Inbound marketing can be puzzling. Not only is it a relatively new idea, the specifics change on a daily basis. There are so many buzzwords, acronyms, and new social media sites popping up that it can seem like too much to understand. On this page I'll explain what inbound marketing is, why you would want to use it, and how we can help you make the most of it.
Sometimes it's easiest to start by explaining what inbound marketing is not.
A lot of traditional advertising can be classified as "outbound marketing," or "push" marketing. This could be direct mailings to a purchased list, cold calls, billboards, radio and TV spots, banner ads, door-to-door sales, etc. It's a situation where a company tries to "push" their way in by buying (or begging.)
Can it be effective? Sure, when used correctly. But no one really likes it, and it's becoming less effective every day as people gain greater control over where/how they obtain information. Recent research shows that 86% of people skip through television commercials and 44% of direct mail is never even opened. (Source)
There is a better way...
Inbound marketing takes a new approach. Rather than forcing your advertising onto people, the aim is to draw people in by earning their trust and delivering value in such a way that will pull them in. You're essentially making them want to discover your product or service.
The process consists of three phases: Get found, Convert, and Analyze. Put yourself out there where prospects will find you, interact with them to convert them to clients/customers, then analyze everything you did to see what works and what does not (so you constantly improve.)
This is some of what's involved:
With those tools and marketing methods, you can get in front of your target customers, engage them, convert them to buyers, and track each step along the way.
Inbound marketing won't work for every business. But when it makes sense, you can get great results for less money than you'd spend on traditional ad campaigns.
A small business that deals in high dollar value products, especially ones which customers research extensively, is particularly well-suited to this approach. Service-based businesses requiring a high-level of knowledge and expertise also do well. These are situations where prospects are more likely to buy from or hire someone who demonstrates expertise or provides value before the sale.
Wal-Mart, for example, has no need to rush to inbound marketing. People will keep shopping there for low prices. But what if you sell snowboards? You can help people figure out the best board for their needs, tell them where to find the best snow, teach them basic skills, etc. You end up being an integral part of their buying process.
Similarly, Coca-Cola is not an ideal candidate. A consumer is unlikely to devote a large amount of time to the decision-making process when it comes to grabbing a bottle of soda. A smaller manufacturer selling niche drinks for $4 each, though, could have great success. People are likely buying the drink for health reasons, so there are plenty of opportunities to educate them about nutrients, what to avoid in your drinks, etc.
Though it may sound magical, inbound marketing isn't all roses, rainbows, and unicorns. It takes work. Lots of work. There is a lot of thinking, planning, executing, and analyzing.
There is also a lot of maintenance. See, a lot of inbound marketing methods create a two-way conversation, and that's a lot tougher to manage than a one-sided advertisement.
Another problem is that it's new. If you're stuck in a traditional mindset, inbound marketing is hard to understand and harder to measure. It's so different from traditional advertising that there can be strong resistance (not from consumers, but from internal marketing managers.)
Fortunately, the benefits make up for it...
Here are some of the benefits of inbound marketing compared to traditional advertising:
If you want to see those benefits at your company, consider inbound marketing this year.
You don't have to go it alone. We can design and implement an inbound marketing strategy that fits your company. Just choose an option below:
Or, return to the Knowledge Base.
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