Inbound Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and SEO, Oh My!

In the simplest possible terms, social media marketing and SEO are both tools used within the broader marketing system that is inbound marketing. Once you move past that level, however, it gets a bit more complicated. Let’s start from the beginning.

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So, what is inbound marketing?

According to HubSpot, inbound marketing is a methodology where you attract, engage, and delight your customers using a variety of tools. Inbound tactics use online content to attract target customers to the company's website by providing content that is tailored towards your target audience/buyer personas and their needs. This is content that provides information relevant to the topics they are searching for and answers questions they might not even be aware of yet. Your blog may be the most powerful of these inbound marketing tools.

Providing excellent service throughout the entire marketing process as well as after the customer has purchased from you sets them up to become advocates for, and promoters of, your brand. Excellent service is its own marketing strategy. The delighted and empowered customers will advocate for your business through their own networks, both online and in-person.

Inbound marketing activities draw visitors and not by making a ton of noise to get their attention. It's about earning the attention of potential customers, making the company easier to find online, and drawing them to the website by producing interesting and helpful content. If you're doing Inbound Marketing right, then you're aligning the content you publish with your target audience's interests. Thus, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert to customers, close deals with, and delight over time. Hopefully, then, they go forth and advocate your goods and services for you.


Next, what is social media marketing?

Social media is a core component of inbound marketing methodology. Using social media for marketing allows you to connect in an authentic manner with your audience on a personal level. Doing so allows you to humanize your brand. By promoting your brand and content on the various social media platforms, you increase brand awareness, drive traffic, and generate leads. Social Media platforms include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram among others.

For social media marketing to be successful, companies must create content to promote their products and services, and that content must be tailored to the specific platform where they share it. Paying attention to the particulars of each platform and the demographics of each audience enables companies to boost conversions better and increase brand awareness by driving up engagement. Engagement includes things like shares, comments, likes, and reposts.

By including direct links to their website in their profile, bio, and posts, they are further bolstering brand awareness. And because they're communicating with an audience of people that have opted to engage with them by following their account, these companies will also see an improved lead generation, conversion rates, and increased sales.

Social media enables you to build lasting relationships by connecting and engaging with your followers. This happens when you interact with them on your posts, responding to comments and questions. You provide answers to questions and relevant useful information, and even links to other potentially useful sites. You can ask them questions about your products, and you can identify their pain points. You can create giveaways to build trust further and show how much you value their input and support.

You can keep tabs on your competitors via social media. You can see what tactics are working, or not working, for them, as well as the campaigns they're implementing for the products they're promoting. You can also see the level of interaction between these competitors and their followers.


Last, but not least, where does search engine optimization (SEO) fit in?

SEO is the process of optimizing a website and its content so that it receives a higher ranking and thus receives more website traffic from the SERPs (search engine results pages).

Short, informational, spoken queries can now be addressed by digital assistants such as Siri or Alexa. They have also started to process more local, conversational, and customized searches. As a result of this emerging behavior, businesses are responding and changing the way they frame information. Instead of catering to Google's manual search algorithm, you can optimize your content by framing it around questions.

When you optimize your website to rank higher on SERPs you increase the amount of organic traffic to your site. There are various ways to use SEO to generate qualified traffic to your website:

On-page SEO focuses on all the content that exists on the page when you look at a website. Thorough keyword research and specifically determining a keyword's search volume and the searcher's intent can help you answer questions for prospects and rank higher on the SERPs. Using relevant alt-text descriptions and relevant meta tag are also part of on-page SEO.

Off-page SEO focuses on any activity that's off the page and can be optimized to increase traffic to your website. Primarily this means inbound links, or backlinks. The relative authority of the publishers you link from, and the number you link from, affect how highly you rank for your keywords. You need to network with other publishers, write guest posts that link back to your website, and generate external attention so that you get the backlinks you need to move your website up the SERPs.

Technical SEO focuses on the backend of your website. This refers to how your pages are coded. Forms of technical SEO that can increase your website's loading speed include image compression, structured data, and CSS file optimization; and this is an important ranking factor to search engines like Google.


Why hasn't there been any discussion of content marketing?


Our purpose here today was to differentiate between inbound marketing, SEO, and social media marketing, and we've done that. But just a few words about content marketing seem called for in this context. Content marketing is a strategy that uses helpful, entertaining, and interesting content in order to increase brand awareness and perception. The goal is to become known to future consumers/clients rather than just being an annoying brand that continuously screams advertising messages.

Content marketing is a subset of inbound marketing: there is no inbound without content. There is debate as to what counts as content and what is not. Blog posts are content, infographics, ebooks, white papers, and videos are content. Social media posts can be content but not every tweet is content as far as your inbound marketing strategy.

Content helps fuel your inbound strategy but there are other inbound projects that can exist outside the content marketer's scope, like technical SEO, freemium trials, or interactive tools. Your inbound initiative should be inclusive of your content assets, but not limited to them.

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Shelley's been in Seattle practically since the dawn of time. She enjoys having fun (seriously) with research and writing. In her off hours she reads and walks, although not at the same time -- because tripping over sidewalks is embarrassing.

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