Inbound marketing is increasing in popularity, as it becomes clear that more traditional, outbound marketing is losing its power and influence over consumers. So what do these terms mean, and what does it mean for your business?
The forms of advertising that have dominated over recent decades, such as television advertisements, billboards, radio advertising, direct mail, cold calling, and banner adverts on websites are all examples of outbound marketing. Their goal is to interrupt the consumer during the course of their day, and attract their attention to the advertiser’s product or service. Outbound adverts tend to be blasted out to millions and, while it is not true to say that they are all broadcast indiscriminately, it is certainly very difficult to truly target these campaigns in a meaningful way.
What’s more consumers have, over time, learned to ignore this kind of interruption marketing. The ability to fast forward through television ads, and install software which blocks all display ads in an internet browser, have played a part in this, but it goes a lot further than that. For instance, 44% of direct mail is never opened, and 84% of 25 to 34 year olds have clicked out of a website because of an “irrelevant or intrusive ad”.
It has become more and more clear that marketing needed a new tactic, and the result has been the development of inbound marketing, also known as permission marketing.
Hubspot define inbound marketing as “marketing that’s useful”. When a company invests time and energy into creating a blog, a podcast or an eBook, and when it promotes these things through the use of SEO and social media, it starts to provide the information that its customers are looking for.
Inbound marketing is a dialogue with your customers. No longer can you broadcast your brand and expect customers to flock towards you – instead, they expect you to enter into conversation on social media, respond to blog comments and answer their questions on your website. Through the use of inbound marketing, customers come to you when they are looking for what you offer, providing you with pre-qualified leads which you have earned, not bought.
The better the content on your website, the YouTube videos you post, or the free webinars you host, the more easily you will be discovered by consumers who are searching for the information you are providing. And they are frequently doing this to help to inform them about making a purchase. If you are well prepared, then by the time they come to you, you will have provided such good information that they will now see you as a trustworthy company with considerable expertise in your area or niche. This, then, enhances your authority and your credibility.
Setting up your business for inbound marketing success can take a lot of work to start with, however it is a longer term investment than a TV ad or a direct mail campaign. Permission marketing actually costs 62% less per lead than more traditional, outbound marketing. It is also far less likely to be ignored, or blocked, and when great content is combined with the SEO, PPC or social media marketing needed to promote it while it gains traction, it will provide value for the business and its customers alike.