Before we dive in, let’s talk for a minute about how mobile Internet, and its search engines like Google and Yahoo, has created a world in which the concept of inbound marketing has really taken off.
Together with the now available-just-anywhere Internet, the iPhone and Android devices led massive changes in consumer behavior. Between 2008 and 2010, social networks and online retailers saw major increases in users and sales, respectively. That said, because the concept of inbound marketing is a direct response to the fact that most consumers are on the Internet, small businesses should be embracing this strategy, too.
Benefits for Small Businesses
1. Inbound marketing is cost-effective. Simply put, it costs less than outbound marketing practices, and any boost to the bottom line is a good thing.
2. Inbound marketing meets your customers. Creating a presence on social media puts a face on your company, allowing it to connect more personally with potential consumers. In turn, a positive experience creates loyal customers who then go out and share their satisfaction with their friends. Think of it as social media marketing.
3. Inbound marketing gives you feedback. Pretty instantly, in fact. Through social networks and blogs, you can get feedback on your products and services that you just couldn’t with an old-fashioned mailout.
So, think of inbound marketing as the tried and true “word of mouth” strategy on steroids. And, as part of a small business, you know that what your customers are saying about you is huge.
Developing an Inbound Marketing Strategy for Small Businesses
But what if you just don’t have the budget to hire a full-time marketing manager? No problem, there are plenty of inexpensive and easy things you can do yourself if you are willing to devote the time. So, what do you think? Can you put 8 hours of inbound marketing into your week?
Let’s talk strategy.
First things first:
- Make your website the centerpiece of your inbound marketing campaign. Take a critical look at your site. Is the interface clean and user-friendly? Does it really showcase your business in a professional and intriguing manner?
- Create social media pages for your business. Update your pages regularly with unique, relevant information that starts conversations and ultimately directs your fans and followers somewhere intentional, like your website or a specific landing page.
- Start blogging. It’s not as intimidating as it seems. And don’t forget to comment on other blogs, too!
- Remember to be social. Like in-the-flesh social. Get involved in your community and meet other business leaders in your area. Inbound marketing doesn’t have to mean online marketing exclusively.
So, how about those 8 hours?
Rather than spending one entire day each week implementing your online marketing strategy, set aside some time each day to work at it. Inbound marketing requires patience and a little creativity, so don’t get discouraged if the progress is a little slow at first.
We won’t map out how to spend each minute, but here are some guidelines for breaking up your time:
- Spend about three hours each week publishing blogs. Need a how-to?
- Take about an hour and half per week to interact on other blogs. Check other blogs and social media pages that are relevant to your business. Leave comments that are thought-provoking and further the conversation.
- Spend the last 3 hours managing your social media pages. Post links to other blogs and articles. Post information about your company. Get feedback on your products. Basically, you want to get people personally connected to your company and, over time, turn your customers into “fans.”
And if you still think you need some outside help, we can do that, too. PCR Agency is an online marketing agency with a host of services, from web design to SEO to e-mail marketing. Contact us for a free analysis to get started!
By Drew Himel