January 22nd, 2015

Understanding Inbound Marketing

The latest buzz in the world of marketing is the principle of inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is shaping out to be more than an online trend to being the predominant method marketing is carried out online. Hence the question is now changing from "what is inbound marketing?" to "what is my inbound marketing strategy?" As with many new methodologies, one of the simplest ways to try and adequately describe it is to compare it with what we already know (which in this case is outbound marketing). That's what we will attempt to do.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing represents most of the advertising techniques we have been exposed to. These include flyer under windshields, telemarketing and marketers making unsolicited calls to us hoping to make a sale. Here we basically have a generic message that is targeted to a broad audience with the hope that some within that audience will want to make a purchase. Inevitably, we have a lot of energy wasted on ears that have absolutely no intention to buy (and this represents a wasted budget).

Many of these techniques have ended up being a bother to the very market that they are targeted at. We now have technologies that block many of these forms of marketing. For example with TiVo, one is able to block out adverts between their favorite programs. XM radio is also basically commercial free. Online we now have spam blockers, do not call lists for telephone marketers and the list goes on. As result, out bound marketing has become less and less effective as time goes by.

Inbound Marketing

Marketing has changed fundamentally as consumers now have the power to research extensively on a product before they make a purchase. Search engines like Google and Bing as well as sites like Digg and Reddit are now almost ubiquitous support tools to the consumer when it comes to making purchase decisions. The only way to get seen hence is to be ranked highly on these media. A business has to be more visible online, more searchable. The beauty about this is that you get the attention of customers who have already made the purchase decision and are just deciding who to purchase from. This way you turn the internet into a powerful marketing tool.

Inbound marketing also offers the marketer the possibility of monitoring and analyzing customer preferences and online behavior. The internet is teeming with social media sites like Facebook, Stumble and Reddit which exploit this phenomenon and offer an opportunity to also provide inbound services.

Various inbound marketing techniques are currently available and should start appearing in the lexicon of the serious marketer. These are talked below;

Search engine optimization is the process of utilizing the organic (hence unpaid) part of search engines. It generally involves ensuring that your site has the appropriate key words that the search engine looks for. One can also work on the content of a web site to make it more relevant to specific searches.

Pay per click advertising allows ones who has a web site to sell "air space" and have the advertiser pay them only when someone clicks on them. Hence an online gaming site (with its own content, may make money by advertising other related games. When a gamer clicks on it and is redirected to the advertised site, the original site owner gets paid.

Buzz marketing has replaced the word of mouth advertising of the past. With web 2.0 with its profusion of social media sites, buzz advertising has been responsible for the popularity of neo culture icons such as Harry Potter, The Twilight trilogy, the new Volkswagen Beetle, Pokémon and others. Creating a buzz through social media such as Facebook also offers the advantage that the target population may have already self selected making it easier for the buzz to spread. For example the eager millions of teenagers waiting for the latest edition of the Twilight saga (we could also see the organization of the Arab spring over social media as an example of buzz marketing in its extreme).

Targeted landing pages and landing page optimization is where one is led to a page providing information after clicking on an advert. The pages are optimized to increase the probability of a sale.

All the above are used together with sophisticated analytic software to give a better picture of whose ones clients are. Added to these are blogging pages which one can leverage as a marketing tool.