02 May

Inbound Internet Marketing

There does not seem to be an end in sight for the information age.  The internet exploded onto the scene, evolved and has now taken over every imaginable marketing medium to the point where most of them are becoming irrelevant. A wise man once said: “If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevancy even less.”

Today’s audiences are tough and bored out of their socks at the slightest hint that advertising is old-fashioned or condescending.  The main reason being – they have the information at their fingertips.  According to our friends at Google, more than 66% of keyword searches take place via mobile devices.  Your potential customers are empowered with the information of your products, your services and that of your competitors.  They will use it to their advantage and go with the company that has earned their interest.  The simple truth is – “Telling and selling” is no longer the answer. Companies have shifted their mindset and are now focused on building relationships, trust and credibility.

Inbound marketing is a tactic that relies “on earning people’s interest” instead of buying it.  It is a tactic used by most modern day companies to target their markets.  These companies have adopted a “farming mentality” by generously providing their markets with enough information and assistance to make an in form decision, thereby increasing their credibility and profitability.

The most obvious and practical medium to provide our customers with information is the internet.  Companies use the internet to make information available to their potential customers and then campaign to give clear directions to those sources.

The average company budget spent on blogging and social media has increased dramatically over the past few years.  With every 1 out of 8 minutes online spent on Facebook, it is hardly a surprise.  Companies are sensitive to the needs of their customers, sharing information generously and reaping the rewards of modern day network marketing.  By earning their customer’s interest within a vast but selected public network, they have increased their visibility and credibility. “Helpful is the new viral.”

One of the key factors when rating and ranking a website for search engines is its information relevance and abundance.  It is no secret why organisational websites like Wikipedia rank high on search engines.  They normally contain plenty of useful information. By having a website or a blog that is well optimized for search engines and filled with relevant information, companies serve the public while increasing the rating of their internet presence.  An increased rating on search engines result in a further increase in visibility and credibility.  The same principle is true for a company’s social media pages and its effectiveness increased even more if the platforms are inter-linked.  A popular way of doing this is to add “like” buttons and Facebook widgets to the company’s website that link back to their social pages.

Companies are using their websites and social platforms to build relationships with their customers and not only to attract new customers.  Many companies are opting for regular newsletters that are sent out to subscribed customers.  This strategy adds great value as an inbound marketing tactic.  Once again the customer receives helpful information that might assist them in their decision making.  These newsletters are not focused on selling the company, but contain valuable information about the industry and helpful hints and tips that could aid the customer, thus building a relationship with them and earning their interest.  It is important to note that customers should voluntarily subscribe and unsubscribe to these newsletters. Spamming customers defeats the purpose and spirit of Inbound Marketing.

With all their information platforms in place and their newsletters going out regularly, companies need to drive traffic to their information.  There are a number of basic things that every company should do, like having a link to their social media page and website from their e-mail signatures, business cards and other stationery.  Nothing beats a sound keyword marketing campaign to drive traffic to pinpoint locations in your online presence.

Keyword campaigns on social media platforms and search engines serve two purposes.  The obvious one is that it drives controlled traffic to very specific online locations.  It is controlled, because the company can set the target demographics, the target devices, i.e. cell phones, desktops and very specific search phrases.  They are virtually guaranteed qualified inbound leads.

More importantly, keyword campaigns are measureable and a controlled keyword campaign provides very valuable, factual data about the company’s online target market.  This data can then be used in the company’s efforts to continually improve the relationship with their customers.  Who wouldn’t like to know what specifically a customer was looking for, where and when they where looking for it and how often?  If we knew that, we would know what the next post on our social media page would be.  We would know the subject of the next article in our newsletter.  We would know how important catering for mobile devices in our industry is.  We would have the knowledge to capture the interest of potential customers online and then nurture a relationship that is based on what customers are interested in.

Statistically, companies that blog, drive 55% more traffic to their websites.  Consumers yearn for information and they are grateful to those that provide them with it.  So grateful, it seems that it invigorates a sense of loyalty towards the provider of useful information.  That is exactly why word-of-mouth, networking and social media has transformed the way companies do business.  Companies all over the world are adapting to this age old marketing principle of building relationships.  It used to be one of many, but it is fast becoming the only way to do business and the internet is the most economical and logical platform to launch it from.

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