What mode of marketing are you using for your website? In an online environment, inbound marketing is the most worthwhile investment, but recent developments in social media and online PR might just be able to balance out the playing field. Before all the buzz about inbound marketing, interruption marketing and outbound efforts — like in real life — were norm in the cyber realm. But along with the speed of development of the Internet, these marketing modes faded out and lost to the cost-efficiency of search optimisation and inbound marketing.
Inbound Marketing is “In”
With all the challenges facing outbound marketing in an online environment and the practical advantages of inbound marketing, interruption and outbound efforts soon gave way to a plethora of inbound marketing methods. There were simply too many obstacles to effective interruption and outbound marketing:
- Permission marketing — before you can even reach out to “interrupt” someone through email, for instance, you need to gain permission in some form
- Spam filters — email spam filters can be quite strict, and today spam filters are everywhere: comment threads, discussion boards, basically anywhere you can use to go for interruption or outbound methods
- Ad blockers — Display ads are suffering from the development of ad blockers; plugins, add-ons, and other tools that block ads within webpages are effective, simple, and free
Now compare that to the efficiency and efficacy of inbound marketing:
- Less marketing cost — You do not need to reach out to people; you market to an “inbound” audience
- More targeted — Because you are advertising to an “inbound” audience, you can leverage their initial interest to make your marketing more effective
- More automated — Bringing visitors in is as simple as practising good search optimisation; leading them into a sales funnel can be as simple as placing an effective call to action; engaging potential customers can be as straightforward as blogging to the right market segment
Evidently, outbound was “out,” and inbound was “in.” But still, there can be some uses for traditional outbound marketing, though limited. With the rise of social media and the evolution of online PR, however, there is hope for revamping outbound marketing efforts with something fresh, new, and nearly as effective as inbound marketing.
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Online PR: Revamping Public Relations on the Web
The most typical PR move for any website is publishing press releases. Cliché, true, but at its height, press release syndication was quite effective. Today, however, the quality and need for press releases have dimmed. Why distribute press releases when you can’t get them to the proper platforms anyway — the big online media outlets that can spread your news, your business to a large audience fast?
This may indeed be the crux of real life public relations and press release distribution, but if there’s anything we should have learned from a bit over two decades of the Internet’s existence, it’s that the congruence between real life and cyber life go only so far. The approach to public relations tactics in real markets and media should not be the same online. For small to mid-sized businesses which comprise a vast majority of online businesses on the web today, press release distribution can be used as an effective outbound marketing tactic in a few easy steps:
- Craft an official, high-quality, newsworthy press release
- Repurpose content from the original press release and realign (target) the content to several market segments, such as potential media outlets, customers, business partners, and even niche blogs that can help spread the word
- Post your official press release in your website and your business blog
- Spread your official press release to two or three highly trusted and reputable press release distribution services
- Spread your other (targeted) press releases to other press release sites (similarly reputable but slightly on a smaller scale, perhaps, than the first few services you sent your official press release to), related niche blogs who are willing to spread the news, and social news distribution sites (Digg, Reddit, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc)
- Remember to keep your linking structure stable — link every press release to the official release on your website, or to the blog post of the announcement
- Repurpose the appropriate press release content into social content, and pitch in a promotion, coupon code, or anything else that will incite some social buzz and create urgency for your press release
- Post blogs or updates about the topic of the press release while it’s still hot and recent
- Make the press release (or link to it) prominent in your home page, at least until it’s not as recent
Notice that we already touched upon social media, our other outbound marketing platform.
Social Media: a New Revolution
Social media isn’t entirely inbound, and it isn’t entirely outbound either. The continuously evolving field of social media marketing is still a shape-shifting mesh of trends, viral news, and link and display ads that is sweeping up the Internet marketing industry. But since it’s neither entirely inbound nor outbound, you can use it for both.
The key to any successful social media marketing tactic is engagement. Create social buzz, focus a discussion on your brand, business, goods, or services, and you reap boosts in organic and directed traffic, higher search rankings through link sharing, better conversion because of the audience engagement, word of mouth marketing, and a better, more authoritative position in your niche. Here is a step-by-step idea on how you can turn your social media profiles into outbound marketing vehicles:
- Craft several social content material timed with a special PR event from your business (you need several because what you post on Twitter will be vastly different from what you post on Pinterest or Facebook)
- Spread these content materials throughout all your profiles, pages, and accounts
- Engage your audience by starting a relevant poll, discussion, promotion, or contest, preferably a campaign where they need to tell their social contacts (contests work great for this goal)
- Bolster the social buzz by posting updates on your blog and on your social profiles
- Remember to lead interested parties reached by your campaigns to your website, and into your sales funnel
From here, your outbound efforts have turned over engaged audiences to your inbound marketing methods.
If you can pull it off correctly, you can impact your marketing performance, your revenue, your authority, and your business growth through using social media and online PR as “refreshed” outbound marketing tactics.