The internet has changed the game. The development of new digital mediums for content delivery has changed the ways a business can distribute its material to an audience. The way those viewers consume media and their expectations for how and when companies will market to them have also been altered. Traditional marketing, often referred to as outbound marketing, are the time-tested strategies marketers live by, but innovative new inbound marketing techniques are a promising new option with a lot of potential.
Outbound marketing is considered efforts to go out and get customers. These traditional methods were developed during an era of more passive media distribution and consumption. Commercials on the radio and television, roadside billboards and ad space within magazines are prime examples. It also includes techniques for communicating directly to your audience, like cold calls and direct emails. Outbound marketing can be digital too, in the cases of things like banner ads and Google AdWords. The goal for each outbound strategy is the same: find new customers, hook them and convert into a new sale.
We live in a new age of media consumption where consumers have the capability to pick and choose what media they consume more deliberately. Many viewers no longer consume television by watching the popular show on primetime broadcast channels—they decide a specific series to watch via video on-demand internet services like Netflix and Hulu. Individuals can now also surf their favorite news sites or their personally-curated Twitter timeline to get the latest news info, instead of relying solely on newspapers and magazines. Consumers are no longer at the mercy of program directors and news editors when it comes to what content they view because of how easy it is to find the content they prefer.
So, then, what exactly is inbound marketing? It is the response to this shift in consumer behavior. Rather than trying to push your product or service onto clients, inbound marketing seeks to pull in leads by providing content that your audience is drawn to. The trick to inbound marketing is establishing yourself as the solution to a problem that they will have before they know they have it. The goal for companies now is often to become what customers are looking for, rather than trying to look for customers. This inversion is astoundingly effective.
Inbound marketing is driven by referrals, search engines and social media. It is focused on earning the attention of your audience rather than demanding it. Outbound marketing is still effective for spreading awareness and increasing exposure, but in the digital age the ability to be found is as essential as being known in the first place. There are two major ways of achieving this: developing your reputation as a thought leader within your industry or niche, and maintaining engagement and developing the relationships you acquire.
Entertainment and education are the primary tools for developing your reputation. If you can consistently provide content that your followers want to see or need to know then you will see your website’s traffic increase. Once you develop your follower base, the two-way engagement potential offered by social media (as opposed to one-way engagement like mailing lists) helps foster those relationships and build loyalty within your audience. Loyal followers will result in higher conversion rates when you do market towards them.
Why Inbound Marketing is Good for Your Business
Inbound marketing has other practical benefits beyond the attractiveness of its core principles, though. The most direct advantage is cost. Both inbound and outbound marketing materials cost time to develop, but the implementation cost of inbound digital marketing is often lower than that of traditional outbound marketing. A social media account is free, for instance, and hosting a website is a relatively cheap payment. Both are accessible even for casual, non-business individuals.
Companies that used inbound marketing also more frequently reported satisfaction with their own marketing campaigns, responding positively to questions like “do you feel your marketing strategy is effective?” and “does your company’s marketing strategy align with its sales approach?”. 81% of marketers who used inbound practices felt their marketing strategies were effective—for companies with no inbound efforts at all, only 18% responded positively. Having a marketing technique that aligns with the your company’s brand and core philosophies makes implementation feel more natural and convincing, which leads to greater effectiveness.
Inbound marketing also has a longer shelf-life than outbound materials. A billboard in a prime location will generate tons of exposure, but has an exact expiration date. A backlog of great blog articles can generate traffic for years online. Inbound marketing materials can almost be considered assets rather than expenses, in many cases. The return-on-investment of inbound marketing is remarkable.
Long-term Benefits of Inbound Marketing
Analytics derived from non-digital traditional marketing are also only a shadow of the precise statistics available from digital media. Conversion rates from billboards and similar media buys are often approximations, but online analytic tools allow marketers to determine the precise link that brought your audience to your content, basic demographic information, rough geographic location, when they found it, how long they stayed and more.
Access to that data offers two major benefits: an inbound marketing agency can adjust future marketing techniques to more accurately target new leads based on incoming demographics, and once companies know who their current audience is they can continue to develop those relationships into more powerful connections. Analytics allow marketers to calibrate every step of their marketing plan from generating leads all the way to creating the most loyal followers, maximizing growth potential along the entire chain.
The relationships developed through inbound marketing can become more valuable than those from direct advertising as well. A well placed banner ad will generate a sale, but creating a company culture than clients can identify with can produce customers for life.
Implementing Inbound Marketing
The most challenging aspect of inbound marketing is the level of maintenance required. When producing advertising, messaging and campaigns, the time required is often front-loaded. Creating ads also requires insertion in the best location possible to reap the benefits. Developing a brand personality, a social media presence and then maintaining both of those requires constant attention. Digital marketing agencies can help with every step of this process, including upkeep, in many cases.
Full-service marketing agencies can also develop parallel outbound campaigns to round out marketing strategies—traditional marketing might by losing popularity in a few small cases, but it is by no means dying. A robust inbound-outbound marketing strategy can offer value and consistency unmatched by almost any in- or outbound effort alone. An advertising agency knows the techniques that allow inbound and outbound marketing aspects to enhance each other, rather than compete.
Work with the best marketers—inbound or outbound—in the business. Appleton Creative is an award-winning, full-service online marketing agency located in Orlando, Florida. Appleton works with local, national and international clients to deliver custom content, persuasive online ads and expertly crafted campaigns. By implementing valuable and shareable digital content strategies, Appleton can create the perfect social and online marketing experience for your brand and audience. Your Internet advertising goals are worth a conversation: contact us at 407-246-0092 or firstname.lastname@example.org.