Inbound marketing has made marketing more permission-based and less interruptive. Marketers no longer have to beg for customer attention; they can earn it. Inbound marketing's dramatically low cost per lead has helped level the playing field for businesses that used to be steamrolled by bigger players in their niche purely on the basis of their massive marketing budgets.

Marketing to People Who Want to Give You Attention

The rapid adoption of inbound marketing also stems from the fact that it helps businesses market their products and services to people who hate being marketed to. Outbound marketing tactics, such as cold calling, television ads, and radio ads, have never been appreciated by customers. The outbound methodology of pulling customers by overwhelming them with marketing messages bugs the heck out of them.

However, inbound marketing—with its focus on attracting, converting, closing, and delighting customers—is a more credible way of earning customer attention and consumer trust.

Though better website traffic, leads, and conversion is a natural outcome of any successful inbound marketing campaign, the nature of inbound makes it perfectly capable of improving a business's online reputation.

In fact, blending your inbound and online reputation management strategy is an idea that makes a great deal of sense.

The Driver of Your Inbound Marketing and Reputation Management Strategy

The success or failure of an inbound campaign rests on the quality of content created and published by your business. Its usefulness determines its "shareworthiness." The ideal way to go about creating such content is to understand your customers and their needs, and coming up with content that satisfies those needs.

Creating content that speaks to your target audience and answers their questions, publishing this content on your website blog or guest blogging sites, and sharing those links across social media is one of the best ways of getting visitors to your site. They come to your site because they're impressed with your content. It adds value to their lives at different levels. This is the moment that content becomes the bridge between your inbound and reputation management strategy.

Effective content helps build your brand reputation. You earn the trust of your audience on the back of some solid content. Each content piece helps build your online reputation brick by brick.

Inbound Marketing as a Solution for Negative Brand Mentions

An essential component of an online reputation management strategy is looking out for negative brand mentions, feedback, and conversations. For example, if a blog post receives a negative mention, you need to respond to it in the comments section. If you've received negative feedback through Twitter, an immediate response through the same channel is a must.

But just addressing negative mentions is not enough to rebuild a tattered reputation. Using inbound marketing will help you take corrective action.

Inbound is not only about providing remarkable content to target users but also remembering them after they've become your customers.

Sustained customer engagement is a huge part of inbound marketing. If done right, you are creating an ecosystem for taking quick, convenient, and satisfactory remedial action instead of battling negative feedback all over the Web and beyond.

The inability to convey concerns about a product or service directly to a business is usually why customers share their negative opinions about your business with everybody. Lack of immediate response to their complaint is another reason why this happens.

Sustained engagement nullifies those issues. Some of the top brands are using social customer care to offer real-time customer support, which also plays a role in protecting their online reputation.

Protecting a Brand From a Swarm Attack

Your brand will be subject to swarm attacks from your competitors if it's begun capturing a sizable market share. Attacks will come from all quarters, such as via SEO, social media, negative on-site reviews, and more. Just about every digital assassination tactic will be used against your brand, and while you may be aware of what your competitors are up to, responding to this attack with an online reputation management strategy might not be enough to sanitize your brand from such attacks.

Look towards inbound marketing to play a preventive role to ward off threats to your brand reputation. The key components of an inbound strategy—namely SEO, content marketing, and social media together—do enough to strengthen your brand against those threats.

Top-notch SEO ensures your website is placed at the top of SERPs. Moreover, content marketing not only helps further strengthen SEO efforts but also builds trust. That trust is ferried across to its intended recipients through the sharing and re-sharing of your content.

Doing so doesn't make you immune from a "swarm attack," but the strength of your online presence founded on these three pillars of inbound marketing makes challenging your online reputation a frivolous exercise with very little to show for it. A majority of your competitors might not see any merit in attacking your brand's reputation.

Turning Target Audiences Into Brand Defenders

Personal interactions are a part and parcel of inbound marketing. You connect with potential customers at a personal level by humanizing your brand. This facilitates the next level of customer engagement through social media.

Inbound ensures customers feel more invested in the brand; it allows you to bring home the point that the brand cares about them and their needs, and is doing everything to meet their expectations. This makes your existing customers brand loyalists and brand champions. They become your first line of defense and offense against negative reviews.

* * *

Inbound marketing has a far greater role to play than the mechanics of your reputation management strategy. Marrying your inbound and online reputation strategies is a great way of bringing a degree of seamlessness to the proceedings.

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image of John  Siebert

John Siebert is president and CEO of Tranquil Blue, a website-design company focusing on all kinds of website design, mobile app development, and search engine marketing.

LinkedIn: John Siebert