In 2017, old methods of marketing are losing their punch. TV ads are less effective as more consumers skip ads. Nearly half of U.S. adults only have a cell phone, making them all but invisible to traditional approaches. And let’s not even talk about the “mail to trash” two-step most people do every morning!
In short, customers are tired of being “talked at” – and they have the power to stop it. To market in the new millennium, small businesses need a permission-based approach. Luckily, that approach has a name and many best practices to work with. It’s called inbound marketing.
Here’s how it’s different:
- Communication with customers is fully interactive and bidirectional;
- Customers come to you through search, referrals, or the social Web;
- Marketers add value throughout the entire relationship life-cycle;
- Marketers can entertain or educate their customers as they go.
Inbound marketing is all about the customers’ needs – the marketer comes second!
Here’s how you can get started with this powerful new paradigm:
Build a Web Content Strategy
Inbound marketing begins with a clear understanding of your prospects and their pain points. You need helpful, informative, and timely Web content to attract their attention. This starts with blog posts, but it can also include infographics, videos, whitepapers, case studies, and more.
Spark a Social Following
A consistent social media presence provides two benefits. First, it amplifies your content so more people will see it. Second, it creates endless opportunities to interact directly with people who are interested in your area of expertise. Meaningful interactions launch relationships!
Get Prospects on Your Radar
Inbound marketing isn’t just about traffic. That only produces business value when prospects convert for the first time. You win that conversion by offering content they need in exchange for joining your email list, where you can further showcase your insights.
Nurture Those Relationships Using Email
Most people aren’t prepared to buy from you right away. It may be weeks or even months before they finish their research process. Throughout that time, you need to continue building trust. That comes from recognizing prospects’ needs and continuing to add value for them over time.
Without each of these factors working together, inbound marketing won’t produce the results you want. That can sound intimidating, but it also points to one of the method’s greatest strengths: Once you’ve laid out all four elements, they keep working for you with little future effort.
For example, content can continue attracting visitors for years after it’s written. A good email sequence can cultivate prospects into buyers just as long – you only need to write it once. What’s the biggest challenge in inbound? Getting started! The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll benefit.