Traditional marketing methods that most people think about when they hear the word “marketing" are what we call, outbound marketing. They rely on print advertising, paid branding, salespeople, cold calling, phone books, billboards, commercials, etc… and they are quickly becoming obsolete in today’s world. They are also a poor investment for most businesses nowadays. The world is getting more digital every day and online marketing is becoming increasingly more important for businesses all the time.
There has been a lot of talk in the internet marketing/SEO industry in the past couple years about what we should call the new age focus of what we do going forward. A lot of people, including me, have decided on the phrase “inbound marketing" as a good way to describe the ever-changing set of strategies online marketers are using to get potential customers to their websites (and the sites of their clients).
Inbound marketing is all about receiving traffic from the internet and search engines via content. This is done through blogging, article writing, video creation, infographics, white papers, webinars, and so on. On top of that it’s about getting traffic from social media via Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google Plus, YouTube, along with niche related forums, news sites, email marketing, the blogosphere, and so on. And it has really taken off lately!
For most business owners and web marketers, SEO is a vital part of what we do but it’s still only part of the equation. A modern digital marketing specialist is focused on driving as much traffic to the businesses website as possible from non-advertising sources, then figuring out how to make that traffic to convert into sales. This is done using a variety of tactics and resources.
When I first began doing SEO more than a decade ago, the 3 major unpaid traffic sources were organic search, direct visitors, and referrals. And for years SEO was all a business needed to compete online. Then, social media started becoming a larger source of traffic and continued to grow into the monster it is today.
These days all types of businesses and websites are engaging in social media to capture interest, visitors and money. Sites like YouTube, Facebook, Google Plus, Linkedin, Twitter, Pinterest, etc… are providing entire platforms for people to share content with each other. And now social media is even an important factor and huge part of SEO itself.
For purely informational purposes (what is it, how does it work, where can I get one, who’s the hot girl in that new hit movie, where is the nearest chiropractor to my house, and so on) search engines definitely still reign supreme. But social media sites can offer a huge benefit for getting your content/products/services in front of people who don’t already know about them, and doing it quickly. You and your business can now be instantly discoverable, which means having an internet marketing strategy that includes content spread all across the web on various platforms is becoming more important every day.
Of course, content marketing is a huge part of SEO (always has been but even more so now) and of inbound marketing. As business owners, we need to start thinking more about content and working it into our marketing strategy.
This includes, but is not limited to:
* Adding relevant sharing buttons to our websites.
* Creating unique content for different social channels.
* Engaging users directly on relevant content distribution networks.
* Instituting brand monitoring and analytics to track our efforts.
* Using SEO as a long term traffic strategy while implementing other inbound methods in the short term.
It’s a whole new world out there and it’s time to embrace inbound marketing as the method of the future, which is now. Either get on board or be left behind by your competition!