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No Junk Mail: Inbound Marketing

Article by Rob Lawson

Everyone would agree that marketing to your target audience is an integral part of building your business. Sounds simple enough, but when it comes to online marketing, the avenues are endless. New web applications and concepts are constantly being developed, and with the Internet ever evolving, some can get a little muddled in their advertising efforts and go about their marketing the wrong way.

Firstly, there are two major types of marketing – inbound and outbound. These are most easily defined by inbound being ‘permission’ and outbound being ‘interruption’. If you think about these two words, one has an obviously more generally positive connotation than the other, and in this lies the secret to successful online marketing – inbound marketing, that is, marketing that is done with some level of permission and is usually specific, is what works when you’re trying to reach out to that massive online audience at your fingertips.

Outbound is on the way out

Outbound marketing is that traditional form of advertising that we all grew up with and that still surrounds us today. In fact, this type of marketing to the masses is everywhere. We all know that we can’t walk down the street, open a magazine or switch on the television without seeing it, but advertisements accost us on escalator hand rails, inside golf holes, in public toilet cubicles, even on grocery registers. Every space deemed seeable to the public is strewn with advertising – and so it is no wonder that we have learnt to turn a blind eye to much of it; which herein lies the problem with outbound marketing. Not only do people grow annoyed by interruptive advertising, you are also less likely to find that one fish that wants what you’ve got if you throw a line out into the ocean.

Get found by the people that are looking

So what exactly does inbound marketing entail? In a nutshell, it is getting yourself or your business ‘found’ by people that are already out there searching for what you’re offering. Through the Internet, you have access to millions of people worldwide, so of course (with the right strategy) you’ll be able to find the group that is hunting for you. Inbound marketing also involves giving those potential customers what they want, in order to attract them to your business and brand.

Using digital media online is the surest way of successful inbound marketing. Social networking sites are great, as you not only establish your brand and place within the community, but attract those that are interested in what you have to sell or offer. And once those people are a part of your network, they are most likely there to stay, as long as you keep on giving them what they wanted in the first place. Take Facebook, for example. As people like what they see and join your Facebook group, or become your ‘friend’, you have a ready-made relationship with consumers that want exactly what you have. Pizza Hut, for example, has more than one million fans on Facebook – not only a testament to others of their popularity, but that is one million consumers that have a very high chance of consuming (pardon the pun) whatever new things Pizza Hut offers. That’s effective inbound marketing.

Two-way = double the results

It is generally accepted that people don’t like one-way communication on the Internet. With collaborative communication one of its greatest attractions, the World Wide Web has boundless opportunities for businesses to connect directly and personally with their customers, or would-be customers. Inbound marketing makes use of this in its two-way communication. Involving the consumer means the consumer feels good, and that’s what you want. That way, your customers stick with you. Nobody likes feeling as if they’re just a number. Say you’re walking along and see huge billboard. You may like what you see, but then you walk away and may very well forget what you saw. Compare this to an online medium such as a forum, where you see others talking about a particular product, see good reviews, read the company’s notes – you’re surely much more likely to get involved and become a customer, right?

Love the one you’re with

So the idea of inbound marketing is that you are reaching those that want to be reached. You have a better chance of building up a solid and long lasting relationship with the customer, so that when it comes to marketing, they don’t mind you ‘interrupting’ them every now and again with special offers and new products. You’d be quite willing to accept a call in the middle of a night from your mum or brother, because you’d assume it was important and necessary. Not so much if you didn’t recognize the number, though. The same works for marketing – being familiar with a consumer through two-way, online communication mediums means that your ‘call’ will be answered.

Perhaps you need to take a look at your current marketing strategy and see if there is enough inbound marketing. Remember, inbound marketing not only invites the customer ‘in’, building that relationship, but you become a bigger part of that person’s online life, and ultimately lead to more a higher conversion rate.

About the Author

Rob Lawson is a seasoned online marketer and the founder/CEO of iQuantum Pty Ltd. http://www.iquantum.com.au

His boutique consulting firm advises business owners on the potential of their online marketing, assisting them in the right technology solutions and suppliers.

iQuantum can value a market, identify opportunities and assist with the strategy implementation thereof to increase traffic, increase conversion and deliver a positive return on investments.

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