Marketing has drastically changed over the last decade due to technology and the attitudes of people being targeted in today’s digital realm.
Inbound marketing is all about content designed to keep the attention of the new generation of shoppers online – people who do not have the time or patience to deal with interruptions and intrusive ‘old school’ marketing tactics. The new target audience is always seeking information – researching stuff that’s relevant to them. If you’re throwing outbound marketing at them, you’re actually interrupting them by invading their inboxes, mail boxes and schedules with a bunch of clutter, it’s a turn-off! Inbound marketing is always helpful, not in an ‘in-your-face’ way but in a casual and easy way. Inbound marketing is designed to be relevant and interesting to its audience. It is strategically positioned on the path of the target market’s search and it leads them to your site, naturally, without begging, coaxing, intruding or interrupting them. Well designed content keeps them coming back for more information on your website! Exceptionally designed inbound marketing turns your loyal fans into advocates and ambassadors of your product and brand.
The ‘old school’ way of marketing is outbound marketing. This style of marketing jumps in and interrupts the ebb and flow of a person’s day. Rather than gently falling onto the path and luring them in with important, relevant, helpful info, outbound marketing shoots a message up into the sky like fireworks and hopes to grab the attention of the right audience – the folks who will appreciate the show. Usually there’s no way to even see if it’s working. Sometimes the practice of outbound marketing feels like throwing a bunch of things at the wall and seeing what sticks. You may or may not be seen by the right audience, knock on the right door, or catch someone’s eye. Cold calling, direct mail, and billboard advertising along a major freeway are examples. This type of advertising can come across as an interruption and it can come across as plain rude, condescending and obnoxious. Some folks these days are put off by the very idea of wasting natural resources like trees for paper. Wastefulness is the worst message for your image. Wasting resources is a shame but wasting someone’s time is insulting.
Why Is Inbound Marketing Better Than Outbound Marketing?
- It’s cheaper for companies to produce. It can be implemented with zero budget if you can figure out how to make your own content and make it relevant and interesting / helpful to your audience. There will be no buying ad space in a publication, renting billboards, paying for printed materials. You might need an expert to be involved with the digital production, graphic design, SEO and branding but you can establish a budget easily and really stick to it to achieve your goals. If you know a lot about why your industry or product is helpful to others, and a little about SEO and a medium amount about how to work a social media outlet, you’re well on your way to success with inbound marketing!
- You’ll be SURE that your message is heard. It won’t be a shot in the dark! Nowadays, people just tend to tune out the old outbound marketing like commercials and print ads – they figure out how to dodge them and move on to the relevant information they are seeking – the content that is actually of interest to them. Inbound marketing acknowledges this pattern, and puts your message right in front of people who are looking for your solution, your message, your product. Your content will always be positioned where your target market can find it.
- It is engaging, creating a user experience. Outbound marketing can come across all wrong… so demanding! Stop having your marketing say ‘You need me’ and let your target market say ‘We need you’. Of course you’ll need to engage them and show them your solution to their problem, but a successful and positive user experience will draw them in to an intriguing dialogue, one that is interactive. For example, maybe they’ll be compelled to participate in the discussion, relate in a very personal way, offer information about the problem that helps you further develop and organize your message. Once you engage an audience at that level, chances are they’ll continue the dialogue and their friends will notice, too!
- It’s more effective. Sad to say but our society has changed so much, the old way of marketing – that outbound method- just does not work anymore. Mailed cards get tossed, people don’t pick up the telemarketer’s call, they run from cold calls. According to HubSpot, inbound marketing is proven to deliver 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound marketing tactics.
- It projects the right image for your brand. With outbound marketing, your organization runs the risk of being downright rude, inefficient, inconsiderate. Is that what you’re all about? Of course not! You want to be perceived as helpful, smart, and trustworthy. While outbound marketing can make folks want to slam the door in your face, inbound marketing has a way of soothing your prospects into a comfort zone of interaction and intrigue. Why, because there is credibility in showcasing your product in a polite and helpful format.
The GREAT news about this ‘New Generation’ marketing called Inbound Marketing is this – # 1 on the list above – it COST LESS. It costs a lot less than the traditional old outbound marketing.
The CHALLENGE is this – you’ll have to use your brain and train yourself with a new technique if you want to master the art of managing your content to be a savvy inbound marketer. Up for the challenge? Ready to toss the old cumbersome way of doing things, and enter the digital age?
How to become inbound marketing savvy:
- Conduct an assessment to understand your prospects. Learn and know the habits of your target market. Research the online trends of your prospects and put yourself in the pathway of where they are going online. Think about how they search and what they want to know / need to know. They’re looking for information all of the time. Be there. Be on the feed of an Instagram or turn up in a search for something they need.
- Metrics / performance indicators are the best tools. We did not say inbound marketing was a way to get instant results but we promise you’ll see measurable results and you can work a strategy until you know for sure it is the right one. With inbound marketing you can measure your Return On Investment easily because you’ve entered a digital realm where everything can be followed, measured and analyzed with the available tools. You can use a variety of surveys, analytics mechanisms, performance indicators to do the job or measuring ROI. The thing about inbound marketing strategies is that they need time to flourish. You’ll learn to use key performance indicators (KPIs) that add value to the brand and supplement financial ROI metrics. Your KPIs might include increased online visibility, consumer trust, or repeat business.
- Identify the pathways your audience uses online. Once you have identified your KPIs = key performance indicators = goals for successful online marketing, find the pathways your audience uses to get to your site and interact with you, then you can see how consumers contribute to your goals. Your goals might include keeping them on your site, gaining repeat business, getting referrals from those customers, etc. Search engine rankings, testimonials displayed on Google and industry websites, and social media engagement will improve online visibility. While SEO is important, some consumers start their online search by using social media or another trusted website. Get on those pathways by figuring out which pathways your audience uses. Maybe your fans will share great news about your company back down those same pathways!
- Optimize and Add to Your Pathways. After you are aware of the pathways your prospects use, make it a goal to add some new tactics – stay interesting by changing things up so they’ll come back for more. Small businesses often have success with local SEO, blogging, social media interactions, and email marketing. Write blog articles that support your goals and KPIs. For example, you could highlight a customer story and link to a review site to improve consumer trust metrics.
Google Analytics – a GREAT way to measure your Inbound Marketing success
When you look at Google Analytics you’ll really see why Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing is the best solution. You can actually measure your success in engaging potential and actual customers. You’ll see which products viewers are looking at, know what they are most interested in, and understand where they are not engaging or spending time on your site. It will be up to you to fix the problems but you certainly will not be in the dark.
If your company has little experience with this type of marketing – if you are ready to take a step into the digital world and want to become ‘Inbound Marketing Savvy’ in 2016, give us a call! You’ll be making informed decisions about your marketing strategy and interacting with your digital audience before you know it!
Hubspot, State of Inbound 2014, http://www.stateofinbound.com/
Demand Metric, Content Marketing Infographic, http://www.demandmetric.com/content/content-marketing-infographic