Marketing is evolving and here at LocalDirect we like to think we’re pretty ahead of the curve when it comes to delivering some of the newer marketing technologies and techniques. What is very clear is that there has been a definite shift in recent years in the relationship between marketers and consumers, a shift from traditional outbound marketing to what, by comparison, has been called inbound marketing.
This shift is being driven by new media and new technology, which puts the consumer in more control than ever. More specifically, the internet, smartphones and social networking sites mean that information, an opinion, a recommendation or, indeed, a warning is never far away. Consumers are now easily able research products and services before buying them and are empowered to ask their social networks for recommendations before making a decision. The smartphone means that this research and testimonial seeking can now happen in store, whilst looking at a restaurant’s menu board or while watching TV.
This means that the traditional way of pushing an advert or marketing message to an audience, either via TV/radio, billboard advertising, magazine adverts, etc… is increasingly being accompanied by pull marketing, that is where the consumer initiates the marketing relationship by actively seeking information about a particular product or service. This is nothing new, as search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing have been around for ages, what is new however is the immediacy of the activity and the crucial role that social and mobile marketing can now play.
The new marketing communication — inbound marketing — has become a two-way dialogue, much of which is facilitated by social media.
Another reason why inbound marketing is becoming more prominent is because it costs less than traditional marketing. Why try to buy your way in when consumers aren’t even paying attention? Here are some stats from the infographic below.
- 44% of direct mail is never opened. That’s a waste of time, postage and paper.
- 86% of people skip through television commercials.
- 83% of marketers say that Facebook is critical or important to their business
- The cost per lead in outbound marketing is more than for inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing involves being found by your audience and then earning, rather than paying for their attention, which is done through demonstrating authority, providing engaging content and social interaction. It’s classic attraction and engagement and your content needs to be interesting, informative and add value, creating a positive connection in the eyes of the consumer, thus making him more likely to engage your brand and buy the product. Sounds difficult right? Well, here’s the good news – it isn’t and it costs less than outbound marketing and has better a ROI.
So what are the critical elements of an inbound marketing strategy?
Clearly social media plays a massive role in the new marketing model, so a clear and preferably customised and branded social media presence is an important factor to get right from the outsetas this gives you a professional platform from which to communicate with your audience. However, this what really matters is the interaction between you and your potential customer so a social media strategy is essential to ensure you engage your audience on an ongoing and consistent basis via your social networks. Many larger companies are already taking on dedicated members staff to exclusively manage their social media to ensure they get the most from the customer attraction, retention and reputation management opportunities afforded by these platforms. However for smaller companies who are struggling to keep up their social networks, our social media management services may be of interest.
The other critical elements are:
- making sure that you can be found online – so search engine optimisation is obviously of major importance, as is PPC advertising (although this strays into the grey are between inbound and outbound marketing)
- making sure that when you are found your content is easily accessible no matter what device your customer is using (i.e. desktop PC, laptop, tablet or Smartphone) – so making sure your website is optimised for mobile use, either from the outset or with the additional of a mobile website counterpart.
- making sure your content is syndicated across the web – nowadays your website doesn’t have to be your only piece of online real estate. One of the great strengths of Web 2.0 is the interconnectedness of the online space. Essentially, your content can be placed across many online properties, not just the social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but also blogging sites such as WordPress.com and Tumblr; article directories like Ezine articles; news aggregator sites; online directories, forums, wikis and numerous other places. All these properties act like gateways to your website and your main online presence so its well worth using as many properties as possible and the great thing is that syndicating your content in this way and placing backlinks to your main website from these gateway sites reinforces your search engine ranking, thereby aiding point 1 above.
This infographic courtesy of Voltier Digital highlights the differences between inbound and outbound marketing. Let us know your opinions in the comments below.