Digital marketing is a much more complicated task than it was in the past. In the old days, as long as you built a solid email list and bought a few display ads and combined that with SEO you were considered in good shape. As search engines entered the ad game, social media rose to prominence, and ad networks got better at using targeted ads, online marketing plans became much more complicated.

While the tools we have had multiplied, online marketing can be broken up into various buckets like content marketing, social media marketing, inbound marketing, and search engine marketing (to just name a few). Today we’re going to look at two of those areas: Inbound Marketing and Search Engine Marketing.

In order to fully understand the essential roles that inbound marketing and SEM play in building your brand and growing your business, it’s best to begin by defining each term separately.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a methodology that attracts customers with content and experiences that are valuable, relevant and tailored to them. While outbound marketing may interrupt users with content they don’t necessarily need, inbound marketing creates connections they are searching for and solves their existing problems.

It revolves around valuing and empowering consumers to achieve their goals at any stage of their journey with your product or service. The powerful underlying idea of inbound marketing is that when your visitors find success and pass their experience on to others, it brings new prospects, thus creating a self-sustaining loop. In other words, when they succeed, you succeed.

Inbound marketing can be applied in three ways:

  • Attraction: drawing in strong prospects with valuable content to establish your brand as a trusted source worthy of their engagement.
  • Engagement: providing insights and solutions that align with visitors’ goals and pain points, so they are moved to buy from you.
  • Delight: offering help and support to empower prospects to be successful with their purchases.

Inbound marketing is all about driving traffic from online or off to a specific page. Powerful ways of attaining this goal include directing prospects from print to digital mediums, driving traffic from social media and the use of SEO-focused content.

What Is SEM?

SEM stands for search engine marketing. While SEM utilizes some of the same skills as search engine optimization—understanding and implementing keywords in the ways your desired users are searching—SEM refers to only the money-backed aspect of marketing via search engines.

It involves purchasing pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-click (CPC)  ads that will appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) for Google Ads, Bing Ads, Yahoo Ads, or ads from other search engines. Whenever you give search engines money to display on their SERPs, you’re using SEM.

What’s the Connection Between Inbound Marketing and SEM?

The most effective way to leverage the advantages of inbound marketing is through SEM activities. SEM is unique in that your customers begin the conversation when they initiate a query on a topic relevant to your product or service. It’s at this point where you as a paying advertiser can insert your presence to the conversation. The primary idea is to design and create web pages that will make it easy for prospects to find you.

While inbound marketing brings in leads organically and indefinitely, paid SEM strategies are only effective while you’re paying for them. Whether or not pursuing paid ads will benefit your business will depend on how closely you can match these activities with your target acquisition cost. The data gathered from organic search analytics and PPC campaigns can help you set goals and develop campaigns that are more effective, a tactic used in advanced SEM strategies.

Putting the Puzzle Together

The bottom line is that inbound marketing and SEM are vital to get you in front of the right audience. In order to achieve this goal, you must understand your audience through research, tracking, personas and goal-setting. Without understanding your audience, you might not be talking to the people that actually need your products or services.

At Lform, we can help with putting together this multi-piece puzzle. Just contact our experts and we’ll talk about your needs and goals to make your marketing campaigns a success!

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