It seems like all you hear about these days is inbound marketing.

How important it is.

How effective it is.

But you may have been left wondering, just what is it?

At the most basic level, if outbound marketing is a one way street, inbound marketing is a two way street.  Outbound marketing takes the form of more traditional methods of marketing, such as cold calls and print, TV, and radio advertising.  It’s generally any form of communication that flows from you to the consumer, but not the reverse.  It also tends to be focused on making a sale, not cultivating a relationship.  Consequently, people have grown wary of outbound marketing messages, and they are seen as pushy and intrusive.

From another perspective, if marketing was the world of online dating, the inbound marketer would have a descriptive, witty profile.  Dating prospects would be attracted to his honesty and easygoing manner.  Those that felt they’d be a good fit would email him, asking to learn more about him.  He’d respond in kind, keeping in contact until they were ready to go on a date.  If he was outbound marketing, he’d send a mass email to 30 women (before looking at their profiles), hoping that one might respond.

So inbound marketing focuses on putting great content out there to get your prospects to come to you, so you can then establish a continuing relationship.  It also enables you to tap into those interested parties that are looking for information, meaning you don’t lose leads because you tried to sell before they were ready to buy (i.e., you don’t propose on the first date).

Now, what constitutes inbound marketing?

Blogs, social media, company websites, SEO, and premium content (like ebooks, whitepapers, and infographics) all fall under the inbound marketing umbrella.

For example, you’re a landscaping company and someone types “plants that need less sunlight” into Google.  Your blog post on the best plants to put in shadier parts of a yard pops up.  They read it and see a suggestion for other content they might be interested in (here’s your call-to-action), and they click on that.  This leads them to a landing page that features various types of mulch and their benefits and offers a free idea ebook if they provide their email address (another CTA).  Voila! You have their contact information and they like you because you gave them lots of helpful information.  Now you can put them into your automated CRM system and nurture leads until they are ready to buy.

Another example:  Let’s say I am a fashion fanatic.  You tweeted about famous so-and-so’s gorgeous blouse (which you happen to have a bargain version of in stock), and included a link to your company website.  I click on the link and am delivered to a landing page featuring that blouse and other fashion forward tops…and commence my online shopping session.

A key component of inbound marketing is its focus on building customer relationships by attracting them to you.  Once you’ve gotten their contact information, we progress to the lead nurturing stage.  This is where we can use CRM automated systems (think set series of emails) to keep in touch with the potential customer by offering valuable and relevant content based on their expressed interests.  Messages are based on buyer personas, a.k.a. your ideal customers, and targeted accordingly.  You offer “content with legs”, walking them down the sales funnel until they reach the point when they are ready to buy. So, take advantage of inbound marketing practices and start building relationships today that will turn into revenue tomorrow!

About Small Screen Producer

Small Screen Producer is a full service, marketing firm located in Houston, Texas that specializes in online digital media marketing through a 4-step process. Step 1: WE PLAN a custom web presence strategy for your business through website design and development, mobile development, social media account creation and branding. STEP 2: We then POSITION your brand through Pay-Per-Click advertising and search engine optimize tactics that include on-page and off-page SEO that are Google and Bing approved. STEP 3: We then PROMOTE your brand using an Inbound marketing strategy or a content marketing strategy to help you accomplish your marketing goals. We do this through blogging, video production, infographics, call-to-actions, landing pages, and free educational offers. We help you build trust and rapport with your customer base. STEP 4: We then PROTECT your brand’s web presence with a reputation management program that monitors social media and on line reviews. Get started today with a free online marketing assessment of your company’s web presence. Your company deserves it.