In this article, we are looking at how technological progress ushered in the era of Inbound Marketing. Let’s get started…
Well, who doesn’t want their business to be a success? We all do. And I must admit that it is a lot easier today than how it was back in the days when there was no internet.
And if you think about it, it is not that far back when the Internet came into existence. According to this Wikipedia article, it was somewhere around 1990s that the Internet started to become a reality.
And already we have technologically progressed so much, that we cannot think of our lives without our Machines, Search Engines & Social Media platforms. We have grown accustomed to them. And for many, it is nothing short of addiction.
We have access to all the information of the world at our fingertips today. Whatever you want to know, you can simply Google it, or ask using your voice command.
And the search engines do a very decent job of fetching that information for you in real time, with great accuracy and relevancy too.
How has technology impacted marketing over the years
So naturally, businesses have evolved to take advantage of the change that has taken place since. Technology has impacted people’s lives in such a dramatic way, that we think of the pre-internet era as primitive. Which it is, by today’s standards. And technology continues to change at an exponential pace as we speak.
Looking at it from a marketing perspective, businesses are starting to realize the importance of shifting from Outbound to Inbound marketing.
Image Credit: Pixabay
Outbound marketing is basically the old traditional way of finding customers for your business. This traditional method involves reaching out to potential customers in a disruptive manner.
It could be in the form of unsolicited calls & emails. Direct marketing would be another example. Traditional advertising through Newspapers, TV, Radio, Billboards are all forms of Outbound marketing.
Outbound marketing is basically where you reach out to a target potential customer base and hope that some of them would get interested in the product or services that your company offers.
Outbound marketing essentially would be all forms of advertising where you are invading the personal space of the customer. And that is why it is disruptive in nature.
It is also expensive, and the ROI is lower when compared with Inbound marketing.
For startups and smaller businesses, it has never been easy to use these traditional outbound methods on a long-term basis to grow their business, because of the higher expenses involved in this marketing technique.
But unfortunately, in the pre-internet era, this was the only mode of advertising available to businesses. Big businesses can take advantage of both types of marketing as they have larger amounts of funds.
Let’s look at Inbound Marketing now.
Image Credit: Pixabay
As technology has progressed over time, we have shifted from a period based on an industry fuelled by the industrial revolution to an economy based on information. So, essentially, we are living in an information age now.
We are drowning in Information, and it is doubling at a faster rate than ever. And it is this vast availability of information and its easy accessibility, that has shifted the momentum from Outbound to Inbound marketing for many businesses.
With search engine giants like Google, it is now easier to find information than ever. Google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day. Which translates to around 40,000 searches every second.
So, people are thirsty for knowledge and they are seeking out answers.
Businesses realized that this could be used to one’s advantage by creating content that relates to their business, particularly on topics that have a high search volume. Another way to put it is to create content that your potential customers are searching for.
The information is the bait here. People search online for a resolution to their concerns & pain points. You have written an article that answers their queries. They find your article in online searches and lands on your site. They not only find the answer to their query but also gets acquainted with your brand, business, products & services.
You could then use forms, chats, surveys, feedback, newsletter signup etc. to capture their contact details, and eventually turn that visitor into a long-term happy customer.
Instead of going after the customer, you create information through which potential customers are attracted to your site. So, instead of chasing customers now, you are attracting customers to your business through content creation.
And that is what Inbound marketing is all about.
Is Inbound Marketing different from SEO?
Basically, the term “Inbound Marketing” is said to have been coined by HubSpot in 2006. It is around that time that Inbound Marketing also started picking up.
Inbound Marketing is synonymous with SEO. Both use the same techniques and strategies to attract customers to their site. Sometimes I cannot see a difference between the two.
Perhaps, SEO is concerned only up to the point of attracting customers to your website. And Inbound Marketing goes further to convert, retain & delight them as customers!
But wait, aren’t you concerned with content creation, decreasing bounce rate, conversions, sales funnels etc with SEO too?
Perhaps, Inbound Marketing is looking at SEO from a marketer’s perspective. They both are the same thing, but you perceive them as different. The perspective of looking at it is different.
Perhaps, if you are an expert on this, you can shed some more light on this in the comments below. You can tell us how you think they are different from each other.
Inbound Marketing Strategies
So far, we have looked into how technological progress ushered in the era of Inbound Marketing or Digital marketing, as we shifted from an industry-based economy to the information age.
Now let us look at some of the Inbound Marketing strategies you can use to grow your business in a sustained manner, with less resources, and yielding a higher return on investment.
Most of the strategies involve techniques that would create a greater level of visibility for the business. To do that you need to get your site ranking higher in organic search engine results pages (SERPs).
To get your business site to rank higher, you need to understand how search works. There are hundreds of algorithms that control how websites are ranked in organic searches.
A few of them includes quality content, on-page SEO factors, website speed, links and more. I don’t think you need to know all the factors responsible for ranking. Because, honestly, I don’t think anyone knows for sure what all these factors are.
But the bottom line is to create the best user experience possible for your users, and you could be on your way to top rankings.
Well, maybe not so fast.
Even if you are creating fabulous stuff on your site, that is super relevant and helpful to your users. You still won’t rank well if you don’t get endorsed by other similar sites in your niche.
By endorsements, I mean links.
Yes, links are the most important off-page ranking factor till date. You need the other good stuff too, that we talked about, but most importantly you need links.
The more links you have from high authority and credible sites, the more trust and credibility gets passed onto your site. It is like, you are the company you keep. If credible sites are linking to you, then your site too must be trustworthy.
Here is part of the results obtained from a study done by SEMRush that analyses the ranking factors.
The factors like Direct website visits, Time on site, Pages per session & Bounce rate are on-page factors you can strive to improve on your site that brings in big dividends. But they are not fully in your control.
On the other hand, you have better control over Total referring domains & Backlinks.
Therefore, most of the Inbound Marketing strategies revolve around building links to your site. Or making your site more linkable.
Let’s look at a few strategies now:
Guest blogging is when you write as a guest author on another site. You offer your expertise or knowledge in the form of a post that you publish on that site.
In return, you get recognition and exposure to a newer audience. Some of that audience would follow back to your own site. And if they find value, they may become permanent followers. So, you gain a totally new audience.
When you guest blog on a credible site, it helps you gain recognition as an expert in your niche. This helps build your personal brand, which you can use to promote your business too.
The icing on the cake would be the linkbacks you get to your site from the author bio from your guest post.
So, guest blogging helps build recognition, establish authority, build personal brand, helps build links to your site, and sends targeted visitors to your website!
Those are incredible perks to go out and engage in lots and lots of guest blogging on authority sites.
Content creation is the foundation on which the whole idea of Inbound Marketing stands. The idea as we discussed in the opening of the article is to create content that addresses pain points of your potential customers.
Content creation or blogging on your business site opens up new opportunities to be found online. Therefore, it can increase your website traffic immensely, in turn increasing your sales and profits.
Let’s look at some best practices:
Create longform content, as it tends to rank better. Write blog posts that are between 2000 to 2500 words.
- Research the issues that your potential customers are struggling with. Then create in-depth articles around those issues. That way, you will attract the right type of audience to your site.
- Updating your blog more often and creating fresh content helps to rank your site better. In any case it gives a good impression with your users
- Make sure to include lots of images to break the monotony of the long article. Also, humans remember more visually. It also captivates their interest and helps them stay focused. Moreover, it is easier to explain with the help of visual aids. Include videos wherever possible.
Promote the content on your website
This is another great way to build links to your site. It is important to know that just creating content is not good enough.
Technology has not yet progressed to the level where Google can simply look at a post and decipher the value it will provide to its readers.
Therefore, it must rely on certain metrics to understand how helpful others are finding the content you created.
Remember SEMrush study graph I included at the top? The top metrics are “time on site”, “pages per session”, “bounce rate” etc. They are all basic indicators of whether your users are finding the content useful or not.
If it is not useful, then that content would not rank. It all boils down to how helpful your content is to the user for that particular search term.
But for that article to be found or rank in the SERPs in the first place, you need other websites from your niche to endorse it. In other words, to link to your article.
This is where promotions come in.
You must promote it first to get sufficient enough backlinks to rank high enough in the SERPs for it be found by your potential customers.
A few things you can do to help your article gain more links.
Ask a prominent figure (Influencer) in your niche for a quote
When you are starting with your article, you can reach out to your industry influencers and ask them if they would like to provide you with a quote.
To find influencers, simply head over to your Twitter account. And in the search bar type the article topic you are writing on and hit enter.
You will be presented with a list of the top tweets with that hashtag. You can see the people who made those tweets.
Either they tweeted their own article. Or they tweeted someone else’s.
If they tweeted their own article, and if they have a good number of followers, they must have some clout in your niche. You can reach out to them for a quote.
And if they retweeted someone else’s article, they can be good candidates to reach out to when you will be promoting your own article. That makes sense. Right?
Moreover, if you just want to find people who have “Inbound Marketing” or your search term mentioned in their bio, you can simply change the filter to “People”, as shown in the screenshot below:
Then you can simply reach out to them by sending them a Direct Twitter Message or by Tweeting to them publicly.
Share on Social Media
Share your article on as many social media platforms as you possibly can. The more people it reaches the better.
If you have been successful in taking a quote or some tips from an influencer. Be sure to tag them when you share your article. Possibly they will share it too from their social profiles.
It could have a huge impact on its reach and on how many people link to it because of it.
Reach out to other bloggers who have linked to similar content from their blogs. If your article is newer, longer, more in-depth, with better insights, they may feel inclined to link to it.
These are just a few of the many inbound strategies you can use to pull customers to your website.
At this point, metrics like “Time on site”, “Pages per session” & “Bounce rate” would play an important role in determining how well you continue to fare in the search results.
Optimizing your landing pages would go a long way in improving your rankings.
I wonder how Inbound Marketing or SEO would shape up in the future.
I am a technology enthusiast. And I follow its progress very passionately. I am keen to know what the future holds for us.
So, how would digital marketing shape up in the near future? I don’t think it is possible to guess accurately at this time.
But I believe much of what can be automated, will be automated, like self-driving cars. Automatic ordering of services & its fulfillment through services like Amazon & eBay. Intelligent software for websites that autonomously interact with humans to optimize their shopping experience.
Search engines would be way smarter and will be able to understand human language & human intent with greater accuracy.
I think the amount of content that we create would increase greatly, up to a point where it is doubling every hour. And with so much information, new avenues will open up to market products & services through Inbound marketing.
Intelligent eyewear can fetch information on the go and can get you any information on a product, service or business. Which of course would help customers make intelligent choices.
How do you think the future would impact digital marketing? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
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