Over the last decade, marketing sure has changed — a lot. The simple truth is, what used to work really well isn’t working so well anymore.
Traditionally, marketing has been done through TV and radio ads, newspapers and magazines, cold calling, direct mail and press releases. Traditional marketing is basically “push and pray” says Scott Stratten, President of UnMarketing. Push out messages and pray that somebody pays attention and takes action.
But nowadays, customers are inundated with advertising messages and empowered to block them. Consider:
- TiVo allows your customers to skip your commercials
- People often listen to iPods in their cars now instead of radio
- Many newspapers and magazines have gone out of business – people get their news online now
- Caller ID enables people to ignore your cold calls (assuming they haven’t already signed up for the Do Not Call list)
- Direct mail pieces have low conversion rates and often get put into a recycling bin unopened. (I bet you do that.)
- Spam filters have gotten better and better at blocking unwanted emails.
Inbound marketing presents a different, more effective approach. Here’s why (and how).
Think for a moment about how you actually buy products or services these days. First you might ask a friend or a colleague for a referral. If your friends can’t recommend anybody, you might ask your online network on Facebook or Twitter. Next, you might do a Google search. Better, maybe you already follow a blogger who is an expert in what you’re looking for.
This is the province of inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is about setting yourself up like a magnet, attracting the interest of those trying to find products or services in your industry. It’s about pull, not push. The easier you make it for them to find you, especially at the exact point when they want to find somebody like you, and the more educational, engaging or entertaining you make your content, the more successful you will be.
Inbound marketing is about:
- Conversation and engagement, not attention through interruption
- Getting found by people already seeking products, services or information in your industry
- Search engines, social networks, blogs, opt-in email
- Your website as a “content hub”
What it’s not about is trying to get people’s attention by interrupting (and annoying) them, like with traditional outbound marketing. People do business with others that they know, like and trust, and we all know it’s so much easier to sell to a currently satisfied customer than to a random person who has been cold called. Like most outbound marketing, cold calling earns no trust.
Here are six key reasons to shift at least some of your outbound marketing budget to an inbound marketing program.
1. Inbound marketing increases your perceived value
Inbound marketing helps to position you and your company as an industry expert. Industry experts can never be commodities, everyone wants to work with them, and they can price themselves accordingly.
2. Inbound marketing is trackable
It’s hard to improve what you cannot track. With outbound advertising it’s difficult to know the impact. That last radio spot you did – how successful was it in driving your desired action?
That’s not so for inbound marketing. With inbound, it’s fairly easy to know exactly where every lead originated, allowing you to understand exactly where to best focus your efforts.
3. Inbound marketing is targeted
By positioning yourself to be present and appealing during the exact moment someone in your market actually WANTS your information and expertise, none of your effort is wasted. All the “bricks in the wall” add up to something.
As Henry Ford has been widely quoted (though some attribute this quote to others), “Fifty percent of my advertising is wasted. I just don’t know which fifty percent.” With inbound marketing it’s much easier to know where your dollars should best be spent.
4. Inbound marketing is *much* less obnoxious
[pullquote]Outbound marketing is about interrupting you, or tricking you into giving your attention to something. Most of the time it’s unwanted.[/pullquote]
Outbound marketing is about interrupting you, or tricking you into giving your attention to something. Most of the time it’s unwanted. You don’t want your TV show interrupted by commercials. You don’t want your dinner interrupted by that telemarketer. You don’t want your mailbox filled up by junk mail that you’re just going to throw away.
With inbound marketing it’s exactly the opposite. Your leads are asking for your information. They actually want what you’re providing.
5. Inbound marketing is an annuity
When you pay for a print ad, for example, you get whatever brand impressions you get while the issue is out there. MAYBE some people take an action (though the conversation rates for those approaches are usually very low.) But then that’s it. The magazine is gone. Your ad is dead.
With inbound, every piece of content developed, every blog post, every educational video, every white paper, every e-book — they all become indexed and findable in Google. Assets you create can go viral months or years after they’ve been published. The more content you create, the more “stock” you own.
6. Inbound marketing is less expensive
Our software partner HubSpot conducted an extensive study of companies that primarily focus on outbound vs inbound marketing. One of the most interesting things they found was that companies who focus on inbound marketing had, on average, a 60% lower cost per lead. Other findings also showed that the leads they generated were much warmer – they were more ready to buy.
If all that isn’t enough to convince you, consider that you just learned more about our company, Abstract Edge, by reading this post. Perhaps you found it through our email newsletter, or you subscribed to our RSS feed. Perhaps you saw a link on Twitter or Facebook. Or maybe it came up in a Google search. Think for a moment about how this post has benefited Abstract Edge considering the six reasons outlined above. If you disagree, let us know in the comments below.
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