Understanding the Power of Inbound Marketing
Over the years, marketing has developed a certain reputation, which is not always positive. With dogged telemarketers and other aggressive marketing techniques, many consumers have become wary. However, it would be foolish to think that such flamboyant techniques are the only options when it comes to marketing. The fact is that such marketing tactics are really only half the story.
There are two major classifications when it comes to marketing: inbound and outbound. As these names suggest, the difference between inbound and outbound marketing is the point of initiation. Outbound marketing, for example, is focused on the company actively making contact with customers. On the surface, this may seem like a smarter approach. However, outbound marketing makes the assumption that customers are interested, which can be abrasive. Outbound tactics can include telemarketing, newspaper ads, mail flyers, online stores, email campaigns and more. Most companies employ some degree of outbound marketing as part of their overall advertising strategy, but it is increasingly not in step with the buying habits of modern consumers.
Targeting the Smarter Consumer
Inbound marketing, by contrast, is designed to let the customer make first contact. Successful inbound marketing involves placing content in relevant places and allowing customers to discover the content through their own daily habits. Inbound tactics have flourished with the rise of the Internet, and many companies now have blogs, post press releases and actively maintain social media accounts to interact with consumers. To further increase the likelihood of making contact with potential customers, inbound marketing may also include linking campaigns and other online partnerships to promote hits.
In this, marketing with inbound tactics is more likely to attract customers who are interested and, therefore, more likely to buy. After all, with this style of marketing, customers have to take a more active role. Without customer participation, there are no viable results. Outbound marketing may reach more people but there is no guarantee that these consumers are interested. Still, some businesses shy away from focusing too much on inbound tactics since they seem more passive. However, successfully employing this type of marketing is not about being passive but about being smart.
Good inbound tactics require an acute understanding of the client base. This knowledge is critical for placing information in the right spots. The best inbound strategies find ways to draw customers in. It is important to have a presence in certain circles. For example, a baby food company might want to forge partnerships with baby information sites, thereby enticing customers with a relevant interest and increasing the likelihood of getting exposure. Overall, inbound tactics focus on reaching people where they are already looking. Outbound marketing is more haphazard, like throwing spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is more directed and more likely to yield tangible results.
Permanent Presence Equals Increased Sales
Companies may be hesitant to invest too much in inbound marketing since outbound tactics have been the mainstay for years. However, consumer buying habits are dramatically shifting. People are less inclined to listen to a telemarketer and will throw out ads with the junk mail. Online shopping is continuing to expand, and more consumers than ever are utilizing the Internet for most of their purchases. This shift means that it is important to keep up with modern consumers, and good web content can be a critical way to reach these customers. Better still, an online presence can have a long term impact. Websites and social media accounts can take time to establish a following, but once established, such sites can be powerful elements of a long term business model.
Ultimately, inbound marketing requires a more individualized approach. Companies have to create an online presence and know how to network with interested consumers. By giving consumers a more active role, any hits are more likely to lead to actual sales, which makes inbound marketing a critical part of ongoing business success in the modern marketplace.