Every business is familiar with outbound marketing – pushing their message out to customers through traditional advertising channels, sales methods and email.
Inbound marketing is less familiar. It’s also called content or pull marketing and all businesses need to get on-board with it because the way customers engage with companies has changed over the past few years. The explosion of technology has enabled consumers to take charge of the buying process – they initiate engagement and do their own research. It’s been a tsunami of change.
So what is inbound marketing? It’s a pull rather a push and it’s about convincing potential customers they found you and that they have a relationship with you, rather than being accosted by your message at every turn. It involves creating content that your customers are looking for – web content, blog posts, social media, infographics, email newsletters, how to videos and helpful information that people want to read. Search engine optimisation, organic and paid searches help customers find your content. If it’s engaging enough, they interact with it, reading and sharing, and come away with a positive impression of your brand that will influence later purchasing decisions. Inbound marketing is very hands-off: there’s never a noticeable sales pitch. But it helps you build brand authenticity and creates trust.
It works best through effective use of social media, mobile apps, societal initiatives and providing a modern easily-found web site with customer-focused content. The challenge is to provide credible content that’s interesting and helps your potential customers.
Here’s 5 reasons to include inbound as part of your overall marketing strategy.
- Modern customers trust self-service marketing. They are doing their own research and don’t want to engage with pushy salespeople or messages.
- 93 percent of online experiences start with a search engine. If you have a consistent and valuable presence on your site and your social media channels, you have a better chance of a higher ranking on search engine result pages.
- Pull marketing is less expensive than push marketing. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’s free – pull marketing does cost money – for content creation, website, and social media management. But these costs tend to be lower than outbound methods and can be spread evenly over time. Inbound marketing also encourages word-of-mouth referrals which are the cheapest by far.
- Mobile devices and apps enhance social interactivity. Smartphone penetration is almost total and mobile activity averages are approaching 5 hours a day across major demographics.
- Inbound marketing data is more easily measured for ROI.Inbound comes with a multitude of data sources, including website analytics, blog reads, social media insights, even actual orders linked to content. More and more automated tools and apps are being created to assist in this process and provide transparent return on investment data for marketers.
Inbound doesn’t replace outbound when it comes to marketing – there will always be a need for brand advertising and traditional sales methods. However inbound is a necessary part of your overall marketing strategy and if you’re not already engaged in it, you need to start now, or risk losing opportunities to your customers who are.