You may have heard the term “inbound marketing” lately and asked yourself, “What is inbound marketing?” There are so many business buzz words that pop up each week that they start to become meaningless, but inbound marketing is different—it represents a total sea change in the way marketers and customers interact with each other. It has also sometimes been called “interactive marketing” because inbound marketing is all about building and enhancing relationships between businesses and their customers.
The Difference between Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing
The core difference between outbound and inbound marketing is that outbound marketing has traditionally focused on shouting out and broadcasting marketing messages to a passive customer—TV, magazine, newspaper and radio ads, fliers, telemarketing, banner ads on websites, billboards, direct mail—all of that is considered outbound marketing. Outbound marketing is one-way marketing, and it has been the mode of communication between businesses and customers for ages.
But the Internet, and particularly the mobile Internet, has changed the way customers react to this type of marketing. They are more in control of the marketing messages they get and they reflexively filter out those messages they find irrelevant or intrusive. These stats show the rapid decline of outbound marketing methods:
- 84% of adults age 25-34 (a prime target for many marketers) have clicked away from a website specifically because of a banner or pop-up ad that intruded upon what they were originally doing.
- Fully 2/3 of all Americans have registered with the FTC’s “Do-Not-Call” list to avoid being harassed by telemarketers.
- 86% of TV viewers totally skip over advertisements.
- 91% of people have unsubscribed from an email subscription to a company, even though they previously opted into it.
- 44% of direct mail campaigns end up in the recycling without ever being opened.
That’s a lot of marketing money going absolutely nowhere.
Inbound Marketing, On the Other Hand…
Inbound marketing focuses on attracting customers based on your product or services’ relevance to the customer’s actual needs and wants. Instead of being intrusive and one-way, it is inviting, helpful and relationship-based. Inbound marketing thrives on communication between the customer and marketer. Marketing needs to be this way because today, customers decide, based on their own wishes and needs, what marketing messages they will pay attention to—or even seek out on their own! But how do you do inbound marketing? Inbound marketing involves 5 basic steps:
- Attract total strangers to your message
- Convert new visitors into leads
- Get visitors to buy something and become customers
- Keep those customers coming back for more
- Analyze your performance to further enhance your efforts
So how do you get started with inbound marketing?
First, create interesting, helpful and interactive content for your website. Show potential customers how you have already solved the same problems for established customers. Chat with them. Provide helpful how-to videos, white papers, blogs, infographics, podcasts, and social media interaction. This all counts as inbound marketing tactics.
Also first (because it is intrinsically involved with the creation process for the aforementioned helpful content), have a thorough SEO marketing strategy. SEO (search engine optimization) helps your useful content rise up to the top of the list when a potential customer is searching for a product or service like yours. This is how 90% of people find new products and services today—by searching for help on Google, Bing, etc. Your content may be awesome, but if it’s invisible to search engines, it’s invisible to potential customers.
Next, because more people are running product and service searches from their mobile devices, you must make sure your helpful content is mobile optimized. That means having a responsive, inviting mobile web design, heavy involvement with social media and also optimizations for localizing your content to serve customers in your geographical area: special check-in discounts and coupons, localized content, etc. That way, happy customers can gush about your product right there in your store and tell all of their friends about you immediately through social media marketing.
Lastly, good, old-fashioned customer service. Building relationships with your customers based on trust, promptly resolving concerns and problems, providing quality products and services and genuinely helping them out and anticipating their needs—that’s how you keep customers happy and get them to attract new customers for you via the all-powerful word-of-mouth!
For more information about inbound marketing services and how they can help you build great relationships with your customers and bring in new leads and sales, contact Affordable Web Design today!