Inbound Marketing is a term that has been coined by Hubspot’s co-founder, Brian Halligan, and it refers to a new Marketing Strategy, one that is focused on having the prospective clients actually make the “inbound” call to a company. How does it work? Well before getting into that we need to understand where this strategy evolved from and what the “old” Strategy of Outbound Marketing was all about.
Outbound Marketing is a method that focused on interrupting and disrupting a prospective client. The 3 most common methods were:
Cold Calling: This method got so bad that the government had to step in and actually regulate the practice by instilling the “Do Not Call” list. Although that list did a lot to curtail these pesky telemarketers, the practice has not died and is still very much in use. Especially within the B2B arena.
Direct Mail: This method resulted in most of the consumers receiving an overwhelming majority of “junk mail” that the consumers’ relevant mail was hidden within the piles of offers and promotions that were being sent to their homes. With an average 2% read rate, Direct Mail just became a numbers game, and it used the law of large numbers.
Trade Shows: Of the 3 method this one is the most innocuous one since nobody forced any consumer to attend a trade show; however, getting the attention of prospective clients is extremely difficult and expensive. Difficult because in a very small area there are dozens if not hundreds of exhibitors vying for their attention, thus competition is exceedingly high. Expensive because trade show booths have gotten overly priced and a Marketing team has to be transported and lodged during those days. The return on such events can be questionable.
So what is Inbound Marketing? It is a strategy that uses a number of methods that will attract prospective customers by earning their attention. This “inbound” attention is attracted by using Blogging, Social Media, and SEO:
Blogging: People are hungry for content. They want it and they want it bad. They will get it! One way or the other. There is no website that can be all things to all people; therefore, this opens up the opportunity for blogs that can focus on niche subjects. By regularly and frequently publishing relevant content, a blog can generate a vast amount of traffic for a website.
Social Media: We are human and have emotions. These emotions drive us to have relationships. Technology has allowed us to transcend these relationship from the real world to the digital one. In comes the multitude of Social Networks such as Facebook, Tweeter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc… By leveraging this vastness of digital relationships, a business can amass quite a following. If this following likes something they will share it with their network. These pre-established relationships, this woven web of digital connections are primed for spreading the word on anything that will connect with their personal preferences. Thus setting that network and striking a chord can lead to a large following and significant online traffic.
SEO: It is a Google’s world and we are just fortunate to live in it. If someone is looking for something there is about 2/3 of a chance that they will use Google to search it. The rest of the people would use either Bing or Yahoo. It is critical to have a website optimized to be found by any of these search engines. Although they keep their algorithms a very closed secret, a number of independent research have demonstrated that ranking is based about 1/3 of “On-Page” factors, and the remaining 2/3 on “Off-Page” factors. “On-Page” means keywords, meta tags, url, outbound links, etc… Mostly things that one can control with a relative level of ease. “Off-Page” means mostly the incoming links to a website. How many are connecting to the website and how authoritative, and relevant are they? This is more challenging to affect but it is definitely not out of one’s control.
Combining these just above mentioned 3 tactics will yield the Inbound Marketing Strategy. One that is proving to have a significantly higher ROI as it significantly reduces the cost of client acquisition. Companies that blog tend to receive on average 55% more online traffic than companies that don’t, and companies that blog tend to receive on average 75% more leads than companies that do not. With stats like that it is difficult to argue against the effectiveness of well crafted Inbound Marketing Strategy.