Over the years there have been many different forms of marketing, and huge advancements in the technology and tools available to marketers. The most traditional methods of marketing have always been considered to be television commercials, billboards, newspaper and radio advertisements. The digital era has enabled marketers to utilise methods that are often more cost effective, measurable and provide a strong return on investment. Whilst Inbound marketing is not actually a new method (in fact, according to some it has been leveraged by certain companies for several years via print media), but has become much more efficient and popular in recent times due to accessibility and digital evolution. In this article, we are going to look at what inbound marketing is, how it works and what it’s benefits are.
What is Inbound Marketing?
The art of inbound marketing has been defined, redefined and reinvented countless times. Some refer to it as an Inbound Funnel, others a Sales Funnel, but the general consensus is that prospects are “nurtured” through a series of activities and communications from a business that both educates and empowers the prospect to feel confident committing to a purchase with the source of that information.
Inbound marketing is about creating valuable experiences that have a positive impact on people and your business. How do you do that? You attract prospects and customers to your website and blog through relevant and helpful content. Once they arrive, you engage with them using conversational tools like email and chat and by promising continued value. And finally, you delight them by continuing to act as an empathetic advisor and expert. – HubSpot
The key advantage here is that we have the opportunity to talk about our products, services and experience with our target audience without spending a cent. Social media allows our audience to share our content and allow its reach to expand organically. Having a website with content open to comments allows another opportunity for our audience to be engaged with our business. The more successful the content, the higher the engagement, resulting in a wider audience and ultimately more sales!
Targeting your audience with inbound marketing
Inbound marketing also allows you to focus on a target audience; rather than advertising to everyone and hoping the right person hears your message. Let’s look at television advertising as an example – typically advertisers choose their “spots” based on TARPS and the presence of their target audience relevant to particular programming. So, if you sell sports apparel, then you are likely to want to advertise during a football broadcast, or sports channels specifically. However, the ability to narrow down your audience further becomes very difficult.
Using selective online marketing techniques, you can now define your audience to a very granular level (if you wish to), or broaden it as you choose. For example, on LinkedIn I can choose to target 25-35 year old females who are currently employed in digital marketing, are tertiary educated, and live in Melbourne, Victoria Australia.
Further, inbound marketing allows you to focus on keyword strategies allowing you to develop content specific to those keywords and boost your organic rankings. You can further supplement this by advertising your products and services by keyword. Are you an avid mountain biker? If so, you are likely to have searched online for products, services or even articles related to mountain biking. I can also guarantee that during these online searches & additional browsing after the fact, that you have been exposed – not just on search engines – to advertisements related to mountain biking.
It’s all about relationships
Developing a relationship with your prospect is at the heart of inbound marketing. Often referred to as Lead Nurturing, the process is focused on maintaining and developing relationships with your customers and prospects. So, let’s say you are an online clothing brand and you have a load of regular customers. How do you keep those customers loyal and repeat purchasers? You send emails about upcoming offers or new products. Based on their interaction with your business – ie. product views, article interactions, etc – you can tailor communication to suit their general tastes and personalise their online experience by sharing relevant content through email, social media and other channels. All of this is nurturing relationships in the endeavour of progressing your prospects through the sales funnel to a purchase, but also maintain customers within the “promoter” and “loyalist” grouping for repeat purchase and word-of -mouth referral. It is key to use a combination of platforms; not everyone opens their emails after all, so catch those customers at their daily scroll through Instagram or Facebook.
Who are you targeting?
Advancements in technology have allowed us the ability to not only be easier to reach your customers, but also reach the right audience at the right time and in the right place. Add to that, the vast majority of online activity is measurable so you can clearly determine a return on investment. If you are unsure what your customer demographic looks like, review Google analytics, LinkedIn insights, and gain competitor intelligence from tools such as SEMrush, Moz, Uber Suggest and more. Check out some analysis of your content online and you will quickly see what kind of audience your content is reaching.
Search Engine Optimisation is allows us to market to customers who are already looking for similar products or services. Even better, local search engine optimisation helps customers find something local to them. If you ever search for a gym on your phone, it will usually come up with the closest gyms to you first. So why not use this principal in marketing your own business?
Does it really work that well?
Clever inbound marketing techniques means that your brand remains top of mind when a prospect is coming to a purchase decision, but also allows the opportunity for impulse purchases. Keeping content relevant, engaging and interactive will keep your prospects seeking out your brand, but also think to mention it to a friend/colleague when the topic arises.
Here is a list of some jaw-dropping statistics pulled together by our friends over at HubSpot –
- According to Social Media B2B, B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those that don’t.
- According to Search Engine Journal, inbound leads cost 60% less than outbound leads.
- Content Marketing Institute recently reported that 80% of business decision-makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus in an advertisement.
- The Content Marketing Institute reports that 8 out of 10 people identify themselves as blog readers, and 23% of all time spent online is spent on social media sites.
- ContentPlus published that blogs give websites 434% more indexed pages and 97% more indexed links.
- HubSpot’s research shows that 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
- Search Engine Land shares that up to 80% of people ignore Google-sponsored ads.
- Two educational powerhouses, the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs, teamed up to report that 61% of B2B marketers rate webinars as the most effective content-marketing tactic.
Further reading about Inbound Marketing
There is no denying that an online presence is essential to the modern business success, and without social media marketing, a website, or a search engine presence, there is little hope for growth in this [...]