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Consumers, especially those of the millennial generation, are beginning to tune out interruptive traditional advertising. With the rise of digital and mobile resources, today’s consumers are searching for relevant information on their own, using search engines and social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

In this newsletter, we’ll take a look at the ways inbound marketing is getting the attention of consumers without interruptive messages and is providing audiences with information that’s relevant and easy to access.

What is inbound marketing?

Traditional advertising, such as TV commercials, billboards and direct mail, use a one-way form of communication. They push messages out to buyers as a form of interruption—information they can’t control. On the other hand, inbound marketing (or content marketing) involves the strategic production of content and use of SEO keyword tactics to get the message in front of the target audience through their own research. It gives buyers the power to seek out the information themselves, and only consume the things they find relevant and useful.

Inbound marketing is most commonly placed in online owned media channels, such as blogs, company websites and social media. These channels put information right in the laps of the consumers by placing information where they are already looking; topping their online searches with content optimized for SEO, keywords and back links relevant to specific target audiences.

Why do I need inbound marketing?

Today, consumers are bombarded by information and advertising at every turn. They cannot watch TV, listen to the radio or even drive down the highway without seeing some form of advertisement. Audiences are beginning to tune these messages out altogether. This is because information is found more credible (especially by those in Generation X and Y) when they find it themselves, rather than having it served to them through traditional methods.

To combat this drop in credibility, marketers must build trust, loyalty and nurture relationships with current and prospective buyers. This can be accomplished by regularly publishing relevant and useful content. Providing information that’s useful to your prospective customers establishes you as a thought leader and makes it easier for them to trust and respect you and your company. In fact, HubSpot reports that 57% of companies with a blog and 92% of companies who blog multiple times per day have documented customer conversions from their blog.

Another benefit to inbound is that it’s easy and inexpensive to set up, start implementing and track success and ROI. Analytics programs such as Google Analytics, Act-On and Clicky can track web visitors and the information they’re viewing most. These analytics tools also allow users to set up automated forms asking web visitors for contact information, in exchange for the download of content, as a way to build a base of sales leads.

How do I start utilizing inbound marketing?

Unless you’re already in the publishing business, building content development and publishing proficiencies requires a steep learning curve. Either way, successful inbound marketing begins with planning and strategy. If you’re just starting to utilize inbound marketing, you may want to partner with or hire a team who is knowledgable of current trends, has experience and can help you apply best practices.

1. Assess opportunities

Start your inbound plan by taking a look at what’s going on in your company that is noteworhty. Are there major events that the public is interested in? What is your company an expert on? Do you have certain employees who are well versed on a subject?

Ask yourself these questions, and start to formulate topics for blog posts, white papers, news releases, newsletters and social media posts. Gather up the troops and recruit employees who are experts on certain subjects to write posts that your target audience finds relevant and useful.

2. Define your strategy and select your tactics

Once you have a general idea of what you’re going to write about and who is going to write it, you’ll need to start thinking about platforms, context and ways to promote your material. Think about your target audience and the sources they would turn to for information, and choose the combination of formats and channels that work best for your audience.

It’s also important to choose the right keywords and keyword phrases. The content you generate will become what your company is known for, so make it relevant. What sets you apart from your competitors? What are you and your employees an expert on? Focus on generating content that’s useful to who you’re trying to reach and pack it with keywords to catch information-seekers via search engines.

3. Calendar, planner, to-do list: Executing the perfect strategy

Now, it’s time to get organized. Create an inbound schedule using a calendar or planner. Set small goals, such as sending out one or two blog posts per week, or map out white paper topics for the whole year. Coordinate topics with national trends, holidays, seasons or events and make sure that timely posts go out while they’re still top-of-mind. For example, in March (Women’s History Month), you might want to mobilize females in your company to generate content about women’s role in your industry.

Coordinate your inbound strategy with your outbound strategy, using traditional channels to promote content and drive traffic to your site. Think about repurposing content across inbound platforms and connecting them to to reach audiences in multiple channels.

4. Automation: Putting your content on autopilot

Keep your staff or team motivated to keep churning out a constant stream of insightful content. Let them write about topics they’re interested in to keep them excited. It can also be useful to write several pieces at one time, building a bank of content to be published later. This plan works great when your team has a big project and is busy working on other things. Having back-up content ensures that you’ll never miss a post.

Try setting up an automated campaign for people who subscribe to your content. Serve them regularly scheduled email blasts with information relevant to other posts they’ve viewed on your website. Automated campaigns allow you to keep your audience constantly engaged, and interacting with your content.

Having a solid inbound marketing strategy can establish your organization’s thought leadership, boost credibility and create awareness for your brand. Combine a solid strategy with traditional advertising methods to increase exposure, maximize ROI and build relationships with prospects.

To learn more about inbound and content marketing strategies, keep an eye out for our upcoming white paper all about inbound marketing,

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