One of the tricks about building a good library is finding books at every level of expertise. For new media workers, this couldn’t be more important – we all have varying degrees of skill in the ten or fifteen areas we need to approach regularly in our jobs because, let’s face it, none of us is “just an SEO” or “just a blogger.” With so many of our skills being relatively new, and so maleable to the moment of their use, we not only need books that address multiple levels of skill across a variety of disciplines, we also need material that’s at once precise in its detail, and timeless in its theory.
Inbound Marketing: Get Found using Google, Social Media and Blogs is exactly the right mix of these attributes.
The book focuses on the wide-funnel approach new media tools are allowing businesses to use to grow. The premise, that many businesses now have the ability to grow simply by making themselves available on the web, is a big deal these days – and it’s working for a lot of people. Using new media tools, companies like Zappos and foundations like Wikipedia (both featured in the book) have done amazing things; in addition to building business or awareness, they’ve participated in a fundamental cultural shift. The Pitch, as it was even five years ago, is no longer the only way to get customers. The secret is now (as it always has been, but for different reasons) to Be Remarkable.
Each chapter in the book tackles a range of subjects from simple definitions of blogging, social media, and inbound marketing theory – all the way up the chain of specificity to customer conversion on blogs, landing page best practices, and picking PR agencies. The format really appealed to me – definition, reasons behind the benefits of whichever subject was being looked at, followed by a case study highlighting a great example of people doing it right. This practicality worked quite well, lending a sense of education, and the feeling of action-ability to each subject.
For example, here are the sub-headings in the chapter on blogging, one of the longest in the book:
- Getting Your Blog Started Right
- Authoring Effective Articles
- Help Google Help You
- Making Your Articles Infectious
- give Your Articles a Push
- Starting Conversations with Comments
- Why Blogs Sometimes Fail
- The Gift That Keeps On Giving
- Consuming Content with RSS
- Subscribe to Relevant Industry Blogs
- Contribute to the Conversation
- Tracking Your Progress
- Inbound in Action: Whole Foods
In fifteen pages, Halligan and Shah take the reader through the entire cycle of effective blogging – from design needs to article development. It’s an impressive feat, especially since the information is approached from a universal best-practices direction.
And that’s just blogging – there’s so much more in this book.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media marketing, what skills to hire for when searching for marketing professionals, choosing and measuring PR agencies… The range of subjects isn’t just fit for a marketing professional, much of this information could be used by anyone doing online work – and should be! Web designers could benefit from understanding how marketers use conversion tools and metrics. Programmers who understand the needs of bloggers could help develop better systems.
The list goes on.
Inbound Marketing is an interesting read. The presentation is highly textbook-like in its instructional tone, but Halligan and Shah have a dynamic writing style that keeps interest for longer than any instructional text I’ve ever read. The subject matter at once applies to beginners looking for an understanding of basic online marketing theory – and provides insights for intermediate marketers as well. Experienced web professionals may find themselves a little under-informed by this book – but I’d still heavily recommend it as a reference, especially when looking to communicate at a more introductory level.
In short; Inbound Marketing belongs on the reference shelf of every online professional, because of its no-nonsense approach to very complicated subjects. The broadness of its information means the book itself will remain relevant for some time.
I say; buy it if you haven’t already. Get Inbound Marketing: Get Found using Google, Social Media and Blogs by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah from Amazon.
Small Update: This book has been revised and updated as of 2014 – but I haven’t read the new version yet, so I can’t endorse it in detail. I’ll probably read it eventually, and a link to any future book review I do of that edition will go here when and if it is written.