All Aboard for Inbound Marketing
by Andrew MIllar
This Train is Leaving the Station!
Inbound marketing is a new phenomenon in the world of business. It has crept up on us over the past several years and is now taking over marketing by storm. Wait a minute, you say, I have hardly heard about it, how can it be so prevalent? In order to answer that question, let’s step back and take note of the biggest change in communication (and, therefore, business) in modern life: the internet and the web.
As has been noted elsewhere, the web has revolutionized the way we communicate as significantly as the printing press did in 1440. As About.com notes: The Gutenburg Press can be credited not only for a revolution in the production of books, but also for fostering rapid development in the sciences, arts and religion through the transmission of texts. Think for a minute how the internet has ‘fostered the rapid development of the sciences, art and religion through the transmission of texts.’ Okay, maybe not religion but you get the point.
Enter Inbound Marketing!
So here we are in the midst of this fantastic moment in history, this Age of Information. What’s this got to do with the business of the day? Everything. Our customers search for us via the internet. More specifically, they look for our goods and services. How do we make sure they find us? Enter Inbound Marketing!
If traditional marketing can be characterized as Outbound Marketing (flyers, mailings, billboards, print ads, etc.), then Inbound Marketing is making information about our goods and services available to potential customers who are looking for it. We accomplish this through a whole series of tools with new names but traditional uses. Let’s start with blogs. It’s a new name for articles or opinion pieces written for the internet to educate your prospects about their interests. Keywords and long tail keywords. Once again taking a traditional function of research and applying it in the digital world we have Search Engine Optimization. We make sure we use the same vocabulary on our website that our prospects are using to find out about our goods and services.
In Inbound Marketing, the most critical juncture of your interaction with your prospect is when he alights on your website. The Nielsen Norman Group, in reporting evidence uncovered by Microsoft research, explains the importance of web page content: Because Web pages are indeed of highly variable quality. Users know this and spend their initial time on a page in ruthless triage to abandon the dross ASAP. It’s rare for people to linger on Web pages, but when users do decide that a page is valuable, they may stay for a bit.
Entertain, Educate and Engage
A sales process is a sales process. Technology doesn’t change it that much. If you think of your website like a storefront, once you get your prospective customer to come into the store, your job is to entertain, educate, and engage them. Good blog writing can point a prospect to a call-to-action, a location and a moment when you further engage him by offering value at no cost that you transmit via the internet. To accomplish this, he fills out a form (Landing Page) that, at the least, includes his email address. Bingo! You have started him down your sales funnel.
This initial free offering needs to educate him as to why he needs your product or service. If he does not buy now, your next solicitation (using his email which he willingly gave you) explains why he needs to buy from you. This is often called ‘lead nurturing.’ There is a science and a process that guides these steps. Hubspot is a leader in the field of Inbound Marketing and offers a technology platform that enables you to follow and evaluate your prospects each step of the way. As a Hubspot Partner, our clients have access to this information.
This Inbound Marketing train leaves the station on a regular schedule. Be wise and get your ticket early.