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Inbound Marketing is still a relatively new and quickly trending marketing strategy that was coined a few years ago by HubSpot. While it has fast become a high priority for companies looking to increase their awareness, traffic, and revenues via the Web, Inbound Marketing is often confused with search engine optimization.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Wikipedia defines Inbound Marketing as:
Inbound marketing is a style of marketing that essentially focuses on getting found by customers. Marketers “earn their way in” (via publishing helpful information on a blog etc.) in contrast to outbound marketing where they used to have to “buy, beg, or bug their way in” (via paid advertisements, issuing press releases in the hope they get picked up by the trade press, or paying commissioned sales people, respectively).
In short, Inbound Marketing is a way to ”get found online” by publishing information on the web and customers finding your published content. This allows your company, website and brand to earn credibility as the customer finds your content (provided they also find value in that content), making them more likely to trust your information, buy your products, recommend you to peers, etc. Put another way… Inbound Marketing = Getting Found by Customers
There is a bit of a Field of Dreams “if you build it, they will come” assumption with inbound marketing. Just because you are publishing articles, white papers and blog posts does not mean customers will ever find your content. Why? Because publishing content, even great content, does not mean that search engines will find you, rank you high enough to drive meaningful traffic or that websites will link to you and promote your content. To do all that, you need search engine optimization (SEO).
What is Search Engine Optimization?
SEOMoz, a hugely popular search engine optimization company and online community, define SEO as the following:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the active practice of optimizing a web site by improving internal and external aspects in order to increase the traffic the site receives from search engines.
In short, SEO is a marketing strategy that is the complex process of creating, publishing, promoting and optimizing your web site to maximize your ability to “get found” by search engines that will potentially drive traffic and customers to your site. Put another way… SEO = Getting Found by Search Engines
Within the internet marketing and SEO communities, Inbound Marketing is simply thought of as accessibility and content creation, along with the hundreds of other factors taken into account by SEO rankings.
SEO + Inbound Marketing = Getting Found (by search engines AND customers)
SEO not only encompasses publishing content to get found by customers, but the underlying process that inbound marketing assumes – making sure that your content can be found by search engines so that it can in turn be found by customers.
As you contemplate your Inbound Marketing strategy, take into account this classic quote: “great content is no substitute for great marketing.” A strong advertising, promotional, social media, inbound selling and/or SEO campaign has the ability to attract far more attention than the content may “deserve”. Seemingly unfair, it’s a principle on which all of capitalism has functioned for the last few hundred years. Spreading the word is often just as important (or more so) than being right, being honest or being valuable – just look at the world of politics.