What is Inbound Marketing
According to themarketingheaven.com, Inbound Marketing is a term used to classify a number of activities which are all intended to attract and engage your target market using a variety of online media.  Inbound Marketing can be differentiated from Outbound Marketing in tone and style and intent.  Outbound is more blatant sales oriented messaging, pushed out to make an impact and immediately draw in traffic and sales.  Inbound is more of a process of generating valuable content for users to discover and then they decide how to proceed, how to engage with your brand. Now, let's be clear, both Inbound and Outbound are done with the eventual goal of attracting more interest, more leads, and more sales.  To believe otherwise would be spinning your wheels.

Side Effect of Inbound Marketing is SEO

A positive side effect of properly performing Inbound Marketing is that you should see a significant boost to your SEO results.  You are creating content for the marketplace, and SEO is increasingly about the value and quality of content.  More about this can be read in our How to SEO in 2013 article.

The Process of Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing is, as I said above, a process, a sequence of activities to attract and convince and capture and sell your desired customer base.  You first need to attract your potential customers by having something of value to offer.  You attract by being attractive, that is, you have what they are seeking.  In the setting of online marketing, this is producing content that your marketplace finds valuable.  We discuss more on the topic of Contact for Content in another posting. Once someone has shown an interest in your materials, in your ideas, your content, they still have to be convinced that what you offer is valuable.  Do not force the issue.  If what you offer is valuable enough, help them discover it, and let them set the pace.  The Internet offers many other choices for them to turn to, so don't turn them away by a hard sell response to their first interaction with you.  By letting them set the pace, they become a willing participant in the process, instead of a reluctant and skeptical participant.  Their buy-in, at this stage, will make the rest of the process, culminating in the sales cycle, go smoother.

The Where of Inbound Marketing

Your website is the focus of your Inbound Marketing efforts, but social media channels are prime for the attraction phase.  Social Media such as Google + and Facebook are well suited to post content and handle conversations with interested members of your marketplace.  Keep in mind that social media users are not likely in the buying mood when they are browsing and posting on social media so an aggressive sales oriented message is not your best tactic.  Draw them to your site with the attraction of content that solves a problem or answers a question for them.

The How of Inbound Marketing

Putting together a sequence of activities, and building materials to attract, convince, capture and sell through Inbound Marketing is as much a planning process as a creative process.  It all begins with the central idea of solving a problem your future customer may have today, or providing information to them that they seek today.  We will have more on the How of Inbound Marketing in a future article.