INBOUND MARKETING. should do online. Put up a website? Google Adwords? Facebook Ads? Both? Something else?

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2 INBOUND MARKETING Digitally marketing a product or service can get complicated. Before digital came along things seemed easier. Consider a farmer s market: a farmer has a product and displays it on a table where buyers can walk by and purchase the product if they want. It s a simplified example, but the traditional methods of marketing for products like this are fairly straightforward. You make a banner, put up a table and display what you have for sale. But consider what the farmer Background There is reason to question whether some forms of advertising have ever produced positive value relative to the cost. Regardless of the quality of design, a billboard advertisement on the side of the road can easily go unnoticed. Spending money on mass media marketing is akin to throwing a pot of pasta at the wall and seeing what sticks. While some most certainly will, predicting the results is almost impossible. When you consider this, alongside the fact that consumers have increasingly found ways to ignore When it comes to dealing with digital marketing of products and services, it can get complicated. How do you let customers know you exist, and how do you attract the right customers what do you do to prove that your stuff is worth buying? should do online. Put up a website? Google Adwords? Facebook Ads? Both? Something else? Enter inbound marketing, a strategy that gives you the tools to help you connect to real customers and keep them interested. It s a great way to compliment or even replace traditional marketing efforts, increase conversion rates online and grow two-way communication with your customer base. traditional media channel advertisements, there is compelling reason to look for new ways to attract customers. On Television, digital video recorders have made it possible to fast forward or entirely skip commercials, satellite radio and podcasting mean that users can access audio content without traditional advertising, people increasingly turn to online sources for news and reading. In this new world, spending money on traditional ads can be extremely frustrating. Even internet banner advertising, which once produced significant click through results, are often largely ignored by web browsers. We ve trained ourselves to recognize ads in every 2

3 medium and to find ways to avoid them while still getting to the content that we want. brand. At this point, it is not too much to ask for an address in order to provide additional access, for example to download a white paper after reading a summary. Now you have a highly qualified lead, someone that you know has already reviewed your information and expressed a specific interest. This is a much easier starting point towards making a sale then someone who may have seen a TV ad or heard a radio spot. You even have a means of reaching out to the prospect directly to nurture the lead, convert that prospect to a customer, analyze the process and then improve on it for future prospects. Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don t know which half. - John Wanamaker, US department store merchant ( ) In order to combat this shift in user behaviour, businesses have to look at new ways of getting their message, their product, their services, in front of prospective customers. This is where the whole idea of Inbound Marketing comes from. It is built on the concept of earning the attention of potential customers rather than attempting to buy their attention. Businesses must provide something of value to the prospect, something they are not getting from a competing business in the same space. It is about recognizing that even in a category of product or service where the end result is largely the same regardless of the supplier, the process and experience can make all the difference in who will be selected to do the work. You want the prospect to select you. So what is the something of value? During the buying process, prospects are looking for information. The opportunity is to provide them with access to that information, provided for free, by your company. This could be in the form of blog articles, video content, white papers, podcasts, newsletters, the list goes on. Of course for there to be value for you as well as the customer, you need to introduce means of capturing information from prospects who are viewing the content you ve provided. The crux of it all is to gain qualified leads. This is still marketing after all, we are still ultimately trying to sell something. As prospects review your information, they are engaged in what you ve provided, they are establishing a connection to your company and What does this mean for you Aside from the generation of new leads, an effective inbound marketing strategy has other benefits for your organization. First off, reducing spend on less effective means of advertising. This isn t to suggest that your overall marketing expenses will go down, re-allocating a portion of your budget to support inbound marketing or social media tactics is a better idea. The cost per lead associated with inbound marketing is typically lower than with other traditional media channels. So effectively you get more leads for the same dollars. Another huge benefit of building your inbound marketing strategy is that positions you as an expert in your space. Whereas a traditional marketing campaign may only last a few months and potentially have a short residual period where a few leads 3

4 continue to trickle in, the content you develop as part of your inbound efforts resides online, connected to your brand, for as long as you choose to make it available. Over time, as you focus in on the specific keywords that are right for your business, you will start to show up higher and higher in search results and potential customers will see that you are a credible source of information. Even if you only really focus on your strategy for a short period of time, the residual effect would be to improve your search Inbound Marketing is not a silver bullet solution that will magically slay your marketing woes and bring the masses to your door, clamouring for your product or service. An effective strategy will require time to plan, execute and iterate upon. Developing content can be challenging and takes time and focus, not only for the actual writing, but in determining what to write about. Managing conversations on social media channels means you have to set parameters and manage expectations of when you will be available to talk with people. You need to have tools and policies in place to help staff know how to deal with situations where someone is saying things about you online that you might not agree with. Besides just talking to those who are looking to interact with you directly, it is necessary to find ways to develop your online listening skills so you can really understand the environment that you re in online and find those individuals who may be looking for you, but just don t know it yet. Be prepared for success, but be prepared for work as well. Becoming an online leader in your area of focus is not going to be easy. Leaders aren t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that s the price we ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal. - Vince Lombardi rankings, meaning new qualified traffic to your site long beyond the time that you stop. Of course we don t advocate stopping, in fact once you start with an inbound marketing strategy and start to see results you ll probably want to do even more. Getting Started Getting your inbound marketing strategy off the ground is just like learning to walk, it starts by taking the first step, and then the next. As you go, you may stumble here and there, but over the course of time, your level of comfort will increase and eventually you ll be running and it will be second nature. So what is that first step? There s a good chance you re already doing some of the things you need in order to get started, but if not, that s okay. Here are a few of the questions to consider as you start planning for your inbound marketing plan. Who is your ideal target audience? Who do you really want to reach with your message? What can you create and then give away that would be valuable and compelling to that audience? 4

5 What is the ideal channel for you to share your content with that audience? How can you capture contact information from prospects in exchange for the value they are receiving from you? As you work through these questions there are decisions to be made not only with respect to what form your content will take, but also how you will help prospects to find that content. A solid keyword analysis at the beginning is a good starting place towards ensuring the content you build also helps to build your search ranking for the right keywords and phrases. Looking for opportunities to interact and participate in conversations on various social media channels where you can add value is a great way to build some credibility and attract traffic back to your website and other online properties. Establishing a publishing schedule based on the staff resources you have available, then following that is important to establishing expectations and instilling a sense of confidence that you not only know what you re talking about, but are a reliable source of ongoing information. LINKS & Resources ll-ever-read/ bid/2989/inbound-marketing-vs-outbound-marketing.aspx Remember, inboung marketing presents a great oportunity, but it is still work. Although it is much less intrusive and brash than some traditional forms of marketing, it is still marketing. Ultimately you are looking to connect with prospects and then convert them into customers by selling them something. Whether you re a non-profit looking to raise funds for a noble cause, a startup looking to grow a user base (paid or not), or a business selling a physical product, it s all about selling what you do and that you do it best. Need help establising an inbound marketing or digital communications strategy. Drop us a line, we d love to hear from you and see how we can work with you to achieve your goals and objectives online. Just send an to or visit 5

6 INTRO TO INBOUND MARKETING By Thorren Koopmans Lift Interactive VISIT WEBSITE get in touch

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