What is Inbound Marketing and Does it Still Work?

Also known as content marketing, inbound marketing has been around for a while and has helped businesses tell their story to the online community. Perhaps the most common form of content marketing is a website blog. The reason why marketers suggest having a blog is to help with search engine optimization. In other words, to help potential clients or at least internet users, find you.

Content marketing / Greenboard (Click for more)The flip side of inbound marketing is advertising. Advertising is media you pay for; inbound marketing is media you earn. At least that’s how it has been up until now. That’s because while effective in the beginning, inbound marketing has proliferated and the market for reader’s eyes has become more competitive. According to TrackMaven, the number of business blog posts has increased 800 percent in the past five years while social shares per posts have decreased by 89 percent. It’s becoming increasingly necessary to supplement content with paid online advertisements to cut through the clutter.

A blog is not the only form of inbound marketing. Anything you can create to provide value online is content marketing. Videos, podcasts, whitepapers, slideshows, and images are other examples. Social media has helped the viability of inbound marketing. Authoring a post on LinkedIn or “micro-blogging” on Twitter are also forms of inbound marketing.

Early adopters benefitted significantly from blogging and posting on social media. That space has become crowded. If you have been using social media for a while or monitoring inbound links on a blog, you may have noticed it has become a lot harder to make headway.

Is Inbound Marketing Still Effective?

Inbound marketing is effective because it is not advertising. Many studies show consumers trust content and social shares over advertising. For quality content, that is unlikely to change. Even when quality content is promoted through paid ads on Facebook, Google or elsewhere, it retains this advantage. Content shared via a personal account is most effective. Content marketing distributed through company channels is more likely perceived as advertising.

Does it have to go Viral?

There’s no doubt that viral content is desirable. However, for every piece of content that goes viral there are likely at least hundreds of thousands that do not. Many items that do go viral are in some way connected to a celebrity. Content can go viral, but creating viral content is not simple (How many aspiring actors become a star?) One estimate reveals that five percent of content gets 95 percent of engagement. You can spend a significant amount of time and effort to try to create content that will go viral, become dismayed and give up on content marketing.

Instead, aim for content that is relevant and consistent. Share your knowledge on topics of interest to your desired audience. Use short paragraphs and give considerable thought to your title. Additional tips are available at this link.

How Can I Advertise My Content?

Promoted posts on Facebook are an obvious way. Facebook makes it pretty simple to target a post to current clients or people with a particular interest in a geographic area. You can set the desired budget for how much you want to spend. Google offers link and display ads that will show up as sponsored content in a web search. You can manage Google ads from Adsense.Google.com. Other social media sites offer to advertise as well. Content is king, however. Don’t invest in sponsored posts or other ads without having the relevant content in place. Consistently creating and sharing of relevant content will help build an audience and help you get the most out of inbound content marketing.

About Eric Miller

Eric Miller works in Marketing and Communications at LevelFirst, IIAT's MGA and Brokerage Unit and with IIAT Advantage.
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