Let’s be honest, not many people pay attention to traditional marketing tactics anymore. When was the last time you gave a commercial your undivided attention? When was the last time you took the time to read and comprehend all the information in an online banner ad? If you’re like most people, you probably don’t remember. THIS is part of the reason why inbound marketing is becoming more prevalent and important to the modern business’s marketing mix and strategy.
Marketo defines inbound marketing as “the process of helping potential customers find your company – often before they are even looking to make a purchase – and then turning that early awareness into brand preference and, ultimately, into leads and revenue.” Basically, inbound marketing is about creating relevant and engaging content through unpaid media channels with the intent of having potential customers and qualified leads find you instead of you having to reach out directly to them through traditional paid media channels that are considered by many today to be annoying.
Infographic, courtesy of HubSpot’s “2013 State of Inbound Marketing”
Blogs, podcasts, online video, infographics, community forums, opt-in email newsletters – all of these are common examples of unpaid media channels that businesses incorporate into their inbound marketing strategy. Not only is inbound marketing cheaper than outbound (even when you consider the labor costs of regularly updating and managing inbound content), it is more engaging for consumers because inbound marketing takes a customer-centeric approach whereas outbound marketing takes a product-centered and sales-centered approach. No one likes to be sold to, but if you can engage a customer with relevant and interesting content, introduce them to your brand and establish trust and brand recognition through inbound marketing tactics, you are more likely to funnel in qualified leads and convert them to sales. Everyone wins.
Here are some stats from the “2013 State of Inbound Marketing” report from HubSpot that quantifies inbound’s increasing popularity and it’s impact on a business’s marketing ROI:
- Nearly 60% of marketers have adopted inbound marketing strategies and more than 80% of those executing inbound marketing have integrated it into broader company goals. People are also investing more in inbound, as budgets for this strategy have grown nearly 50% in each of the past three years.
- 34% of all the leads generated in 2013 come from inbound marketing sources. In fact, inbound delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound leads.
- Inbound marketers double the average site conversion rate of non-inbound marketers, from 6% to 12% total.
- Most [inbound marketing teams] will at least double by the end of the year. Inbound marketers plan to hire an average of 9.3 people this year, which is 125% more growth than teams not executing inbound marketing.
Solid, consistent and engaging inbound marketing efforts can also do wonders for a business’s SEM (check out my previous blog post for more on SEM). Businesses utilizing inbound channels such as social media and blogs give their customers the ability to “share” this content to their social circles. Why is this great for marketers? Inbound sharing pushes a business’s marketing efforts out to a larger sphere of potential customers that the business may not have been able to reach on their own. Best of all – it’s free.
I think that inbound marketing will continue to become a greater and more important aspect of a business’s marketing mix and strategy. Inbound puts the customer first and that is the way it should be. Some may argue that a business’s primary function is to make a profit. This may carry some truth, but since customers provide these profits, I believe (and so does inbound marketing) that a business’s marketing efforts should serve to connect and establish trust and relationships with the brand or business and in turn, this will lead to sales and profits.
Want to see some examples of businesses with great inbound marketing strategies? See how Starbucks, Salesforce.com and a few others do it here: http://mashable.com/2012/09/13/inbound-marketing-strategies/