To understand the concept of inbound marketing, you must first understand what outbound marketing is. The reason I say that is because outbound marketing is what most companies spend their advertising budget on today.
Outbound marketing is telemarketing. It’s sending direct mail, it’s TV commercials, it’s pre-roll advertising (the 10 second ad you can’t skip before the video starts), it’s magazine ads, newspaper ads, and billboards.
Outbound marketing is what many companies still chose to spend their advertising dollars on despite a growing demand for information, the key ingredient of inbound marketing.
When companies like TiVo are highly successful, that should be an indicator that customers don’t like the intrusive nature of outbound marketing.
Outbound is fading fast, people are finding better ways to spend their time, and this is primarily because the internet is self serve. Just about anything that exists can be found in fractions of a second thanks to search engines. So instead of companies standing in the way of what people want they have to learn how to step aside but still be noticed.
Here is a simple way to grasp inbound marketing. Suppose you own a car dealership, and every day 10-15 people call you up and ask “can I use synthetic oil if my car has conventional oil in it right now”?
An inbound marketing solution would be to create a blog post, or a page on your website that answers that exact question in detail. Your dealership will have made a positive impact on anyone who finds your site looking for answers to that question.
In addition, the chances are much much greater that someone will share your post, and in doing so your site will become more valuable to search engines thus sending you more organic search traffic.
That strategy is much different that buying keywords like “synthetic vs conventional oil” and pointing it to your service department page. For one thing, you won’t get a very high quality score if the page doesn’t offer information about synthetic vs conventional oil, and the chances someone will ever share your service department page with their friends is slim to none.
Inbound marketing takes much more thought and creativity, but it can bring a lot of value when combined with other SEO best practices. If there were ever a time to consider shifting some of the budget towards inbound marketing, now would be the time because it’s much easier to dominate when your competitors haven’t yet figured it out, than to wait and try to out rank them after they’ve started to create valuable content.
In addition, car dealers that create this type of content should reach out for a little love from the manufacturer’s who should be willing to share links to quality information with their audience. This will also help the manufacturer illustrate to prospective buyers that they support and encourage this type of marketing in favor of the outbound type.
Inbound Marketing Is SEO
The fundamentals of any SEO campaign is to publish valuable content, that helps people understand concepts and/or how they relate to a particular query. Search engines are built to index information and to make it readily accessible when someone is looking for it. They rely on links, and not necessarily the amount of links, but the quality of them in particular.
If a website that contains unique and high quality content, links to another website using keywords in the anchor text, it’s sending a signal to Google that this site should help explain and/or offer additional information related to the keyword.
The more high quality links, high quality unique content, and a mix of other indicators not fully made public, determines how high up in Google a site should be ranked.
So to practice good SEO, a site must have good content. This will attract people to link to it.
So high quality content, is one of, but not the only, inbound marketing strategy.
What other types of inbound marketing strategies exist? Share your ideas in the comments, and check out recent posts like this one from SEOmoz about inbound marketing and the definition / branding of SEO.
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