By now, you have probably heard about the fourth industrial revolution or digital transformation, which probably means that you’ve also already encountered the term inbound marketing. Today, inbound has become a more familiar term, but we shouldn’t forget that it originated only in 2005 and has only become more intensively used since 2012.
Inbound marketing has been active for over 10 years now, but still not all of us are familiar with the term or know exactly what it means. However, some of the things we do today are based on this methodology and we have applied them intuitively, guided by the laws of the market and technological advancements.
To make inbound methodology as clear as possible, I will first remind you of what we mean when we talk about outbound marketing and what it consists of.
Outbound marketing is a traditional marketing method where we somewhat “disrupt” potential consumers/customers. Outbound marketing enters our private space, but it does not consider whether we are interested in the information it’s giving us, whether it’s the right time for such information, which unfortunately in most cases just annoys consumers/customers and gets on their nerves. Of course, there are exceptions and nothing is black and white, but this is the easiest way to understand the difference.
Outbound marketing involves activities such as TV ads, radio ads, pop-up banners, trade shows, telemarketing, cold calling, posters, etc. Mostly, these are all techniques where the consumer is not in the center and where information is imposed on them in one way or another. By using this method, we are actually buying our customers’ attention, but at the same interrupt them in some of their actions and impose a certain message on them. Depending on the curiosity and the relevance of such a method and whether it has reached us in a fun, creative way, all of this will impact how we will experience this message and whether it will encourage us to take a particular action.
Outbound marketing is usually harder to track and less profitable than inbound marketing, and yet most companies still spend a large portion of their marketing budgets on outbound marketing.
Generally speaking, the biggest problems with outbound marketing are:
- difficult monitoring of ROI (return on investment)
- ad-blockers (no-call lists, spam filters,…)
- high cost, low income
That is why it is very important that we turn to using inbound methodology and place our consumer at the center of our marketing activities. When I say that we need to put the consumer/customer in the center, it means that what should matter to us is what individuals are interested in, how they get information, how we can help them with our product/service, what media they prefer, and the like. With the coming of the fourth industrial revolution, in which information is available to us every step of the way, as well as a plethora of choices, it is now consumers that hold all the power.
Inbound marketing is the complete opposite of outbound marketing and uses other techniques and a different approach to the consumer. The inbound methodology is based on attracting, engaging and delighting consumers, all with the aim of building trust, providing added value and increasing overall revenue. As technology evolves, inbound offers a new business approach, one which is more human and useful. Satisfied customers will always come back to you, they will do business with you again, and there is a great chance that they will bring in new customers because they will willingly advertise your products and excellent service, that is, they will become your brand ambassadors.
Put this way, it is very easy to conclude that we should increasingly turn to inbound marketing. Inbound may come naturally in the B2B world, but it shouldn’t be disregarded in B2C businesses either.
I often hear questions about privacy, but I think that we are all aware that these things are already happening. As a consumer, I feel the benefits of this methodology because the information, offers and content that reaches me is what really interests me. Of course, this is only true if the content is well thought out and relevant.
◉ 1. Metrics
One of the biggest outbound marketing drawbacks is certainly the measurability of results. Of course, there are ways and methods to determine how outbound has affected sales, but there are always many factors involved and we cannot claim anything with 100% certainty. In inbound marketing, we mostly use digital tools and get measurable advertising results. Methods used are ones you can test and then tailor accordingly to your target audience. That way, you can know exactly which of your marketing activities has brought you the most customers, where you’ve invested the most money, what brought the least customers…
What is important to emphasize is the following: inbound marketing is a lot of work! In order to achieve the best results, you must first set a strategy well, define goals and then constantly monitor the performance and success of the strategies you’ve set. You have the ability to test just about anything you do. You can safely determine which messages, content types, visuals, call to action banners and so on work best for your target audience.
◉ 2. Dialogue
In classic outbound campaigns, dialogue with consumers is quite limited. Inbound marketing gives you the option of communicating with your consumers. This way you can better understand what is bothering them, what they need and offer them content that is right for them.
Remember: CONTENT IS THE KING!
Through dialogue with your consumers, they gain a more positive impression of the brand (company), which strengthens your connection with them. The result is customer trust. Once you have their trust, this is the most valuable thing you can attain.
It’s important to interact with your customers – answer their questions, like their comments and pictures on social media, follow up on bad comments, etc. This will build a long-term relationship.
In inbound marketing, you can create a dialogue with your customers through various channels – the more channels you use, the clearer idea you will have about your customers. This does not mean that you necessarily have to use all channels available – you will use the ones that make the most sense for your type of business. E-mail, live chat, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Whatsapp is just the beginning of what is available. Additionally, you can use newsletters, automated e-mails and such to provide the right information at the right time to the right people.
◉ 3. Added value
In inbound marketing, customer attention is of the highest value. Understanding their consumer journeys and providing them with relevant information at the right time. I’m repeating myself now, but really all of the magic lies in content that will be useful to your consumers – either by solving a problem, providing additional information, educating them on a topic or pointing out a solution to a problem they might have. Depending on what stage of their consumer journey they are at, they evaluate different information differently and look for different things.
The content we offer must certainly be of good quality, useful, interesting and valuable. The content is designed according to the target group, individual industry, product or service. But the starting point is definitely the target group, because they are the main reason why we do it.
Once the content meets all the necessary criteria, it is very important through which channels we will place it. Just to remind you of everything you have at your disposal – SEO optimization, landing pages, forms, white papers, blog, social media…
It should be remembered that inbound doesn’t stop with marketing, but can also be applied to sales, but this is a whole new topic that we will be discussing another time.
In conclusion, I can say that the internet has completely changed the way we buy products and how we communicate with each other and with brands. This change is slowly but fundamentally changing marketing techniques and strategies. Certainly, both as individuals and as businesses, we need to adapt to this and find the direction that works best for us.