Unless you're as paranoid about serving your customer as you are your bottom line, chances are you're not doing Inbound Marketing. The main difference between inbound and outbound marketing, is the focus is on your customer as opposed to your company. So what do I mean by this?
Think of your traditional forms of marketing?
- Cold Calling
- Direct Mail
- Lead Lists
- Yellow Pages
All of these methods are not only out of date but can get very expensive. Not only that, but they are intrusive. How irritated do you get when you and the family just sat down to dinner and your phone rings. Worried that it might be an emergency, you pick it up, only to hear a muffled faint accent on the other end saying that you’ve already been pre-qualified for a loan. How eager are you to postpone your delicious meal and start what could be a long, exhausting discussion about a home mortgage refinance? Probably little to none. Am I right? Not only that, but you’re probably frustrated with the company who had this person interrupt your family time, making you less likely to do business with them in the future when you actually do need a refinance.
Also, we’ve all stood there in our kitchens milling over the numerous coupons, flyers, and “junk mail” that we get every day. For a consumer, it seems like a waste of resources and the majority of that junk mail goes straight into the recycle. For the business owner, it can get pretty pricey paying to design, print and mail all of those leaflets. Then sit and hope that someone in that mass mailing might have a need for your particular service at that particular point in time. Almost like fishing, however, I think finishing has better odds.
The point is that older forms of marketing fall short of creating any meaningful connection with your customers. Not only that, but they can actually turn off potential customers because of the intrusive, disruptive nature these marketing avenues take.
But inbound marketing is different. Essentially, inbound marketing is trying to solve your customer’s problems, even if it doesn’t end up with a sale for you. Why in the world would you want to do that? The short answer, is that even if it didn’t end up with a sale this time, because you solved a problem for that customer, chances are they’ll come back to your site or company again in the future. That’s already a better chance at converting a customer than a cold call to a stranger who doesn’t know who you are. By putting useful content out into the web such as blog posts, social posts, emails, and educational materials like ebooks and white papers, you are positioning yourself as an industry leader and genuinely helping your client base. This gains trust with your target market and over time, increases not only your market share, but your overall reach as well.
So what makes Inbound Marketing so great? Here are the 6 best reasons you should switch to inbound marketing:
1) Greater Conversion: Let’s look at an appliance warehouse who is trying to sell refrigerators. In one instance, the business sends a direct mail flyer to 1,000 homes advertising their newest LG fridge. According to the Online Marketing Institute: “in 2012 the average response rate for direct mail was 4.4% for both business-to-business and business to consumer mailings—considerably higher than industry expectations, and surging past electronic mail’s response rate of just 0.12%.” Based on those calculations, your 1,000 flyer investment will bring back about .04 leads. That’s not very exciting now is it? Especially depending on how fancy those flyers were to print. Even at $.50 each, that’s still $500 minus postage for not even one lead. Now compare that to inbound marketing. When I am searching for a new refrigerator and I land on a site, I’m already more engaged than the person receiving the junk mail because I am actively searching for that product. According to HubSpot: “Content marketing generates 3 times as many leads as traditional outbound marketing, but costs 62% less.” Think about it how much does it cost to publish a blog post about LG refrigerators? So not only is it cheaper, but inbound marketing leads to greater conversion, making the most out of the leads you have.
2) Engagement: Engagement is a very powerful thing. When a consumer feels engaged with a company, they can become a strong promoter for that business. On the contrary, if users find it hard to engage with a company, they’re more likely to continue looking for a company that is a better fit that they can “connect” with more. Eoin Keenan of SiliconCloud explains it perfectly: “People tend to remember brands that are willing and able to engage them on an intellectual level. Across all online platforms, particularly on social media, users feel like they deserve to own as much of the conversation as brands do. The engagement created by successful inbound marketing provides that feeling of ownership.” With inbound marketing you’re interacting with customers where they are. Whether it be via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or even your blog, the back and forth customers receive from businesses is a fraction of what it could be. If you had a legitimate concern with a product, and posted a tweet about it, how surprised would you be if the company tweeted directly back to you offering you a free exchange or discount on your next purchase? We don’t expect this real human type of interaction from a large corporation. So when we do experience it, it humanizes the company instead of them being the mysterious man behind the curtain. You feel like you have a connection with them which ultimately in turn, leads to greater brand loyalty.
3) Position Yourself as an Industry Leader: As mentioned earlier, often with inbound marketing, the interactions with your customers don’t always lead to a sale. But that’s ok. The benefit from gaining a lifelong customer is much greater than that one immediate sale. Blogging is at the core of any inbound marketing strategy. According to HubSpot: “79% of companies that have a blog reported a positive ROI for inbound marketing in 2013.” Using our appliance example from earlier, if I write a blog article detailing the differences between the new LG and the new Whirlpool refrigerators, that is a valuable piece of information. By offering it up to our client base, we are genuinely trying to help the customer solve a problem of trying to compare new refrigerators. As a customer, if I’ve been looking around and narrowed down my search to either an LG or Whirlpool refrigerator and I do a Google search for “LG vs Whirlpool refrigerators”, chances are I am going to land on that blog. Even if I didn’t make a purchase that time, the information I received is valuable and I just found a “hub” of information. Chances are, I’ve gained some trust from the company because they helped me solve a problem. Seeing how they provided me that information, I’ll regard them as informative, helpful, and feel like they really know what they’re talking about. Thus regarding them as an industry leader.
4) Targeting: This is probably the most powerful aspect of inbound marketing. As opposed to direct mail campaign where it’s more of a “spray and prey” mentality, inbound marketing can be very methodical. Based on real data (not assumptions) we can determine exactly the type of person we are going after, what their motivators are, where they hang out, and what they respond to. Using social media advertising or Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns, we can directly target people based on a number of criteria. If you sell purses, chances are men won’t be a major part of your target demographic. So why waste advertising time and dollars on campaigns that could potentially target men? As Brenna Keough with ZAG Interactive put it: “Digital marketing tactics such as social media advertising and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising allow marketers to target individuals based on very specific criteria including geographic location, age, gender, interests and so much more.” By targeting your individual customers, you are making the most of your time and money. Your efforts will have a greater ROI because you are avoiding all the noise that can cloud some marketing channels. You’re getting the right product or service, in front of the right people, at the right time, at the right place.
5) Inbound Marketing Saves You Money: When it all comes down to it, how we run our business is determined by what our perceived effect on our bottom line is. We’re much more likely to take the plunge if we feel that it will pay off in the end. But it’s not as simple as just throwing money at it to fix the problem. There is a fundamental shift in the marketplace. Thanks to the internet, most people thoroughly research their purchases well before they’re ready to buy. Trying to target people with a high pressure sale when they’re not ready will only lead to wasted resources and missed opportunities. Thankfully, digital marketing is more immediate and less costly than some of the other forms of marketing. As Jean Moncrieff with Emerge Studio put it: “Do you engage a PR agency, use television or radio advertising, or perhaps use print advertising? Well, if an increasing amount of users are going online to research products and services before they buy, then surely Google is your business card. So where should you be putting your money?” Long gone are the days of taking out full page ads in the Yellow Pages. Investing in an employee to manage your social campaigns or your PPC campaigns will have a much greater impact than mailing out 2,000 flyers as opposed to 1,000. You can publish an ungodly amount of blog posts with that money.
So the fact of the matter is that the marketplace is changing. Inbound marketing is a direct result of that change. With people researching and making up their minds before even talking to a sales associate, it is important to engage them much earlier in the buyer process. Inform them, educate them, and help them solve their problems. Using digital marketing through blogging, social media, PPC, etc, you can directly target your ideal customer, give them the necessary tools to help them solve their problems and in turn, gain a loyal promoter for your business who will be committed to you as long as you are committed to them.