Inbound marketing is marketing focused on getting found by customers. In other words, instead of taking the time and resources to go out and find customers, you set yourself up in such a way that the right kinds of qualified leads find you. Inbound marketing, focused on areas like search engine optimization, content and social media, is cheaper and better targeted than traditional outbound marketing like advertising, cold calling, direct mail and email blasts.
So how do you do it? That’s where inbound marketing companies like Hubspot can help. Hubspot offers free resources and an array of tools (available via a $250 monthly subscription to site owners) to help companies improve search engine rank and influence, increase social media presence, and create content and marketing strategies.
One of the coolest parts of Hubspot’s service is its marketing intelligence feature, which provides a private FriendFeed-like feed of useful information related to inbound marketing, such as new comments alerts on blog posts, detected inbound links and keyword rank changes. This kind of information updated in real time can be highly useful to business owners and marketing professionals tasked with rapidly absorbing enormous amounts of information and making smart decisions to increase sales and ROI.
Inbound marketing is seeing an enhanced role in overall marketing strategies, due in part to the increased presence of businesses online. The Inbound Marketing Summit, which takes place this year on April 28-29 in San Francisco, focuses on the need for businesses “to be found on the web and leverage inbound marketing techniques to reach customers with targeted messages that customers seek out, not ignore.” Proving the importance and influence that the topic of inbound marketing now plays on the Internet, speakers will include such luminaries as Tim O’Reilly, Loic LeMeur, Brian Solis and Chris Brogan.
Not everyone is a flag-waving member of the pro-inbound marketing camp, though. Christopher S. Penn points out the need to temper inbound marketing with more “old fashioned” outbound marketing techniques such as direct mail and email:
Inbound and outbound marketing are co-dependent on each other. When you first get started, you’ll find that you do a lot more outbound marketing than inbound marketing. This is the time to experiment with all the methods of outbound. Try out direct email, advertisements, trade shows, and all of the outbound methods, and find the ones that work best for you. Once you begin to gain momentum, more of your business will come from inbound methods – word of mouth, search as your web site gains more credibility, content that rocks, promises you keep to the consumer.
A healthy combination of outbound and inbound marketing strategies makes a lot of sense.
What steps have you taken to improve your company’s inbound marketing?