Inbound marketing is exactly what it sounds like. It is marketing that brings new leads to a business. There are as many ways to gain new leads, who will hopefully convert into new customers, as there are types of businesses. However, when it comes to inbound marketing for a website, there are a few tried and true methods that will give you fast results. This is particularly important if you have a new website, have seen traffic fall off, or perhaps simply want to grow your business.
In the world of marketing, many people see “inbound” as the modern marketing and “outbound” as old, tired marketing methods, such as print ads. While print ads have their place, when it comes to your website, there are many inbound and interactive methods that will work much better to grow your site visitors.
Why Inbound Marketing?
According to a report by HubSpot titled The State of Inbound Marketing in 2012:
“SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate, while outbound sourced leads have a 1.7% close rate.”
In an infographic released by Voltier Digital, these numbers show success both for Business to Consumer (B2C) conversions as well as Business to Business (B2B) conversions. The graphic shows that 67% of B2C and 41% of B2B have gotten a new customer by interacting on Facebook and more than 50% have gotten a customer because of someone following their blog.
Types of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing tends to be more interactive than outbound marketing. It also tends to cost less than outbound marketing. Leichtman Research indicates that inbound marketing costs as much as 62% less than traditional marketing methods.
Creating a blog, especially if you already have an existing website, costs you very little money. You will have to invest some time and create unique and interesting content for your readers. According to Voltier, 57% of companies report that they’ve gained new customers as a direct result of hosting a blog.
2. White Papers
Customers have indicated that they like white papers, as long as the information is authoritative and easy to read. Stay away from long, lengthy information sources. Instead, focus on just what the customer needs to know to perform a specific task or decide if they need your product or service.
3. Social Media
If your company doesn’t yet have a social media presence, take the time to create one. Set up a page for your company on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. There are others out there, and depending on your business, you may need to join a book club or forum as well. However, these three are a good place for the beginner to start or perfect marketing methods. Once you’ve set up your social media accounts, ask friends, family and current customer to like the page and to tell their friends about it. You can update your social media pages with the most interesting and witty quotes than anyone ever created, but if you don’t have followers it won’t do you a bit of good. Once you have these platforms set up, use a service like HootSuite to schedule and automate your posts for maximum impact.
4. Viral Videos
YouTube is a popular platform and if you create a video that people think is cute or funny, it can go viral in a matter of hours, driving massive amounts of traffic to your website. Have a cat in your home office who acts a little crazy sometimes? People love cats. Videotape her and introduce her as your office cat. Put the company website at the end of the video and upload to YouTube.
Even though funny and cut works, you can also offer short videos that show off your expertise. If you sell pots and pans, offer a cooking show or kitchen tips series of videos. If you run a parenting site, offer videos like how to burp your baby or enforcing time outs with your toddler.
5. RSS Feeds
Remember that no matter what else you do on your site, content is always king. If you add regular, interesting content, then you will gain subscribers over time. Let your customers know when you’ve posted something new by allowing them to subscribe to your RSS feed or a newsletter. A newsletter is perfect because it also allows you to gather e-mail addresses and you can let them know the new article is up and about any specials you have going on. Just don’t overdo it. The reader may just want information at this point and talking about sales or product all the time can seem spammy and be a turn off. Seek first to educate your readers and eventually this will convert into sales figures for your site.
Convert These Visitors Into Leads and Sales
Now, you may be thinking, “So what? I don’t care if I get a million visitors a day if they aren’t buying anything.”
Getting the people to visit your site is half the battle, but there are some techniques you’ll want to implement to turn those visitors into leads and leads into customers.
1. Tell Your Customers the Next Step
One area where I see a lot of sites fail in generating leads is that they don’t tell the customer what to do after he lands on the page. Let’s say you sell furnaces. You write an article about the importance of a high energy efficiency furnace and the money it can save consumers. If the landing page is the article, then why not offer a free report if they share their e-mail with you, such as “three models that are energy efficient”.
2. Offer Custom Advice
Another tactic to gain leads can be to offer some valuable one-on-one advice. Of course, how much of this you are able to offer depends on how busy your business currently is. However, if you can offer some one-on-one tips and advice to readers, this often results in a new customer. Using the example of the furnace, you could offer the following:
Having trouble with your furnace? Let our experts give you a free consultation on the best replacement for your current furnace based on your family’s specific needs.
The Ever Changing Marketer's Toolbox
The best thing you can do to ensure that your marketing efforts are successful is to keep your toolbox updated with new marketing methods. Listen to your customers. Ask them which marketing campaigns they liked the most and which ones they responded to the best. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals from your current customers. Don’t be scared to venture out and try new things, such as Slideshare or Pinterest to attract new customers.
One thing is certain when it comes to marketing. The Internet has forever changed the way businesses reach consumers. What worked yesterday doesn’t work today and what works today likely won’t work tomorrow. As a website owner, it is important that you adapt to the rapid shifts in the marketplace as the Internet continues to evolve and grow.