When I started in this business back in 2009, there were a number of different component parts to online marketing.
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
But they were all just that - separate. They contributed to the overall effect but no business owner really thought about actually putting them together into a system to create customers. They were obsessed by ranking and felt that the only way to generate leads was to be on the front page of Google for the most competitive short tail keywords.
Fast forward to 2015 and Inbound Marketing is where it's at these days. Joining up the disparate dots of your online efforts and putting your business in front of people who are looking for solutions on their smart phones and tablets
Most business owners in the UK are some way behind our American cousins when it comes to understanding Inbound so, as a beginner, where do you learn about inbound marketing?
For pretty much everyone, a question like that involves typing it into Google.
1. Surfing the Internet
Wikipedia says that:
Inbound marketing is promoting a company through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, enewsletters, whitepapers, SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing which serve to attract customers.
In contrast, buying attention and traditional advertising are considered "outbound marketing".
Inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in, rather than marketers having to go out to get prospects' attention. Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found,] and draws customers to the website by producing interesting content. Inbound marketing methodologies are used to reach potential customers at various levels of brand awareness.
The inbound marketing term was coined by HubSpot’s Brian Halligan in 2005.
It all sounds very sensible and there are numerous blog posts on the subject that can point you in the right direction. But it's all very disconnected. And very confusing for the absolute beginner who doesn't know where to start..
2. Hubspot's Inbound Certification
Having coined the term in the first place and spent nearly a decade blogging around the subject, Hubspot has become almost ubiquitous with the term Inbound Marketing. The dominate organic search on both Google and Bing.
And there really is no better way to learn about the subject than by sitting down in front of your computer and doing the free Inbound Certification.
Starting as a complete beginner, you can turn yourself into an inbound marketer with a strategy in just a couple of days. Our very own Rob recently did exactly that and you can read about his experience here.
Jon and I also found taking the certification a very positive experience. We had all the dots but they just weren't joined up until we started applying Inbound through Hubspot's comprehensive dashboard.
3. Inbound.org Forum
When I first signed up for the Inbound.org forum last year, it was a bit of a ghost town. There were some people from the UK but none of them actually seemed to be doing anything marketing related, let alone inbound.
Over the last few months, Inbound.org has switched gears and become a hub for inbound marketers to share ideas and exchange experiences in this brave new world.
It's a great place to go to get moral support, hear real life case studies and get expert answers on any questions or problems you are having.
4. Seminars and Workshops
Some of the bigger Inbound agencies have started to run free online webinars on the component parts of Inbound and these can be really useful.
There are also one or two real life events in the UK that are trying to harness the same excitement as the main Inbound event hosted by Hubspot in Boston in September. With typical British understatement, many UK business owners seem underwhemed by the perceived value of these.
Once you've passed your Inbound Certification, bolstered your courage at the Inbound.org forum and refreshed your knowledge at seminars and workshops online and in the real world, there really is no better way to learn about Inbound Marketing than actually doing it.
Who is your ideal customer?
What is their biggest pain point that your product/service could solve?
Create an offer around the solutions to that problem.
Write an optimised blog post that addresses the painpoints of your ideal customer. Add an email capture form to the bottom that links out to your offer.
Once someone has given their email in return for the offer, you have the ability to send them further highly relevant, remarkable content to establish yourself as the best supplier of that solution.