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What is Inbound Marketing?

As marketing budgets are stripped back to the core in many small businesses, the emerging concept of inbound marketing has never been so important. Inbound marketing relies on the creation of valuable content which attracts the attention of potential customers, draws them to a company website and then lures them back at regular intervals at no additional cost other than time and the imparting of industry expertise.

The promotional mediums used for inbound marketing are company blogs, posted videos, e-newsletters, search engine optimisation, social media, pod casts and electronic white papers and eBooks. In fact anything that offers the potential customer or visitor to the site some valuable information in exchange for their continued interest. If the visitor to the website likes what they read, learns from the information or is entertained by the content, they will return time and time again of their own free will.

In contrast to inbound marketing, the more traditional ‘outbound marketing’ methods which rely on buying attention as opposed to earning it, are slowly becoming obsolete. The costs involved in the design and production of sales flyers, direct marketing publications, above and below the line advertising, press releases, telemarketing, email marketing, sales calls make these more traditional marketing methods prohibitive.

Inbound marketing is very similar to the concept of permission marketing where a company requests the permission of the potential customers before sending them electronic newsletters or special offers etc. The process of signing up to the site or enquiring via a search engine implies that permission has been granted. Inbound marketing is considered more financially efficient for smaller businesses, as information is only sent to people who have shown an active interest in the website. It allows for a targeted rather than a scatter gun approach to marketing, therefore better use is made of the resources.

Inbound marketing is extremely effective for small businesses which deal with high value products or services with an element of perceived risk, which can be reduced by research and the gathering of additional knowledge. Potential clients will have already researched the market and found the company themselves, so they are open to accepting the sales pitch and will be more likely to respond to a companywho is seen to be the expert in the field.

For inbound marketing to succeed it ideally has to progress through the following five stages:

1.    Attract traffic (by being found in search engines, or social media etc)

2.    Convert visitors to leads (by persuasion and the demonstration of perceived expertise)

3.    Convert leads to sales (by developing confidence and building trust)

4.    Turn customers into repeat higher margin customers (through excellent customer service)

5.    Analyse for continuous improvement (continuous feedback through analytics etc)

Inbound marketing can be used simply to attract traffic to a website, or it can be used at a more complex level to target potential customers at various stages in the buying decision or at particular stages of product awareness. Experienced inbound marketers gradually build up product awareness over time, ready to entice a sale at the most appropriate time, when interest and trust levels are high.

Of course the most important element of an inbound marketing campaign is the company website, which needs to be fully optimised for organic searches and must offer good quality, regularly updated content to secure the interest of the potential customers, and keep them returning of their own free will.

If you need help with your digital marketing strategy or implementation, Dynumo is ready to help. Drop us an email at superman@dynumo.com or call us on 0845 689 1230.

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