With the advent of the internet and social media, a new concept of advertising arose. It proposed that traditional marketing strategies were both expensive and ineffective. Hubspot coined a term for this concept—inbound marketing. What is inbound marketing? Simply defined, any strategy which leverages the power of customer search is inbound. It assumes the consumer prefers to look for answers to their needs, rather than having companies tell them what they should want. So instead of running ad campaigns on TV and radio, publishing slick spreads in newspapers or magazines, or cluttering mail boxes with direct mail pieces—inbound marketers create content to attract their customers.
- They engage in blogging.
- They publish informational white papers.
- They generate ebooks filled with useful information.
- They produce podcasts.
- They offer free webinars.
- They leverage social media.
- They focus on search engine optimization (SEO).
- They spend their advertising dollar on pay per click (PPC).
For ultimate success, each one of these activities must focus on delivering content to a specific target group. When a business has more than one target consumer type, it must establish another inbound marketing campaign for it.
Focus of Inbound Marketing
There’s a different emphasis in this marketing approach. It’s about delivering something your target customer values. You aren’t pushing your product onto unwilling consumers. You aren’t intruding into their space. Some of the typical outbound marketing strategies are extremely intrusive. Telemarketing is the worst, whether the caller is raising funds for worthy causes or promoting a product. The ‘get, get, get’ tone of ‘interruption marketing’ often hurts far more than it helps.
Inbound marketing is as much about giving as receiving. You earn the respect of your potential customer first by proving you have something they need. You earn their confidence through evidence.
- Your blogs aren’t about how great your product or service is. You write informative and helpful information, proving the greatness of the product or service.
- Your white papers and ebooks are filled with practical information and use actual experiences, while they avoid a boasting tone.
- Your podcasts and/or webinars deliver genuine value whether they lead to cash earnings or not.
- You engage in social media to provide solutions, not brag.
- Your email campaigns always ask for customer opt-in. You never spam!
Benefits of Inbound Marketing
Today’s consumer is extremely wary. The moment a phone call begins with, “This is not a sales call,” defenses go up. “What are you going to try to sell me on today?” It’s one of the main reasons 200 million people have signed up with the Do Not Call Registry. Unless a TV ad is unusually entertaining, statistics say 85% of people will fast forward through it or go do something else for its duration. It is far more difficult to purchase your customers’ interest than it is to nurture an existing curiosity, especially for consumers under 40.
Generally, inbound marketing is much more cost effective than outbound. It costs far less per lead when inbound marketing strategies are the primary means of closing new customers. Hubspot reports that the number of companies using social media, blogging, follow-up email marketing and SEO continues to increase, while dependence on traditional advertising methods continues to decrease. Seeking a deeper understanding of this selling method is worth the investment. With the right software and enough time allotted, results are quiet easy to track. However, when revenues are compared to the investment made into inbound strategies versus outbound techniques, most businesses experience significant reductions in advertising costs associated with attracting customers.