What Is Inbound Marketing and Why Should I Use It?

I should warn you now. This is a long post!  It addresses a lot of questions I get asked regularly. I know there’s a lot of confusion out there, so I hope this will help.

So, just what is inbound marketing, and why should you use it for your small business?

sensitive noise / obvious 2

Photo courtesy of milos milosevic(CC Attribution)

I think just about everyone who runs a small business understands they *should* have an online presence. That they *could* get more customers than they are right now. But there seems to be about a thousand different ways to go about doing that – and who knows what way is best? 

Is a website enough? Should I spend thousands on having it professionally designed or should I just create a free (or cheap) one through a service like Wix or SquareSpace?What about Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest and other ‘social media’ type sites? What about email marketing and lead nurturing? (if you don’t know what that is, that’s okay, but you’re missing out on one of the most powerful ways to turn website visitors into actual customers)And why is it that my existing website isn’t working the way I thought it would? 

Marketing a small business online can be daunting, overwhelming, expensive and time-consuming.Time you likely don’t have.

It’s not fair.

Larger companies have access to professional resources who can handle all their online marketing for them. They also have access to expensive software services that help them manage them all. But most of that runs tens of thousands of dollars a year, and is generally too complex for an owner/operator or someone with a few staff.And this has left a large gaping hole for small business owners who are forced to either a) not do anything. b) create a website and hope that the old maxim ‘build it and they will come’ holds true (it doesn’t – not online). c) invest countless hours trying to figure it all out for themselves (and not running their business) d) hire a consultant to help them through.

Components of Inbound Marketing

Photo courtesy of Gavin Llewellyn(CC Attribution)

The problem with consultants is that it’s hit and miss. You *might* find a really good one who’s worth her weight in gold, but unless you really know what you’re looking for (and you likely don’t unless you’ve already done c) the odds are stacked against you. You’re far more likely to end up with someone who knows a little more than you do, but not enough for you to actually see real results.Inbound marketing is the umbrella name for all of that. For your website, your social media presence, lead nurturing and your entire online marketing strategy.

If you want to be successful online nowadays, a website alone is not enough. You need a place online where you can tell the world about you, and start developing relationships with people online in a scalable kind of way. Almost all small business owners I know enjoy telling other people about what they do, their business and their industry. For some reason however, almost all like doing it face to face in a way that can never scale. And those same people don’t enjoy writing the same kind of content and putting it online so that *many* people can get to know them, like them, trust them, and eventually, buy from them.

At it’s most basic, inbound marketing includes:

  • A website (outlining the important stuff)
  • A blog (with thoughts, ideas, personality – this is where you ‘talk’ about you, your business, your industry, your opinions)
  • An SEO strategy. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s a way to use your time to maximum benefit – and maximize the chance of the right people finding you online.
  • Social media – use it to distribute your blog posts, but also to engage with clients and potential clients
  • Lead nurturing – this is the process, over time, in which you convert website visitors into customers. You do this by offering them something of value for free in exchange for their email address or twitter handle so you can ‘talk’ to them directly. Every now and again you send them something else of value. Something educational or entertaining.  For example, if you’re a massage therapist, you might offer a quick relaxation tip a week. Or offer some simple exercises on how to reduce stress at work through some 60 second technique. Something of value that you can offer, that you would offer to a friend if they asked you for your advice.

As you can imagine, the steps involved in doing all of this do require some knowledge and learning.  We can help you do it all through our Free Series on how to get your first 1,000 visitors…and keep growing once you do! Enter your email address below to get started.

Get Your First 1000 Visitors From Twitter

And 2-3 times a month we'll send you a tip you can implement in 15 minutes or less to grow your business.

Of course, you’ll still have to learn several different systems, and use each of them every week. You’ll still need to spend hours setting it all up, and then hours every week maintaining it. But it’ll be worth it.  Businesses have doubled and in some cases even tripled in size in 12-18 months using a comprehensive inbound marketing strategy.  Even with the time commitment required, it could easily be the best move you’ve made for marketing your business.

One caveat:

inbound marketing, like all relationships, takes time. Expect it to take 3 months before you start seeing results. And another 3 before those results grow to be significant, and then another 6 and you could be doubling your business too. And unlike other marketing channels – the work you put in will continue to bring in customers for years to come. It’s not a tap that gets shut off when you stop. It’s a long-term business strategy that will continue to pay dividends for 2-3 years or longer.

But there’s another way.

We created Spokal to address exactly these issues. We’ve spent over a year developing a platform that does a lot of the work for you. 

You still need to tell the world about what you do, who you are, your opinions, thoughts, ideas. But Spokal will take care of everything else. You tell it a little bit about your business – and we’ll create an effective SEO strategy for you. Then start telling the world about you, your business, your thoughts, opinions and industry.  We make it easy with a fun and friendly drag and drop editor that allows you to find and drag and drop images from Flickr (and not worry about the license – they’re all free for business use), and drag and drop tweets and youtube videos into your posts just as easily. We’ll guide you on how to maximize your chance of getting found by relevant people in Google. We’ll tell your social media followers about your new blog posts by tweeting and posting on  your business facebook page about them – automatically. We’ll collect your website visitor’s email addresses for you, and show you how to do what you already do 1 on 1 at scale to turn them into customers.

Drag and drop tweets like this one right into your posts:

We’ll track everything and let you know where you’re doing a great job, and where you could do better. We’ll learn over time and provide smarter and smarter recommendations on what you should do next. Finally – we’ll learn about all the new tools, Google algorithm changes and social media platforms out there so you don’t have to. We integrate them into Spokal and you’ll keep just using one platform, one system, one toolset. We stay on top of changing trends so you don’t have to.  

Start your free 14 day free trial now and see for yourself.

  • Chris Fossenier

    Hey Chris,

    What has the response been like to Spokal?

    Chris.
    http://www.rocketinbound.com

    • Alexandra Skey

      Hey Chris,

      Alexandra here!

      The response has been great so far. There’s clearly a need to automate the online marketing process for small business owners, and we’re looking forward growing Spokal based on their feedback and recommendations.

      Have you had a chance to test us out yet?

      Chat Soon,
      Alexandra