Think About Engaging People Instead of Just Getting in Front of Them
At this point in the evolution of marketing, most folks understand that outbound marketing techniques such as print advertising, direct mail, cold calling, and radio/TV exposure don't work as well as they used. The investment doesn't offer the return that it used to, and consumers are better than ever at tuning out marketing messages and skipping the commercials.
It seems that even though advertising in the newspaper or through direct mail is going out of style, businesses aren't coming to the conclusion that it isn't these specific media that are going out of style, it's the concept of interrupting and pushing marketing messages that no longer works. Because some fail to understand this, these people are simply applying the concept to online marketing and promotion, thinking that the change is in the medium and not in the strategy (although, you could argue that both are changing).
Online Marketing and Promotion isn't Outbound Marketing
Online marketing and promotion doesn't work that way. If you get tons of traffic to your website, this doesn't necessarily translate to tons of people who will buy your product or service right then and there. If you write enough press releases, push enough social media updates, and buy enough pay-per-click advertising, this doesn't necessarily mean that the traffic will get will convert on your website. If you write wonderful sales copy and ask on every single page to contact you about a purchase, this doesn't necessarily mean that everyone will be convinced to buy right then and there. Online marketing and promotion isn't shouting on the Internet, it's doing things that are worth talking about and sharing.
Thousands of inbound links isn't all that it takes to rank high on search engines. For example, one our previous clients has over 900 inbound links. However, you can't find it on the first three pages of search results when searching for the service they provide. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the client didn't believe blogging was good for SEO, and only wanted inbound links, and failed to understand that the two work together. Second, they primarily wanted inbound links to their homepage using their brand name as the anchor text. Third, since the main way they wanted inbound links was through guest blogging, this meant that every single guest post had some sort of marketing message to it, as it had to mention the brand and include a link to the home page. It's obvious from this client's requests and strategy that they didn't care about providing value to potential customers or doing anything to engage people. They simply cared about getting in front of people and pushing a marketing message.
Instead, the client should have thought about what they could do to be valuable to their potential customers, to educate them about their service, and what they could do to outshine their competition. Inbound links should have been on the backburner, because if they did things that were valuable, that educated, and that outshined the rest, the inbound links wouldn't have been any problem. When it came to those guest posts, they should have wanted content that positioned them as an industry expert, that offered great insight on current events, and that offered great advice about using their service and its broader context.
Inbound Marketing Pulls People In and Engages
"Either write something worth reading, or do something worth writing." - Benjamin Franklin
Good online marketing and promotion means creating content worth reading, or creating content that's worth it for others to share and to write about. It's not about marketing messages and making sales; it's about being valuable and positioning yourself as a trusted resource to potential customers. Stop broadcasting and talking about yourself! Draw people in by doing something or writing something interesting because, for your information, your company and your products/services are not interesting.