you share directs readers to your website for more tips and free advice.
Then get people to sign up for your email list by placing a signup form on your website home page. Once you have a reliably growing email list, start emailing helpful or entertaining advice and tips at regular intervals.
This strategy keeps on giving
While outbound marketing isn't dead, inbound marketing can provide long-term benefits that can’t be matched by outbound. Using content to provide value to customers means that, even if you take a bit of a break, the leads keep coming into your site. In this way, inbound marketing creates value for months and months — well beyond your initial investment of time or dollars.