What Everybody Ought to Know About Inbound Marketing
Posted: October 3, 2012
This is a blog about the future of marketing. It’s about a more accountable future for your marketing department that applies old fashion marketing sense with the distribution and reporting prowess of the Internet. Using the proven methods that have driven leads, sales and admissions for every type of organization for years, you too can apply the principles of inbound marketing to your overall marketing strategy.
You’ve heard it, read it, maybe blogged or tweeted it yourself, but the importance of the following statement cannot be understated: Content is King. Think about it: The Internet is simply a content distribution mechanism. Nothing more, nothing less. And the content you publish – whether that be text, imagery, videos, audio – defines you. It’s the most powerful way to make an impression on your audience.
What is Inbound Marketing?
The concepts and strategies fundamental to inbound marketing are really a neatly packaged way of talking about a complex series of proven Internet marketing techniques that businesses, institutions and other organizations have used for years. They include everything from search engine optimization (SEO), social media, blogging and other free methods of online content publishing and sharing.
Inbound marketers acknowledge that consumers of nearly every type of product or service go online to research. They capitalize on that knowledge by nurturing sales leads with a series of content offers meant to orient customers to their brand and ultimately build trust and credibility within that audience.
And looking at this graph that shows the growth of this term’s prevalence in Google searches over time, it’s safe to say that inbound is certainly catching on.
Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing
Inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing primarily in the way that it appeals to an audience. While outbound marketing relies on an organization to ‘push’ its message out to the masses of potential targets (tv commercials, print ads, billboards, direct mail, etc) inbound marketing is all about attracting targets that are proactively looking for your offerings (via social media channels, SEO, website content, etc.).”
Outbound marketing is as effective as your media budget allows. That includes tactics like direct mail, outdoor advertising, telemarketing, and television and radio commercials.
It’s how marketers have worked for years, but thanks to the intersection of users interests and technology, you can now effectively reach your audience without a single cold call or highway billboard.
Characteristics of Valuable Inbound Marketing Content
There are a lot of ways to publish great content to the Internet. But when your ultimate goal is to enroll a student or make a sale, your content can’t just be entertaining, it also has to be helpful. Students are looking for information so they can make the most informed decision about their college choice and customers need the same type of information before they’re ready to buy.
When those prospective students or customers go online to do their research, the information they’re looking for is a lot more attractive than a sales pitch. How-to’s, demos, tip sheets, blogs, infographics and videos are all great examples of content that prospects find appealing.
In higher education, a great way to spark prospective students’ interest is to create videos that give these students a look in to the day-to-life they would experience at your institution. The Jenkins MBA Program at NC State University does a great job documenting the experiences and accomplishments of its students on its YouTube Channel.
Once you’ve created an amazing, useful, interesting, timely and branded piece of content, it’s time to publish and promote it. Use social media channels to attract attention from your audience and encourage them to share it with others.
After publishing that content, though, make sure that you have some way to engage with those visitors after they read, watch or download your content. Collecting email addresses through a landing page form is a great way to add contacts to a database so you can share more relevant information with those people.
Design an attractive landing page and make sure you’re asking for the information that will help you target the right segments of those prospective students later on. In this case, Jenkins MBA admissions representatives want to know whether prospective students are interested in the full-time, part-time or online MBA program.
All of this is not to say that outbound marketing is going away. The time-proven tactics that have worked for years should still be a part of your marketing strategy. The Internet is all about connecting users with content. With nearly full penetration of Internet access in the United States and rapidly increasing base of users abroad, savvy marketers will know how to use inbound and outbound marketing techniques together (what we call ‘integrated programs’). This approach, one that brings together the best of both worlds, maximizes results and reaches more highly qualified targets than marketers thought possible.