As an entrepreneur, your primary goal is to get customers to buy your products and services. Inbound marketing provides you with a low-cost means of getting found by customers. The idea is to take proactive steps to bring potential customers to you and motivate them to purchase your goods because of the quality content you provide. There are 3 primary types of inbound marketing: content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing (SMM).
Content marketing is the process of promoting your business through the distribution of information and resources that potential customers find valuable. It is based on the idea that sharing high-quality information with a particular market niche drives profitable consumer action. Content marketing allows you to demonstrate your expertise, build your brand, promote your business, help people and generate revenue. Some of the more popular forms of content marketing include website publications (e.g., tips, case studies and tools), newsletters, blogs, articles, white papers, books, eBooks, seminars, webinars, teleseminars and videos.
Search engine optimization is the systematic process of increasing the quality and volume of traffic to your website by improving the visibility of that site through various search engines. The objective is to apply a variety of proven SEO techniques (e.g., site content, incoming links, website title and heading tags) that will allow your webpage to achieve a higher ranking when certain keywords or phrases are entered in the search field of major search engines. For example, if you own a sporting goods store and someone types “sporting goods” in a search field, you want your website to appear on the first two pages of results. If you fail to appear on the first or second page, people are far less likely to find your site.
Social media marketing is the process of communicating your message to potential clients through participation in various electronic media such as LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. This happens by becoming an active member of one or more social networking communities. SMM provides some significant marketing advantages. It is very inexpensive as there is virtually no financial cost. It provides you with an opportunity to become an active and respected member in various social communities and it allows you to position yourself as an expert in your primary areas of interest. While it can be very time-consuming, many people enjoy spending time networking with their colleagues in the virtual world.
So how do you get started with inbound marketing? I suggest you answer two questions. First, what inbound marketing techniques are you using? For example, do you have a blog or a newsletter? Have you written any articles? Do you facilitate any live presentations such as seminars, clinics, or workshops? How about web-based presentations such as webinars? Have you taken any steps to optimize your website for higher search engine rankings? Do you participate in any social networking communities? Develop a clear picture of what you are doing.
Second, based on your answer to the first question, what’s the best place for you to start? For example, if you are already using several inbound marketing techniques, you can simply continue what you are doing, especially if you are getting positive results. If you aren’t using inbound marketing, identify one technique you would like to try. Perhaps you want to start a newsletter or a blog. You could facilitate presentations on your particular area of expertise (e.g., seminar or webinar), or you could join a social networking site such as LinkedIn and start building a network of associates. Whatever you choose, remember to be diligent and patient. Inbound marketing takes time to achieve success.