A Beginner's Guide to Inbound Marketing

Business.com / Marketing Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

The old marketing playbook doesn't match the way consumers shop and buy. Learn how to grow your business by getting started with inbound...

The way in which people live and work has fundamentally changed over the last twenty years. Trips to the bookstore have been replaced with visits to Amazon. People check email on their tablets and phones, and collaborate in real-time through cloud-based applications. As a result, the old school marketing playbook simply doesn't work: 86% of Americans skip TV ads, while 91% have unsubscribed from emails. You can no longer buy your way into people's hearts or wallets. You need to earn consumer trust and engagement with remarkable content and highly lovable and efficient interactions: that's the heart of what inbound marketing is all about.

RelatedHow to Attract Inbound Links to Your Site Naturally

So what the heck is inbound marketing and how can you benefit as a small business owner? Inbound marketing is a holistic approach to marketing that attracts individuals to your brand and creates a lifetime relationship with your customers. Inbound marketing leverages channels like Twitter and LinkedIn, tools like blogging, SEO, and effective email marketing, and remarkable content across each element of your marketing funnel to attract, convert, engage and delight your prospects, leads, and customers.  Below I've outlined how you  can leverage inbound marketing to grow your reach, improve your conversion rates, and ultimately grow your company--all without wasting money on your marketing.

1) Start Writing: In the old marketing playbook, you'd wait for other people to write about your business in a newspaper, but now, consumers do almost all of their research online, so waiting for other people to tell your story is a big missed opportunity. Blogs produced a new customer for 43% of marketers last year, so don't wait to get started. To begin, focus on speaking your customer's language, helping them find the content they need when considering a purchase, and adding a call to action to make it easy and seamless for them to engage with your business moving forward.

2) Get Social: If you don't already have social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Google+, now is a good time to get started. Social networks now include people of all ages and backgrounds, so if you don't think your customers are active on social, now is a good time to think again. You don't have to participate in every social network to do well, but make sure you invest time and energy in the channels you choose. Not sure where to start? Add social sharing to your website and experiment with visual content: when it comes to social media, a great photo truly is worth a thousand words.

3) Use Email To Your Advantage: No one wants to get more boring promotional emails, so use email carefully but effectively to help grow your business. Make it easy for people to sign up for your email marketing list, but also make sure you invest the effort in making your emails as effective as possible by including a compelling offer, truly dynamic information, or really interesting content--doing so can improve your click through rates significantly and prevent people from unsubscribing from your list.

Related: Get expert help from email marketing providers.

When it comes to email, knowing your numbers is critical, so work with a proven email marketing vendor (we recommend HubSpot of course!) to track your email data, scrub your list to ensure it includes high quality contacts, and A/B test your emails to optimize each send. Your prospects and customers will thank you.

Inbound marketing can help your business grow significantly without spending lots of money on advertising. Instead of paying other people for advertising, inbound marketing allows you to build ownable assets that build value over time, transforming not just your marketing but also your business.

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