You’ve probably heard the term inbound marketing. You’ve also probably heard how important it is to your online marketing efforts. So what is it? It’s permission based marketing – or what used to be called the not so exciting “opt-in” marketing.
Whatever you call it, it’s when the prospect takes active steps – signing up for a newsletter/mailing list, following a blog/company page/Twitter account – to participate in a “relationship” with you/your company.
As you noticed, most of that relationship building is taking place online. Thanks to technology, empowered consumers have even more control over the messages they receive. They get to choose who and which companies they interact with online. And familiarity online translates into action offline.
So what does a typical permission based marketing plan look like? It starts with an attractive and easy to navigate website where visitors can sign up for newsletters/reports, listing feeds or follow you on social networks. Add a blog where visitors can gain even more information about you and your company and you’ve got an inbound marketing platform in place.
But just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll come. You’ve got to be found. Search engine optimization is one way to do draw visitors but pure inbound marketing relies on two other important techniques that lead to organic discovery. In other words, the searcher finds you.
Providing useful information instills trust and enhances authority, or that’s the theory at least. Your website, blog posts, social networking activities and white papers/reports are all examples of content marketing. This content is indexed by search engines and if there’s enough of high quality content that visitors are accessing, you’ll rank higher in the results.
Earned media is getting your name out “there” without paying for it. Being quoted or profiled in a publication, appearing in a video, or links to your site from other sites. But the new form of earned media is social sharing, i.e., others forwarding your content along to their friends/followers. More sharing brings more followers and more influence. Think of it as an electronic version of word of mouth.
Inbound marketing sounds simple in theory but in practice, it requires constant effort to churn out content, actively listen and cautiously engage. Plus you need to guard against follower fatigue – and your own. You’ve always got to be on the lookout for new approaches, compelling topics and channels from which to acquire new “relationships.”
The good news is that there’s solid evidence that inbound marketing results in better ROI and more conversions. After all, if someone chooses to engage with you or your company, they’ve literally got one foot in your door.
What seems to be difficult for CRE agents is the waiting for the other foot – and committing time to outbound marketing when the payoff seems so far away. Plus, other marketing strategies still work well enough that maybe they don’t think they need to bother. But there’s no reason you can’t do both especially if you’re competition is. Why give them the online advantage?
Image by Gavin Llewellyn