As you might have noticed, the shift in marketing today is huge. Many businesses are switching their outbound marketing efforts that shout at the consumer to inbound marketing strategies which harvest and cultivate demand for your products and services by drawing prospects to you.
The mindset to this shift is COMPLETELY different and it IS the future of marketing.
If your business is not yet reaping the benefits of inbound marketing, this post will lay the groundwork for you on why and how you need to take advantage of this marketing trend. And we’ll go over the drastic differences between the two forms of marketing and why inbound marketing is so valuable for your brand.
But first will start with a brief introduction to inbound marketing.
What is Inbound Marketing?
The inbound marketing strategy brings prospects to your business rather than you going out and actively finding them and fighting for their attention. Simply put an inbound marketing campaign earns each customers’ attention organically.
People today are bombarded with thousands of ads, pieces of information, viral videos and photos, and more every day. They have become quite effective at turning off their brain to outbound marketing tactics like banner ads and commercials. Anything that says “Hey look at me!” or “Buy my product” is easily ignored and a big reason why traditional marketing statistics show such a major decline in effectiveness.
Whether content, social media, or PPC, inbound marketing draws in people who are looking for exactly what you are offering.
Why inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing
Inbound marketing earns the viewers’ attention because they have actually sought it out on their own. Instead of interrupting someone’s day and to snag their attention like outbound marketing does, inbound marketing brings you prospects who are already interested in what you have to offer. In addition, inbound marketing often comes in the form of useful content which means the search user is getting something from your content before you ever hold out your hand for more.
Here in lies the major difference between inbound and outbound marketing. Inbound marketing provides value to prospects. Outbound marketing interrupts and seizes the prospects’ attention.
If you take a moment and think about how the average search user finds products or services they need it’s simple.
Search users have a need, a question, or a problem they need answered.
They are looking for results in the search engines that speak directly to what it is they need help with. So for example if you search for “how to create educational content” the search results should present a list of web pages and/or blog articles that talk about how to create educational content. You have a need, and the search results should answer.
Because of the inherent difference between inbound and outbound marketing, inbound often produces much more qualified leads. Prospects are actively looking for what you have to offer, and therefore, will be much more likely to follow through and make a purchase.
Inbound marketing makes any well-built website easier to find and draws in prospects to reap the benefits of valuable, engaging, and interesting content. Often many inbound marketers appeal to a specific niche or audience as well. So, for example, if you build custom turbine generators, and create content that speaks directly to those who might be interested in turbine generators, it should be a no-brainer that you are likely to receive far more website traffic from those interested in this subject, and the traffic you do receive will be of much higher quality.
Why is Outbound Marketing Dead?
When you’re searching for a product or service how do you usually make your decisions?
Do you conduct research online and read reviews?
Do you search for particular brands or product names, or do you ask a question, state a problem, etc?
How do TV commercials and direct mail influence your buying decisions?
You are just like your customers, and the modern consumer has drastically changed no matter what industry you serve!
Use your own online habits to think more closely about how search users are finding the things they are looking for online. Pay attention to how you search and what you type in. It can really open your eyes to how you are drawn to other companies’ use of inbound marketing.
More often than not, consumers make their buying decisions based on extensive online research and comparison shopping.
Although TV commercials and other forms of outbound marketing do promote brand awareness, are they really a cost effective way for many businesses to market themselves? Unless, you represent a national company with brand recognition, outbound marketing will likely be expensive and a lot of hard work. Not only that, but it is extremely ineffective at producing measurable results.
Since the internet promotes communication, customers have come to expect responsiveness and the ability to interact with a product or company before purchasing it. Outbound marketing is a one way form of communication. The marketer sends out a message to all consumers and hopes to get a response. Customers are sought out actively in print, TV, and other forms of advertising and this can be expensive if any of the data is off.
Mind-Blowing Marketing Statistics
Still not sure if outbound marketing is dead? Check out these outbound marketing statistics.
- 200 million Americans have registered for the FTC’s “Do Not Call” list
- 91% of customers have unsubscribed from a company’s email they originally opted into
- 86% of people skip TV ads
Now check out these statistics about inbound marketing.
- 57% of companies brought in a customer through their blog
- 62% of companies landed a new customer through LinkedIn
- 56% of websites that blog once monthly brought in a customer
- 70% of companies that blog one or twice weekly brought in a customer
- 65% of B2B websites acquired customers through LinkedIn
- 77% of B2C websites brought in customers through Facebook
- Organic leads have a 14.6% close rate compared to 1.7% for outbound leads
- 45% of businesses reported inbound as their primary source of leads
And Inbound Marketing Saves Me Money?
Ultimately, inbound marketing is more affordable than outbound marketing. The first reason lies in the definition of inbound marketing. Instead of spending countless dollars sending messages to where your customers are (or you hope they are), you simply draw them in to you. This process will teach you more about your audience and how you can service them even better than you do right now.
Because inbound marketing only attracts interested people, every dollar you spend on inbound marketing is targeting the right customer. With outbound marketing you might be unknowingly targeting the wrong customer wasting precious marketing dollars.
Because you’re only targeting people that are interested in your offer, it’s not a big surprise that inbound marketing brings in 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing efforts. And when you look at the actual cost of inbound marketing, lead for lead inbound marketing costs on average 62% less than outbound marketing.
How to Incorporate Inbound Marketing into Your Marketing Plan in 3 Steps
As we’ve pointed out throughout this post, inbound marketing is any type of marketing that brings people to you instead of you having to go out to get them. By focusing on getting found by customers, inbound marketers earn the trust of customers as well as their attention.
#1: Start with great content
The best place to start incorporating inbound marketing into your business is with a content strategy. Content is the tool that attracts customers to your site. It is what answers questions, presents solutions, educates, inspires, and engages with your audience. Content marketing is a highly effective way to draw customers to you. Not only does content increase your online presence and improve your site’s SEO, it also provides a piece of your business that customers can share with their connections on social media.
Content marketing includes:
- White papers
#2: Optimize your content for people and search engines
All the content you create must be search engine optimized. When great SEO is in place on your content, people will be able to find it by searching online. And the search engine is the mother of inbound marketing.
When people are looking for information or a product, they most likely will use a search engine to get started and often choose one of the search results they find on the first page. Up-to-date SEO techniques need to be incorporated into every piece of content that you create so that your business can be found.
One of the best ways to improve your sites SEO is through inbound links. And inbound links come once you produce great content for your site. People will naturally want to link to the information because it is high quality and strong.
#3: Integrate Social Media Shares & Follows
The third component of a successful inbound marketing campaign is social media. Social media exponentially amplifies your content’s impact. When great content is shared socially online is has the potential to increase its presence virally.
Content can be spread through social sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn or news aggregators like Reddit or Digg as well a bookmark sites like Delicious.com and more. The further reach each piece of content has the more people will see it and the more people who will be exposed to your company.
As the content begins to gain authority across the web, other sites will link to it. When other sites link to your business page, your SEO ranking goes up making your business appear higher up on search engine results.
Besides boosting your search engine rankings, high quality content can create buzz around your company and increase the amount of referrals you receive from users online.
Make sure you integrate social share links into every piece of content your create. And when appropriate share it across your own social networks and promote to others.
Inbound Marketing Improves Customer Relations
Since at its core, inbound marketing is a customer focused strategy, customer relations are extremely important. Since the focus on customers is evident from the beginning (i.e. delivering content that serves a purpose), an improved customer-business relationship is forged from the start. This builds trust and rapport more easily than outbound marketing ever could hope for.
By offering valued content to your prospects, you hope to offer them something they need and simultaneously learn more about what they are looking for. For example, if you write a blog post about a better way to boil an egg or have a Twitter conversation with a customer, you’re learning more about what they are looking for by analyzing their responses and interactions.
Not only will your focus on content valued by customers improve relations with them, it also solidifies your brand and increases the chance for reoccurring sales. With consistent high quality content, customers will become loyal to your brand and offer. And they will advocate for you and refer you to their friends and colleagues.
Inbound Marketing is extremely measurable
One of the biggest complaints or problems we see with most businesses who try to marketing their services is the lack of ROI (return on investment). Not only lack of ROI but they truly have no idea how successful their marketing is. Asking many businesses how much they spent on marketing, how many customers they acquired in the last year, etc is a mystery to some. How can this be? Perhaps it’s the way in which they are marketing which is all wrong. Inbound creates a measurable structure to track and gauge where your leads come from, and how successful your marketing efforts were in each campaign you put together.
Inbound Marketing is the Future and It’s Here to Stay
As we hope you have seen by now, inbound marketing is a rising trend but certainly one that takes careful planning and consideration. It’s natural to have a lot of questions. We can help walk you through some of the finer points and help you learn about inbound marketing. We even offer a free one hour screenshare and phone call assessment with our inbound specialists that help point out key areas of your business and online marketing that could be greatly improved through the inbound marketing strategy. As part of our assessment we also look at some of your competitors and provide real insight to help you get on the right track with your business.