What are the marketing goals for your organisation?
Well, even without ever stepping foot inside your doors, I think I can make a pretty accurate guess, for marketing objectives are pretty much universal.
Let me see…
- Raise brand awareness
- Drive traffic to your website
- Increase footfall through your doors (if you have a physical store)
- Generate and nurture leads
- Retain existing customers
- Generate and increase sales
Sound about right?
I’m sure it does, for no matter the marketing strategy, the purpose invariably remains the same – to stamp a business’s presence firmly on the proverbial map, promote its products and/or services, and ultimately make more sales.
However, despite the fact that we all, as marketers, share similar goals, the tactics we use can vary considerably.
Inbound Marketing Vs. Outbound Marketing
The outbound vs. inbound marketing showdown is perhaps the most illustrative example.
Most people are familiar with outbound marketing – aka “traditional marketing”. The practices involved with outbound include things like TV and radio commercials, printed advertisements (including newspaper and magazine ads, brochures, flyers and posters), email blasts and cold calls.
What all these tactics have in common is the fact that they are designed to deliver unsolicited marketing messages at times that may simply be intrusive or inconvenient for the recipient. To put it another way, outbound marketing practices tend to force information onto people, regardless of whether they have requested it or not.
Inbound marketing, by contrast, is all about providing information to prospects at times when it is convenient for them.
The digital revolution has ushered in the age of the empowered consumer. No longer do people have to rely on advertisements or salespeople to find out what they need to know about a product or service – nor do they want to.
Indeed, these days, when someone is looking to make a purchase, they head online and conduct a search – and a sound inbound marketing strategy is designed to ensure that the most appropriate information is delivered to that potential customer at that precise moment.
Inbound Marketing Goals Are the Same as Outbound
You can see why inbound marketing is becoming increasingly favoured by marketers – as with most things, it’s consumer demand that’s inevitably driving change.
89% of UK organisations now use inbound or content marketing tactics (88% in the States). And, as mentioned above, they are doing so to achieve the exact same goals that traditional marketing has always been geared towards:
(Image source: Content Marketing in the UK 2016: Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends)
However, despite this, some organisations are still reluctant to get onboard with inbound marketing. There are a number of possible reasons for this.
First, inbound marketing is a relatively new practice, and, as such, many firms may not fully understand exactly what it is and are simply too embarrassed to admit it. Second, they may fear that inbound is not sales-oriented enough (when in fact it is – it’s only the approach that’s different). Third, they may not have the time, money or resources in-house to construct an inbound marketing campaign.
These are all genuine reasons for resistance. They are, however, unfortunate – for the fact remains that employing an inbound marketing strategy will be hugely beneficial for business in more ways than one.
Indeed, if you still need convincing of the benefits, then take a look at these 5 key problems that inbound marketing will solve for your business.
5 Key Problems Inbound Marketing Solves for Your Business
1. Marketing Budget and ROI
TV commercials, tradeshows, newspaper ads, cold call blasts – these are all highly expensive endeavours that require huge amounts of effort, labour-hours and resources to execute.
And there’s a further problem – they all have an inherently short shelf-life. A TV commercial may last, say, 90-seconds, and then – even if the viewer didn’t instinctively change channels in the first place – will vanish irretrievably into the past. Newspaper ads present the same problem – no one reads yesterday’s papers, let alone last week’s, and so if the ad is missed, it’s missed. Cold calls, well – how often have you slammed the phone down or shut the door in the face of these?
By contrast, when you create a piece of inbound content for the web, it lasts forever (or as long as you deem it to be relevant). Blog posts, YouTube videos, infographics, whitepapers – this content will still remain online and turn up in search engines perhaps years after you first published it.
Brian Halligan from HubSpot talks about inbound vs outbound ROI (return on investment):
“I think outbound marketing techniques are getting less and less effective over time for two reasons. First, your average human today is inundated with over 2000 outbound marketing interruptions per day and is figuring out more and more creative ways to block them out, including caller ID, spam filtering, TiVo, and Sirius satellite radio. Second, the cost of coordination around learning about something new or shopping for something new using the internet (search engines, blogs, and social media) is now much lower than going to a seminar at the Marriott or flying to a trade show in Las Vegas.”
To summarise – creating and publishing inbound content is significantly cheaper than outbound and produces a higher ROI. Indeed, HubSpot’s The State of Inbound 2016 report reveals that businesses that rely mainly on inbound save more than $14 for every newly acquired customer. Furthermore, inbound leads cost on average 61% less to acquire than outbound leads. Put simply, inbound marketing is the cost-efficient solution to drive more leads and more sales.
2. Website Traffic
Competition for online attention is rife. As such, even the best website in the world playing host to the best business in the world isn’t going to receive any visits unless you give all those empowered consumers out there a reason to visit it.
Inbound marketing involves the strategic creation of search engine optimised website content in combination with a social media strategy to amplify it.
With research and well-defined buyer personas, an inbound marketing strategy will help you determine exactly where your prospects are searching for information on the web, what the information is that they’re searching for, and thusly enable you to distribute that exact information in the very places that they are most likely to see it and be receptive to it.
From here, these prospects will click-through to your website, providing the boost in targeted traffic that all businesses operating in the digital age need.
[inline-form]30 of the Greatest Lead Generation Tips Ebook[inline-form]
The problem with outbound marketing messages is that consumers no longer trust them. Of course brands are going to “big-up” their own products and services – “Buy this! It’s great! You want it! You need it! Buy it now!”
Inbound marketing purposefully avoids this approach. Rather than delivering constant “Buy it now!” messages that people have grown to be wary of, the content instead is designed to deliver something of value without asking for anything in return – and we all want something for nothing, right?
As you can see from the graph above, people have more trust in personal recommendations, written content and websites than traditional advertising.
Inbound marketing is your brand’s opportunity to create content that solves people’s problems through the delivery of sound advice and helpful information – be it directly concerned with your product or service, or with something larger.
In turn, you can use this content to position your organisation as an industry expert or even as a thought leader in your field. Credibility comes with trust, and by adding value to your brand through the strategic delivery of free and useful information, you can build both in abundance.
4. Merging Sales and Marketing
“Companies with strong sales and marketing alignment achieve 20% annual growth rate, and companies with poor sales and marketing alignment have a 4% revenue decline.”
So reveals research from Aberdeen Group.
However, Marketing Week tells us that “Despite the fact that 80% of businesses recognise the benefits of greater alignment between sales and marketing, most (60%) aren’t unifying their divisions.”
Indeed, marketing and sales have traditionally worked independently (often at loggerheads) – and the merging of the two is no mean feat, despite the widespread recognition that this is a practice that drives results.
Inbound marketing, however, enables your sales and marketing teams to join forces in the creation of high-powered, conversion-driving content.
Sales teams are sources of key insights as to what information customers lack when they pick up the phone to engage with a brand one-on-one.
As mentioned, inbound marketing is about answering questions and solving pain-points that prospects and existing customers have. Knowing what these problems are and the questions they are asking is therefore vital.
Working together, sales and marketing can contribute to the creation of highly-targeted content that directly addresses the problems that customers have. Strategic distribution of this content will subsequently result in better-qualified leads at earlier stages in the path-to-purchase journey, meaning more conversions, and better retention rates.
5. Message Consistency
What is your brand’s core message?
You may or may not have this documented. It may be contained within your tagline – it may not. But one thing’s for sure – on the path-to-purchase journey, your prospects will be engaging with your online output, and ensuring that you are delivering a consistent message is key to success.
Inbound marketing methods enable you to first define your brand’s message, and then reiterate it and amplify it across a whole range of channels – from your website to your blog to your social networks.
A good messaging strategy will even result in your following reinforcing it in the reviews and comments they leave online. Indeed, inbound marketing isn’t only designed to get more people to buy from you, but also to ensure that your customers buy-in to your brand and its philosophy as a whole.
Through a comprehensive inbound content marketing strategy, you will be crafting your brand’s personality in no-uncertain terms, and be able to create the “feel-good” factor that you want your prospects to experience every time they make a purchase from you.