Writing by Nick Stamoulis in Inbound Marketing
Consumers are hit with thousands of marketing messages each day, both online and off, and it’s exceptionally hard for any one brand to break through that clutter. I might drive by a billboard advertising a nearby jewelry store every day on my way to work for 6 months, but if I’m not looking to buy jewelry any time soon chances are I won’t remember that store or their messaging. Sure, someone might see and make note of the billboard, but unless they get off the highway and actually purchase something was their noticing that company’s message really worth anything?
Inbound marketing, as opposed to traditional advertising that interrupts a consumer’s life and hopes they notice, is all about making sure your website is positioned well so that when a consumer is actually looking for information or ready to buy they find you. Having the greatest product in the world doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t connecting with your target audience when they need it. Inbound marketing helps ensure that when your audience is ready you are there.
Inbound marketing is comprised of three things – SEO, social media marketing and content marketing. Each one is extremely important and beneficial on its own, but combined the three strategies make for an even stronger online brand.
Let’s say someone was searching online for a local florist. SEO (both onsite optimization and offsite link building) is designed to help a website appear in the search results for someone looking for florist related searches like “Boston florist,” “Boston flower shops” or “flower delivery Boston.” It doesn’t do the florist any good if they show up in the search results when someone is looking for a local pet store (nor is that any good for the user or the search engine’s reputation), so white hat SEO helps ensure the search results are filled with the most relevant websites.
A florist can use also SEO to help the various internal pages of their website rank for related searches like “wedding flower arrangements” or “get well flowers;” searches that relate to the various products and services they offer. Someone looking for a “birthday bouquet” knows exactly what kind of flowers they are looking for and are probably looking to make a purchase soon. SEO, as part of a larger inbound marketing campaign, helps targeted visitors find the most relevant websites (which hopefully is yours) when they need them!
Social Media Marketing
Consumers don’t like to be “talked at” by brands. No one likes being told to buy, buy, buy! And so many consumers tune out traditional advertising and marketing messages that do this. However, since inbound marketing is about helping customers come to you when they are ready, social media marketing is a critical component of any inbound marketing strategy. Customers can connect with any brand at any time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+. They can post questions, ask their friends for reviews and opinions, see the brand’s personality and (hopefully) build a rapport and trust with that company. Social media marketing puts the power of the relationship in the hands of the consumer—they can choose to follow or not follow your brand as they please. And while there isn’t always a direct line between a social media connection and the end sale, having a social presence can definitely influence your bottom line. You want your brand to have open and honest lines of communication with your target audience so they can come to you when they’re ready.
Content marketing is all about becoming a resource for your audience. When they do have a question, problem or concern they need answered chances are they are going to turn to the Internet to do their research. Everything from learning how to tie a tie, what to do in Boston on a rainy day, or can dogs eat blueberries—they are looking for answers online. A strong content marketing campaign, usually built around a company blog, lets you answers your audience’s questions when they need answers. For many companies, a piece of content like a blog, video or article is the first touch point they will have with a new customer. Once that touch point has been established you have a much better chance of staying top of mind.