Marketing is a complex and somewhat frustrating process. For one thing, the landscape seems to change every few years. In the 1980s, advertisers used things like radio and television commercials, newspaper circulars and billboards to advertise their products or services. As the 90s brought the Internet to the masses, there was a whole new way of marketing.

Today, Internet marketing is a constant, open dialogue between customers and businesses. Outbound marketing like advertising campaigns are directly competing with this new model of marketing – inbound marketing – because people don’t just listen to advertising anymore and then go out and buy the product. Instead, they actually do their research because the Internet has given them the power to find and purchase exactly the product that they want. So inbound marketing is a conversation between the customer and the seller and most of it is done on social media.


Outbound Marketing

If you want to know whether or not outbound marketing is still effective here are some interesting statistics: nearly half of people’s mail gets thrown away unopened. So if you are sending something by mail to someone there is at least a 50% chance that they will never see it.

More than four out of five people have the technology – and the desire – to skip through television commercials so you’re out of luck there too. But what about the Internet? It turns out, that people who visit websites with intrusive or annoying ads, leave that website as quickly as possible and never come back. Plus, outbound marketing costs more than inbound marketing which makes for an easy choice. Number one, it is more expensive and number two, it’s probably not going to work anyway.

But the main problem with outbound marketing is that you are basically paying to be in front of a person who may or may not be paying attention to you. You can have the greatest offer in the world – in fact, you could be giving away something valuable – and the people that are paying attention still aren’t going to buy or claim it.


Inbound Marketing

The difference between outbound marketing and inbound marketing is that a marketer that is using the inbound method already has the person’s attention because that person came to him. For example, if you created a compelling blog post that caught people’s attention, you would have a much easier time selling them on a product or service since they are already listening to you.

When you use social media, blogs, podcasts and all of the other forms of communication that the Internet offers you are doing inbound marketing and when you create content that is both interesting and packed with valuable information you are doing inbound marketing well.


How to Use Inbound Marketing to Grow Your Business

Now that we know which form of marketing is preferable, it is a good idea to understand the different types of inbound marketing and how to use them properly. The fact is, most small businesses don’t use any of the inbound marketing techniques properly. They may have some success based on their efforts but they would have a great deal more if they learned about each particular method and followed the best practices for them.


You Need to Know Your Audience

Many small businesses don’t succeed at their inbound marketing efforts because they are using the wrong kind of medium or the wrong kind of content for the audience that they are going after. Just as with outbound marketing, which keeps track of which people watch television or listen to the radio at which times of the day, inbound marketing should also be targeted.

You want to know all of the relevant facts about your audience. You want to know what age groups they are in, what their values are, what their objections usually are and most importantly, what problem they are facing and how you can solve it.

Once you know your audience intimately then you can start seeing which of your marketing strategies are going to work best for them and what you need to change to get them to come to you with their eyes wide, ready to look at the solution you have to the problem they are facing.


Create the Highest Quality Content Possible

When you are doing inbound marketing, it isn’t enough just to have content on your blog, nor can you slap together a podcast quickly that isn’t really very good and expect for people to respond. If you are trying to get someone to spend money on your product or service then you need to make sure that you are giving them your best quality possible.

That means that all of your blog posts should be professionally written, containing relevant images and be on a website that is streamlined and attractive and makes it easy to read your blog posts. If you are creating a podcast, then you want to use an high quality microphone and record somewhere with almost no noise and even more importantly, have something valuable to offer on the podcast – and don’t forget to be entertaining as well.

So many Internet marketers fall into this trap. They want to get the word out about their product or service and so they cut corners and do inbound marketing that isn’t as effective as it could be if they had worked harder on their strategy.


Track Your Progress and Set Big Goals and Little Goals

If you want to be successful at inbound marketing you’re going to have to track your progress. You want to know how a particular strategy worked for you in comparison to the other strategies that you tried. You also need to set goals for yourself – both big goals and little goals. Short-term goals will allow you to set a reasonable and fairly easy target while long-term goals will simply be the completion of all of the short-term goals along the way and by using this strategy you will not only be able to reach your goals but you will know how you got there.