Ever feel like the job of acquiring and keeping customers is like some form of ‘black art’ that only the privileged few seem to have mastered?
You try committing both time and money to pay-per-click ads and social media marketing, but don’t see the results you’d like, nor do you get a return on the investment you’ve made.
So you revert to what used to work – direct mail and print ads. And it appears these don’t get the traction they once used to.
Then you start to wonder – how are you supposed to stand out and grow instead of just survive?
You think it’s impossible, but it’s not. You just need to have a simple plan that’s focused around one core strategy… inbound marketing.
What is inbound marketing?
In short, it’s any online marketing tactic that earns your target audience’s interest, rather than interrupting them (usually you pay good money to interrupt people with your message). Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that people are already interested in and searching for. Providing this content brings leads to your site, leads you can hopefully turn into sales.
Here’s an overview of the inbound process:
- Get found – incorporating keywords on your website and link building in the form of inbound links and third party endorsements.
- Convert – use of calls-to-action and landing pages to generate leads.
- Nurture – using email marketing to build relationships, increase loyalty and drive sales.
- Close – aligning sales and marketing around shared revenue goals.
Why inbound marketing works well for bloggers, soloists and small businesses
There are many well-documented benefits of inbound marketing – gaining a measurable return from your activity, building online reach, competing against rivals and generating more qualified leads at a lower cost per leads than traditional marketing.
But perhaps one of the biggest benefits is that it attracts customers based on how they search. By creating valuable content that directly answers pressing questions your audience is asking, you have a unique opportunity to pull people to your business, help them, provide value, demonstrate expertise and gain their trust.
The best bit for you as a small business owner is your size means you are going to be closer to your customers and therefore better positioned to understand their needs.
What do you need to do to get started?
The good news is you don’t have to start by completely rebuilding your website right away. You can start with a small campaign and then test, adapt and grow your inbound marketing activity over time.
If you do start small, you will need to make some changes to your website, to capture user interest (leads) through the use of functional forms and landing pages. But there are several easy-to-use affordable solutions that will get you started (hint, most email service providers offer these features).
The advantage of inbound marketing is that it follows a system, a step-by-step approach with content marketing at its core. It integrates all of your online marketing activity together so each has a place. You’ll know what to do when, who to do it with and how, thus delivering consistent online performance for your business.
Another big plus about inbound marketing is it levels the playing field. You no longer need millions of dollars to compete in order to build your brand and best of all, most of the tools are free, so it’s really low barrier to entry.
The very best thing about inbound marketing however?
It actually works!
Got questions about inbound marketing? Drop them in the comments below – I promise to respond promptly.