Inbound marketing is the new trend everyone is trying to follow. If you listen to the hype, it's a completely new form of marketing that slips in under an audience's defenses, and delivers your message right to their vulnerable spots. It takes time, but when you hook new customers with inbound marketing, you keep those customers. Sometimes for life. So what is inbound marketing, and what does it have to do with your company's blog?
The Difference Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing
Let's begin at the beginning, shall we? When you think of advertising and marketing, the things that come to mind are typically what we call outbound marketing. Things like television commercials, direct mail marketing, or radio advertising spots are all outbound marketing. You can think of them as your business trying to reach out to customers.
Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with outbound marketing, but it has grown less effective over the years. The reason it's grown less effective is that people recognize it for what it is (an attempt to get them to buy something), and ignore it. Try to remember the last time you actually watched a TV commercial on purpose, and it wasn't during the Superbowl. You probably can't think of an instance, because you're more likely to go get a drink, head to the bathroom, or just channel surf when the commercials come on, because you know they're just trying to sell you something, and you don't want to hear it.
That's where inbound marketing comes into play. What makes inbound marketing different is that a business is creating something of value, and leaving it for potential customers to find. The thing being created might be a video series of money-saving life hacks from a chain of discount stores, a podcast doing snarky movie reviews from your local theater, or it might be a blog providing cooking tips from the Italian restaurant downtown. Whatever it is that's being created, it has to be offered to the audience with no strings attached. It's something you made for them, and they can take it or leave it as they wish. Outbound marketing is like trying to run down prey during the hunting season. Inbound marketing is more like baiting a trap, and every new piece of content you create is new bait in a new trap. Sooner or later, someone's going to put their foot in it.
How Blogging Can Improve Your Market Share
This is where blogging comes into the picture, and why it suddenly became a necessity among so many businesses. Because businesses realized that they could use their blogs for more than just updating existing customers on changes being made to company policies, or documenting their own achievements. Their blogs could be used as a way to draw a bigger audience to them, and even better, people who enjoyed the blog would tell others about it.
If, that was, the businesses in question could create a unique blog that offered content people wanted, and cared about.
That is the real challenge when it comes to using your blog for inbound marketing. The Internet is full of blogs, and no matter what idea you've had, chances are good that someone else is already doing it. So, in order for your blog to get noticed, and pull in customers, you need to put your own spin on an idea.
For example, say you were an auto parts dealer. You could create a series of DIY car repair blogs, complete with pictures and videos. Or you could write a series of blogs talking about the stunts done with cars in action movies such as The Fast and The Furious or Mad Max: Fury Road, explaining the high-octane action in a way that average people could understand. Or you could devote your blog to green transportation, covering the latest in hybrid and electric vehicles around the world. All of these are viable ideas, but you need to find a voice and style that makes you stand out from the competition.
Market Your Marketing
The last thing you need to remember, and the most important, is that your blog is the proverbial tree falling in the forest. If no one is around to see it or hear it, then you're never going to pull in any new customers. While this does mean you're marketing your marketing, it's still important to try to raise awareness of your blog. That should include taking steps like:
Optimizing Your Blog:
Everything from your entry titles to the keywords you're using can get your blog discovered. Even a small advantage is an advantage you should take.
Using Social Media:
While your social media pages shouldn't be used exclusively to boost your blog's signal, they should be used to do that, as well.
If you're promoting yourself on one platform, you should mention your blog as well. For example, if you're sending out ad circulars, mention your blog for people who are interested. It might lure them in.
Lastly, though, in order to get a bigger audience for your blog you need to update regularly, provide valuable content, and listen to your audience's feedback. If you can do all of that, then you'll build a relationship with your readers. That relationship means you're no longer just a business blog; you're theirblog. The one they go to for entertainment, information, and to stay up-to-date. That translates to a kind of customer loyalty that's hard to find anywhere else. Just remember, it won't happen overnight. If you keep updating, and providing your readers with quality blogs, you'll see your numbers start to rise.
For more information on how blogging can increase your audience, simply contact us today!