What is inbound marketing? Well, inbound marketing is a fundamental shift in how businesses and marketers promote their products and services to prospective buyers on the Internet today. In contrast to the traditional outbound marketing methods that try to “buy, beg or bug their way-into the customer’s wallet”, inbound marketing focuses on value creation and to “earn your way-into the customer’s heart first”.
Generally speaking, the old outbound marketing typically involves trying to sell your product or service to mostly non-responsive audience, using expensive marketing methods such as cold-calling, buying radio and TV ads, printing and posting direct mail and sales flyers, attending trade shows, holding seminars, buying email lists, spamming and traditional advertising. The outbound marketers usually aim to spread their message far and wide, simply hoping that something will stick and they will get the sales.
In a nutshell, the outbound marketing strategies are usually considered interruptive as they involve interrupting people’s lives to grab their attention to your product or service and hoping for a sale. However, over a period of time these interruptive strategies are becoming highly ineffective due to the following two primary reasons:
- The average human being today is inundated with interruption-based marketing messages all day long. Companies are busy either advertising, cold calling, emailing or spamming people to grab their attention. However, people have too little time these days to pay attention to all these interruptive messages and way too many options to choose from. Also, people are simply tired of being sold to all the time. As an antidote, people are getting better and better at blocking out these interruption based marketing messages either by using caller ids on their cell phones or by installing spam protection filters on their PCs, implementing anti-spam laws and more.
- There is a fundamental shift in how people learn, research and shop in today’s world. Most people these days prefer going to Google or blogosphere or Social Media websites for finding solutions to their problem areas, carrying out research on products and services, reading reviews, learning and developing themselves and carrying out shopping. Not many people have the time and inclination these days to travel half way across the globe to attend a trade-show or listen to a seminar in the adjacent town. It is much easier, faster and economical to go online and find what you want.
Considering these factors, many businesses and marketers these days prefer to adopt the inbound marketing approach. Inbound marketing essentially revolves around creating valuable content for your target audience and publishing it to your website. This content can be in the form of blogs, videos, podcasts, webinars, eBooks, eNewsletters, whitepapers, SEO, Social media marketing, and other forms of content creation. The focus here is to create content that is in alignment with your customer’s interests, needs and pain points. When your target audience finds this content on the Internet, they naturally get attracted to your website, thereby bringing you more and more website traffic over a period of time. This website traffic is then converted into leads on your website, leads are later closed as customers, and customers are again well-taken-care-of-and-delighted to become your repeat, happy customers and promoters of your brand. In a nutshell, this is what is inbound marketing and it is changing the way companies connect and engage with their prospects and customers.
Also, outbound marketing strategies usually have no insight into whether the people you are marketing your product to, are even interested in your product or not. In contrast to this, as part of inbound marketing, people who become leads on your website are usually the people who come to your website reading a certain blog article or watching a certain video that is related to what product or service you offer. Hence, there is a very high probability that you will be able to convert such leads into customers later in your sales and marketing cycle.
Finally, below are a few slides demonstrating some of the key inbound marketing statistics from a recent survey conducted with over 3300 marketers across the globe. This survey was conducted by our partner company, HubSpot in 2013. These slides are pretty insightful.