You may have heard a lot of hype and buzz about inbound marketing lately. Now you are wondering what it is and how it is different from what you are already doing. Hang on to your hat, because we are going to give you the quick and easy tour of inbound marketing and how you can use it.

In a nutshell, inbound marketing is putting information content where consumers will find it when they begin their journey from awareness to purchase. Modern consumers are more interested in researching their purchases than any past generation of consumers. They may be looking for the best price, want to compare product features or just find out more about a product that they heard about. Engaging consumers at this phase of active research is where inbound marketing differs from traditional "interrupt" marketing.

Allow Me To Interrupt

Let's take a step back and examine traditional "interrupt" marketing. In the past, advertisements on radio, television and in print were designed to interrupt consumers during their consumption of entertainment or some other form of research/information gathering. A full-page medicine advertisement in a medical journal targeting doctors or a TV commercial for sugary cereal during Saturday morning cartoons are both good examples of this type of marketing. The main problem of interrupt marketing is that consumers actively avoid it and develop subconscious filters to keep from being distracted.

With the advent of the internet and smart phones, consumers have a ready information resource that allows them to research and search for products. This has created a new opportunity for marketing your products to consumers, and so the "informational advertisement" and "infomercial" have been reborn!  By creating valuable information resources about products and services, marketers can educate, entertain and sell products.  Here are just a few examples of how that works:

Informational Downloads: Create valuable information resources, such as a practical guide or instruction manual, and offer it for download in exchange for a user's contact information.

YouTube Videos: In addition to your usual commercial content, generate informative and entertaining pieces that engage users and make them want to return and share the videos with others. From training videos to blooper reels, you may be surprised what will generate viewer interest and traffic.

Drip Mail: Once you have a potential client's contact address, email them with information that is relevant to both their interest and their location in the discovery to purchase process. For example, send an email on how to choose the right lender to first-time home buyers who indicated they have not been pre-qualified for a home loan.

: Create a blog dedicated to discussing and educating consumers on a service or product, much like this blog post. Then add links to your blog to your email signatures, website home page and promote posts via sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Contact other bloggers to request they review or discuss your product or link to your site.

Twitter: Twitter allows you to communicate directly with consumers to broadcast promotions, offer discounts and more. By monitoring your Twitter feed, you can find and address any bad feedback or engage with consumers to answer product questions.

Facebook: A Facebook page is another opportunity for you to show up in search results, promote your products and allow consumers to connect with you and each other. This is particularly helpful when a product or service has a fan base.

PPC: Paid advertisements on search engines and consumer-specific websites can help raise awareness of your products and services during the early stages of discovery by consumers.

Forums: Forum and discussion boards allow users to pose and answer questions as well as hold discussions about specific topics. Monitoring and contributing posts by answering questions related to your products or services can generate substantial goodwill in consumers and help close the deal.

Social Sharing: Encourage sharing by providing social links and forwarding options within the emails, blog posts, tweets etc.

For more information on inbound marketing or to get answers to other marketing and advertising questions, contact us.