Inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring website visitors IN by providing the information they are seeking, rather than going OUT and interrupting people with messages or ads in which they are not interested. Inbound is a process of aligning content and information with a prospect’s needs in a way that nurtures the relationship from site visitor to lead to customer.
Instead of using “old” outbound methods such as buying ads and sending email to purchased lists, or cold-calling prospects, inbound relies on quality content, online conversations and SEO to bring prospects to your website. You then build a relationship with these people over time by continuing to offer useful information and relevant insights to them.
In short, inbound marketing is a program of content creation that is:
- optimized on your website for SEO,
- individualized to prospect’s needs,
- responsive to what potential customers want, and
- delivers information (content) that helps them make better buying decisions through a variety of online, social media and email channels.
Information not advertising – relationships not “selling”
Customers are looking for solutions to their problems. And looking for ways to help them do their jobs better. They turn to the Internet for information, advice and recommendations from their peers on what works.
If a potential customer searches on “how to get better results in (insert your area of expertise here)”, will they find information related to your company or product’s business area in Google? Have you created the online content that helps people looking to solve a problem consider your product in their frame of reference?
If they’re searching, and you’re not there offering the information they need, where will they get that information? Probably from people who know less about your market that you do, and potentially from your competitors.
Creating this sort of “top of funnel” content is what makes the difference for inbound marketing – and for successful sales in today’s online world.
Inbound marketing isn’t just for consumer-facing companies. In fact, for many B2B companies, especially in what we often refer to as “high involvement” markets, long and complex sales cycles mean a lot of information must be exchanged with a prospect before a sale is made. This creates a perfect situation for inbound and content marketing to become effective