Any business owner will tell you that it takes money to make money. You have to spend in order to earn. Marketing costs money. Flyers and posters cost money. Promotions cost money. And time. And effort. It's the system that has always been in place...because it works.
But the system is changing. Yes, you still need all of those things. There's no escaping that fact. That said, the game has evolved. It's not an entirely new sport, but the team has moved into a shiny new stadium. State of the art. And this new home is the internet. More specifically, I'm talking about Inbound Marketing.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound Marketing refers to anything you provide, free of charge, to drive traffic to your website. Most often, that includes blog posts, special reports, and articles. You're providing useful information and tools, and not asking for the sale. Its opposite - outbound marketing - refers to traditional examples of companies and businesses pushing their message at consumers via direct mail marketing, telemarketing, and trade shows or conferences.
Besides free and useful content on your business blog, inbound marketing also utilizes SEO techniques and social media.
The writing is on the wall, and inbound marketing is clearly the way forward. But how does it work exactly? And should you be doing it for your business?
A Simple Example of Inbound Marketing
If you have a pest control business, you might write an article about the top ten all-natural pest control methods, and then post that on your business website. If you've done your homework (i.e. your keyword research, which I'll address in another post) and shared the post via social media like Facebook and Twitter, you should see a healthy spike in traffic coming from Google and Bing. Why? Because anyone looking for "all-natural pest control" online will hopefully end up at your virtual doorstep.
Now, you may be wondering how any of this could possibly help you and your business. The article is essentially providing the means for anyone to address their pest problem themselves. How does that put money in your pocket? The answer is twofold:
1. You're presenting yourself as an expert at pest control. An "expert in your field" as they say. Additionally, you're building trust with your audience (the people who end up at your site). And you're giving them something for nothing, which everyone loves. You're providing valuable information without any thought of getting something in return. Expert advice. For free. You are now their new best friend. But this still does nothing in terms of monetary return, right?
2. People are kind of lazy most of the time. In our pest example, most of the individuals with a pest problem are unlikely to actually use any of the "all-natural" methods you describe. They will probably end up paying someone to fix their problem. And guess who they'll turn to for help? You...their new best friend with the great free advice.
You've just benefited from inbound marketing. And all it cost you was the 30-60 minutes it took you to write the article (even less if it's something you already know a lot about). That might be an oversimplification, but it rather clearly demonstrates the appeal of it. Simply put, inbound marketing (which is really just targeted blogging) is the single most cost-effective marketing you can do for your business. It might not be 100% free (you need to develop and host a website, for example), but it absolutely offers the best return on your marketing investment.
But does it work? You decide...
The State of Inbound Marketing (according to Hubspot's annual report)
- The average cost per lead for traditional outbound techniques is $346, whereas the average for inbound was $135, or a whopping 61% lower.
- 89% of surveyed companies (over nine hundred for this report) were either increasing their inbound marketing budget (47%) or making no change (42%) from 2011 to 2012.
- Businesses plan on spending 43% of their lead generation budget on inbound techniques. Don't be left behind. If you're not blogging for your business, start right now.
- SEO (search engine optimization) leads (those coming from people looking for related information online and ultimately ending up on your website) have a 14.6% close rate vs. 1.7% for outbound sourced leads.
- Increased blogging corresponds directly to increased new customer acquisition...91% of businesses that post multiple times per day acquired new customers via their blog; 78% for those who posted daily; 70% for those posting 2-3 times per week; 56% for those posting monthly; and only 43% for those posting less than monthly.
- 25% of surveyed businesses rated their blog as CRITICAL to their success. 81% rated it useful or better.
So, does it work? Yes. Yes it does.
Should you be blogging for your business? Yes. Yes you should.
And if you're not sure how to start, a simple search for blog or blogging here on Career Addict will turn up several useful articles to point you in the right direction. But no matter how you do it, get on it. This is one bandwagon you absolutely need to be on.
Photo by Gavin Llewellyn
Creative Commons License