Inbound marketing is growing in popularity and effectiveness with each passing year. Not only are there more tools at our disposal, but people are taking a much more active interest in the content businesses are producing. So to answer the question “do I need it?”, I would have to say absolutely! Now, I am not saying switch to Inbound marketing exclusively, because realistically using a mix of both inbound and outbound marketing (360 marketing) is your best best.
So what exactly is inbound marketing? Inbound Marketing is marketing that is focused on getting found by customers. In traditional marketing (outbound marketing), companies focus on finding customers. They use techniques that are poorly targeted and that interrupt people. They use cold-calling, print advertising, T.V. advertising, junk mail, spam, and trade shows.
Inbound Marketers flip outbound marketing on its head. Instead of interrupting people with television ads, they create videos that potential customers actually want to see. Instead of buying display ads in print publications, they create their own business blog that people subscribe to and look forward to reading. Instead of cold calling, they create useful content and tools so that prospects contact them looking for more information. Instead of constantly driving their message into a crowd over and over again like a sledgehammer, they attract highly qualified customers to their business like a magnet. Here is an infographic that gives a straight forward comparison between outbound and inbound marketing (by Rick Burnes):
Many Experts recommend marketers “earn their way in” (via publishing helpful information on a blog etc.) in contrast to outbound marketing where they “buy, beg, or bug their way in” (via paid advertisements, issuing press releases, or paying commissioned sales people, respectively). The term is synonymous with the concept of permission marketing According to HubSpot, inbound marketing is especially effective for small businesses that deal with high dollar values, long research cycles and knowledge-based products. In these areas prospects are more likely to get informed and hire someone who demonstrates expertise.
“Customers want to know a brand is trustworthy,” says Kristy Totin, content marketing manager at Teknicks, a leading online marketing agency based in New Jersey. “They gravitate to brands that make their lives easier and have little to no tolerance for bad user experiences.”
An estimated 60% of businesses now employ inbound as part of their overall marketing strategies and that trend is expected to dominate the SEO world throughout 2014. So, if you’re still focused on the “hard sell,” it’s time you ditched your current marketing plan and consider inbound marketing.
Still need more convincing? Well, consider this: It’s estimated that on the whole, inbound marketing brings in 54% more leads than outbound or traditional marketing.
Nevertheless, before you jump on the inbound marketing bandwagon, here are some ideas you should consider to help get you moving in the right direction:
Start with strategic planning
“Analyze your current marketing strategy and develop a well-thought-out road map as the foundation for your inbound marketing strategy,” says Totin. “Know your customers inside and out and assemble a plan to attract prospects with quality content.”
Plan your content strategy
“Think about how you will get new content in front of people and determine the best use of your time whether that’s writing articles, creating E-books or white papers or creating podcasts interviews,” says Emerson.
“Determine who are your customers and how you want your customers to be communicated to,” she said. “It’s about listening to where your best target customers are spending time online. You want to position yourself as a source of quality content.”
Create an editorial calendar
“Think through what benefits your company could offer to meet the needs of your target market,” Totin said.
Set a budget for content creation
Determine which online outlets are best for promoting your products – including free and fee-based online marketing platforms – and make sure these outlets can be used without breaking the bank.
A final piece of advice: Start small.
“You don’t need to take on a huge project straight from the get-go, but you can instead wade in and grow your inbound efforts when the results show it’s worth it,” said Totin.