Small business marketing is evolving rapidly, and one of the biggest shifts in recent years has been from traditional outbound marketing (advertising, sponsorships, partnerships, etc.) to inbound marketing. But what, exactly, is inbound marketing? What does it entail, and why is it worth the effort? Read on for the answers.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is the umbrella term for marketing tactics that help consumers find and connect with your business through unpaid means. The main goal of inbound marketing is to create value, provide help, and educate/entertain an audience.
Why Is Inbound Marketing Effective?
Rather than disrupting people as they go about their business online, inbound marketing reaches consumers where they are with information that is relevant and interesting to them.
Inbound marketing also encourages engagement and participation by consumers on a brand’s behalf. Instead of being a one-way conversation, with the business talking at the consumer, inbound marketing promotes a two-way conversation between consumers and brands.
What Are Inbound Marketing Techniques?
When it comes to inbound marketing, content rules, whether it’s content you create from scratch or content you share from another source.
Some inbound marketing techniques include:
- Social media
- Online listings
- Blog posts
- Comments on online forums
- Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
How Much Does Inbound Marketing Cost?
Overall, inbound marketing costs about 62% less than outbound marketing in terms of budget. But there are additional costs associated with inbound marketing that have nothing to do with money. It takes time and talent to produce and curate great content. It also requires a strategy and dedicated resources to get involved in conversations where your potential customers are online.
The good news is that, while inbound marketing is labor-intensive, it definitely pays off. According to a recent HubSpot survey, inbound marketing generates 54% more leads than outbound sources, and the cost per lead is lower across all inbound marketing channels.
The Bottom Line
If you haven’t already started to invest in inbound marketing for your small business, or if your inbound investment is minimal, consider adjusting your strategy for 2014 to take advantage of all that inbound has to offer.