A few years back, when the internet became the world’s primary source of information, a few new buzzwords popped into the business world’s vocabulary. They were in phrases such as “content marketing” and “inbound marketing.”
They sounded foreign then but are familiar now. Still, some businesses and individual marketers don’t seem to have a firm grasp of what is meant by “inbound” marketing, even though they are using content and social media. Using modern tools to perform an outdated practice doesn’t make what you’re doing modern.
And inbound marketing is the modern way. It’s the concept that instead of a business intruding into the lives of a consumer audience, it is attracting that audience by providing information audience members are seeking. The internet has turned consumers into information-seekers, and they want to do business with those who provide the information they need. Marketing is inbound when the company is pulling in information-seekers, rather than pushing out its brand, pitch or product onto them.
Here are three simple ways to make marketing more inbound:
Tell, don’t sell
If you use social media channels, you’ve probably become accustomed to advertisements. Scrolling through a timeline, you probably immediately recognize which “posts” are ads. Maybe you even scroll quickly past them because it feels like they’re intruding on your schedule.
Companies that push their message, no matter what channels they use, can make their audiences feel intruded upon in the same way. A restaurant’s tweet shouldn’t be “We have the best burger; come eat our burger.” It should be “How to create the perfect burger,” or “What makes a burger perfect?”
Draw the user in by dangling information, then keep their attention by providing information that’s relevant and useful to them. They will learn on their own how your business fits in with that information.
One of the easiest ways to pull an audience in is simply to invite them in. Posting surveys or asking your followers outright for comments on a particular topic are easy ways to make marketing inbound. You’re inviting the consumers to the party.
Sure, it helps to have a great party. But your business’s “party” could be a fantastic product or outstanding customer service, and your audience will never find out just how great the party is if they don’t get an invitation to it. Using content and social media channels to promote interaction and participation will bring more guests to the party than just shouting “THIS IS A GREAT PARTY!” at everyone. That invitation is inbound marketing.
Show some personality
People want to do business with people they know. If a business wants to attract and retain clients/customers, then, it makes sense to let those people get to know them a little bit. That might mean loosening up a little, letting the audience get a glimpse of a human person behind the business.
Say you’re an attorney who writes a law blog to attract new clients. You write a fabulous blog post titled “What you need to know about intellectual property infringement.” That, through no fault of your own, could sound pretty boring to an audience.
So instead of merely providing a link to the post via social media or email blast, you could add a line that says something like: “Is the best post you’ll ever read about intellectual property infringement? Maybe.” Or try: “Only this blog can make intellectual property infringement this exciting.”
The point is that people get wooden, scripted messages from companies all the time. And wooden, scripted words don’t make people feel like they know you or want to know you. To draw them in, let them see a little more of you.
Inbound marketing doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, merely asking “Am I pushing or am I pulling?” every time a marketer creates or promotes content can help determine just how inbound their marketing is. Pull more than you push, and your marketing will be more inbound.