The continuing rise of inbound marketing has seen many companies scrambling to embrace it and take advantage of its many benefits. It is a dynamic tool with tremendous scope to be customised to the specific needs of your business.
However, inbound marketing can be quite broad in the number of techniques and methods it incorporates so getting to grips with what it is can sometimes be a challenge.
Inbound is broad in terms of what it includes but it essentially covers any marketing approach that draws customers to you rather than forcing a message on an audience that may or may not include your customers. Importantly it does not disrupt your customer’s content engagement as outbound does, it forms a part of that content engagement and offers customers a value proposition.
Most of what inbound marketing involves is made possible by the internet. That is not to say that all online marketing is inbound. Banner ads and email spam are typical examples of outbound on the web.
Inbound’s more sophisticated approach to taking advantage of the power of the web includes marketing actions such as viral videos and SEO as well as less exciting but equally powerful tools such as email news letters and white-papers.
A key difference between inbound and outbound marketing is the inherent value proposition made by inbound. Inbound provides potential customers with something useful, informative, entertaining or interesting. That valuable engagement brings them willingly to the point of sale.
Outbound marketing offers very little in the way of a value proposition for customers. The outbound message disrupts their consumption of other content in the form of a TV or newspaper ad or even just their visual space in the form of a billboard.
Many different marketing approaches fall under the scope of inbound marketing and content marketing is one of the most important. More than any other component of inbound marketing content marketing is vital to inbound. Others can be useful tools that allow a variety of approaches but without content inbound simply does not work.
One of the core benefits inbound marketing has over outbound is the ability to target a specific demographic or tailor a campaign to appeal to a certain market segment. This makes for much more efficient and economical marketing expenditure.
The return on investment provided by inbound is several times that of outbound. Rather than spending a large amount sending your message to a wide audience in the hopes that a small portion of them will respond, inbound shares content with a narrow audience with the expectation that a large portion of them will respond.
Content consumers can also share inbound marketing content and can more readily discern who that content will engage with. This adds a layer of dynamic focus to inbound that can be difficult to cause or to quantify but is invaluable when it happens.
Because the process of inbound engagement is so targeted and only appeals to those customers to whom your product is relevant, the leads that ultimately come through are more knowledgeable and more enthusiastic about the product or service. This in turn means that those leads convert into sales at a much higher rate and require far less expenditure to convert.
Far from being an empty buzzword, Inbound Marketing is a dynamic and cost effective approach to marketing that can be applied to any type of business.