Inbound marketing is a term that was coined in 2005, to encompass a variety of marketing tools which help make your business easy to found by potential customers. Historically, the only marketing tools available to companies looking for new clients or customers was through paid advertising on media networks. Anyone who wanted to reach a large audience purchased ad space in print media, TV, radio, billboards, etc. Other traditional marketing tools include making cold calls, sending out direct paper mail advertising materials, posting flyers, press release submissions, and more recently, sending spam emails. The downside to this form of marketing was there was a lot of wasted dollars since these forms of advertising didn’t offer much ability to target your ideal customer.
The idea behind inbound marketing is that a company can actually pull the interest of people who are looking for the services or products the company offers. Broad marketing campaigns cost a lot of money and target everyone in the hopes that some of those people are actually the target market. Inbound marketing tools bring the company to the attention of clients in a more inclusive manner, targeting the right clients and providing something in return for the attention of the customer.
4 Essential Inbound Marketing Tools
These days, most businesses already use inbound marketing tools because they are considered to be the least expensive but most effective marketing tools out there. They can be divided into four categories.
1. Social Media
Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, FourSquare, Pinterest and LinkedIn all offer opportunities to engage users and keep them involved with a business. The marketing opportunities are pretty obvious, but first the company must entice consumers to connect, which means that the target audience has the choice to engage with your business or brand. Keep this in mind when practicing inbound marketing. You need to create content that your audience will find useful.
A blog offers readers something in return for the attention of a self-selecting target audience. Great content will bring back loyal customers again and again, which means they will build a relationship to the blogger and the company behind the blog. This relationship is a great way to create brand loyalty and remind likely customers of the company on a regular basis.
Blogging on your business site is also a great way to showcase your company’s expertise. Customers will be more likely to purchase from a business that they feel knows their stuff.
Your blog should serve the centerpiece of your inbound marketing strategy. It is where you can focus the use of the all the other available inbound marketing tools and media. They also give a company or business a home base for connecting with clients and a way to drive those potential customers from your other inbound marketing tools to your website.
3. Content Marketing
Content marketing is a more in depth consideration of the tools that provide content that the customer wants to engage with. Using a variety of content marketing media can bring customers back time and time again. A few types of content marketing strategies to consider and networks to submit them to are…
- Videos – YouTube, Vimeo
- Images – Instagram, Flickr
- Infographics – Pinterest, Visual.ly
- Whitepapers/Documents – Scribd.com, Docstoc.com
- Slide shows – Slideshare.net, slidesnack.com
- Text content – on-site blogs and guest blogging.
4. Online Advertising
Online advertising is considered to be inbound marketing because of the way the audience can be targeted using keywords and the online tools available. Tools like Google Adwords, Twitter, Facebook, and AdRoll ensure that the right audience is seeing your ads. This kind of focused advertising uses the interests of the client to attract the right ads, gaining the kind of attention that a business wants.
There are many inbound marketing tools that can help you create a successful and targeted inbound marketing strategy which is critical to the success of modern businesses.