What is inbound marketing and how does it relate to SEO? How do you make those strategies work for your startup? In our SEO masterclass none other than Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz.com and co-founder of inbound.org, answered those questions for you.
In the first part of his class Rand explained the differences between inbound and outbound marketing channels, and why any company should strive to create what he calls an “inbound marketing flywheel”.
Watch his video or read the recap below.
##Recap of the video
###Inbound vs. outbound
SEO can be a powerful channel for many companies but in order to work well it needs to be executed as part of an inbound marketing strategy that includes other channels. So what exactly is inbound marketing compared to outbound?
Outbound marketing refers to advertising that gets pushed in front of the user and interrupts them when they are focused on something else. Classic examples from the offline world would be commercial breaks that interrupt a football game or a telemarketer calling you at home while you are cooking your lunch. In the online world typical examples of outbound strategies would be intrusive ads on a website or unwanted email promotions.
Inbound marketing on the other hand tries to earn the user’s attention by providing valuable content when there is a real need for that content. Inbound marketing strategies include SEO, content promotion on social networks or highly relevant, non-promotional email newsletters.
The line between outbound and inbound is often blurry. For example AdWords ads could be considered an interruption to the user when accessing the search results, but when targeted correctly an AdWords ad can be as relevant as the first organic search result. A highly personalized product remarketing strategy is another example that does not fit 100% in the outbound bucket. The user already had an interaction with your brand and showed interest in a certain product. So, showing related ads via remarketing could be highly relevant for the user and not be considered an interruption.
One characteristic that is very common on the outbound side is â€œpay to playâ€. Most of these channels require you to pay in order to â€œearnâ€ the right to interrupt the user. AdWords, Facebook ads, Twitter ads, remarketing, paid app installs - all of those outbound channels are very MBA-friendly as they provide you with clear conversion and attribution metrics that allow you to keep a tight grip on your marketing spend and ROI.
Inbound channels on the other hand do not allow you to measure as precisely. The attribution of conversions to individual marketing actions is often very difficult. It is not entirely clear when or whether the investments you made in content creation will pay off. Will people share your article? Will you earn links? Will this content boost your traffic? When will it happen? SEO is a perfect example of an inbound channel that is very hard to control.
So why even bother? As Rand points out in the above video, there is a very simple answer: People want this content more than ads. 82% of the clicks on Google search result pages go to organic results, and only 1% of the traffic on Facebook goes to ads and promoted content. So just relying on outbound channels that you can control makes you lose out on a lot of traffic and exposure. This potential can only be unlocked with a well executed inbound strategy.
###The inbound flywheel
Rand’s ideal scenario is what he calls the inbound flywheel. What were the steps to get this flywheel going in the case of Moz?
Almost any company can follow MOZ’s process and start building its own flywheel. The challenge is of course execution. It took Moz more than 2 years to get it going, and to catch the attention of the SEO and marketing community. But once you get it going, every time you push out new content, you will automatically reach thousands of people who in return will amplify your distribution and help you reach even more people. Every time you publish a good article or a useful video the effect of the flywheel will grow your community.
Those amplification and viral effects should be the end goal of any well executed inbound campaign, according to Rand Fishkin. In conclusion, the flywheel is so powerful because it:
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/2580540522”>An early steam engine via http://photopin.com”>photopinhttps://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)