There is no doubt that marketing strategies have changed significantly over the past several years. Companies of all sizes seem to be making a dramatic shift away from standard outbound marketing tactics, such as cold calling, email campaigns and direct mailings, and towards greater inbound marketing strategies that include SEO campaigns, content market, and, of course, social media marketing.
Best of all, consumers are even responding well to these new strategies. They seem to really like the shift from companies trying to hunt them down just to make a sale to the less intrusive tactics that are geared towards making the customer come to them. The goals now is for companies to make sure the consumer find their goods and services when searching for them online rather than try to persuade the customer into believing they need their goods or services.
While this shift from outbound to inbound marketing can clearly be seen across the board, the question remains as to if this transition is actually working to make outbound marketing redundant, or is there room in the marketing industry for both?
Outbound vs Inbound Marketing
The first step may be to take a closer look at just what the difference is between outbound and inbound marketing. Outbound marketing has been used for several decades now and for the most part, at least until recently, has proven to be quite successful. These marketing tactics include TV and radio ads, print advertisements in magazines or newspapers, direct mailings, tradeshow events, email campaigns, and cold calls.
The goal of this type of marketing is to persuade the consumer into believing that they need the goods and services offered by the company. Some of these tactics, such as cold calling and email marketing, are often perceived as intrusive by the consumer. This perception has only increased as inbound marketing strategies have risen.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, has been around for a few decades and has also seen a lot of success with the consumer. These tactics include SEO marketing to stay visible in the online search engines, content marketing to inform the consumer, and social media to connect with the consumer where they are. This strategy often includes a four-part process that attracts the customer, coverts the sale, closes the deal, and leaves the consumer delighted enough to share their experience.
This type of marketing is more about making sure the customer finds your goods or services when they are considering the purchase or ready to make the sale. These tactics are definitely perceived as being less intrusive by the consumer. In fact, if done correctly, the consumer will believe that the company is trying to be helpful, not just make a sale.
When it comes to determining which of these two marketing techniques is seeing the most success in today’s market, it all comes down to number. According to the State of Inbound Marketing Report from 2013, the average company website can more than double their conversion rate when inbound marketing strategies are used.
It is a little more difficult to judge the success of outbound marketing techniques, since a customer is not likely to tell you they made a purchase after watching a TV commercial or seeing an advertisement in a magazine. However, when it comes right down to it, the success rate seen with inbound marketing is one that outbound marketing just cannot compete with in today’s market.
The Return on Investment
For many companies the bottom line when considering any marketing strategy is what is the projected return on investment. Companies want to know how much in marketing expenses is needed to capture a sale. In a report released by HubSpot for 2012, the average costs per lead for inbound marketing was more than 60 percent lower than the cost per lead for outbound marketing strategies. In fact, the cost per lead for inbound marketing was $135 versus the $346 spent per lead for outbound marketing.
With the success rate of inbound marketing, in addition to providing a higher ROI, it is easy to see why many companies are increasing their inbound marketing budget. In fact, according to the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Annual Report, nearly 50 percent of the companies polled stated that they will spend more money on inbound marketing next year than they did last year.
Complexities of Inbound Marketing
You may be wondering by now, why every company has not thrown in the towel on outbound marketing and made the transition to only using inbound marketing techniques. After all, the 2013 State of Inbound Marketing Annual Report, also showed that 58 percent of the companies polled said they use inbound marketing techniques. While this is the majority of companies, there are still more than 40 percent of the companies that do not use inbound marketing techniques. In addition, the companies that do use inbound tactic do not solely rely on these methods.
One factor may be that business owners have a better understanding of how outbound techniques work because they have been using them for years. In addition, they may have limited resources available to them to learn everything that is involved with inbound strategies. After all, inbound marketing is not just about creating a dynamic website that uses all the right keywords. There is so much more involved.
The three main strategies used are SEO campaigns, content marketing, and social media exposure. The right combination of these inbound tactics can prove extremely successful for both small and large companies. A closer look at all three of these techniques is needed to truly understand the power of inbound marketing.
According to a study done by Conductor, nearly one-half of all the traffic to any given website originated through original search engine results. This statistic clearly explains why it is so important to create an SEO campaign strategy that will push your website higher in the search engine results. It is the very basis of inbound marketing. The bottom line is that you want the consumer to find your goods or services when they are searching for them.
While there was a time when the right keywords and links on your company website would help you get the search engine results you want, those days are over. Google, along with other leading search engines, have gone to great lengths in recent years to put an end to online scammer trying to trick the consumers and instead provide online users with reliable and trustworthy search engine results.
What does this mean to you? In essence, this means that you have to step up your game. Rather than just using a lot of keywords, it is more about using the right keywords at the right place. Basically, it pays to have the experts help you with this task because if you start using the wrong SEO tactics, such as too many keywords, the wrong keywords, or dead links, you may do more damage to your search engine ranking than help.
According to a report done by Search Engine Watch, the average cost to run a successful SEO campaign is anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000 every month. While this may seem like a large chunk out of your marketing budget, it is still relatively less expenses that many outbound tactics, such as cold calling and TV advertising.
Just as the usage of keywords on your website has become less importation, although still a vital part of any inbound marketing strategy, the type of content on your website has become more important. Consumers do not simply want to be entertained, they want to be informed. Perhaps this has something to do with the large number of scammers on the internet today, but consumers want to know they can trust your brand and that you care.
The right content can go a long way in giving the customers what they want. Companies are utilizing the online blogs, and guest blogging on other sites, to promote the fact that they care about their customers enough to share their knowledge with them. If done correctly, the right content can make the consumer feel that you are an authoritative source of information in your given industry and that they can trust what you say. Once you build this trust, you are likely to have gained a loyal customer.
For example, if you operate a beauty parlor providing content that helps the consumer will go a long way in building trust. For example, posting blogs that explain how to care for their hair, give makeup ideas, detail the latest fashions in hairstyles or tells them what the best beauty products to use are, will not only help the customer, but it will make you a go-to source for them. This, in turn, will make them more likely to come to your shop because you have built a trust with them.
Social Media Exposure
No inbound marketing campaign could be complete in today’s society without enhancing your social media exposure. Facebook alone now has over one billion users with nearly half of them check their Facebook account every day, many several times a day. In addition, one million links are shared on Facebook every 20 minutes, and 190 million tweets are sent out over Twitter every day. The power of social media is undeniable.
One of the obstacles that companies face is the sheer size of these social media networks. It is not enough to just simply set up a business page for each of these social media sites; you must also stay current and engaged with the consumers on a daily basis. It is vital that your branding remain fresh in the minds of your current and potential customers if you wish to remain competitive in today’s market.
While this may seem like a lot of extra resource spent on this type of inbound marketing, the success rate just cannot be denied. According to Shareaholic, companies who use social media inbound marketing strategies are reporting that more than 20 percent of their website traffic originates from Facebook. In addition, according to the State of Digital Marketing Annual Report for 2013, more than half of B2B and B2C marketers are generating leads from social median, and 30 percent of B2B marketers and 54 percent of B2C marketers are generating revenue from social media.
There are several tips to keep in mind when starting a social media campaign. First, you have to find out where your target audience is located. Just because Facebook is the largest network does not mean that is where you target customers hang out. In addition, be consistent and keep your information fresh. Remember everything is faster today, and your customer want, and demand, fast and efficient responses and information on social media.
Is Outbound Marketing Dead?
The fact remains that outbound marketing is not dead, just yet. After all, there are still plenty of TV ads, advertisement in the newspaper and magazines, and yes even an occasional cold call. However, this type of marketing has slowed down considerably and is expected to continue to drop in the upcoming years. The lower costs and greater success rate of inbound marketing is something that business owners will not just be able to ignore. They will undoubtedly be forced to make this transition whether they are ready or not.
For those business owners, especially small and medium size companies, who are reluctant to incorporate inbound strategies to their marketing plan, keep in mind that these techniques may put your business on a level playing field and allow you to compete better with even the larger companies. After all, small companies can rarely afford an ad on a local television station, but with inbound marketing you have a better chance at attracting the customers you need.
There are still some business owners who feel that inbound marketing strategies are not personal and it does not help them build a relationship with their customers. This could not be further from the truth. The fact is that your customers, especially the younger generations, turn to online sources and social media as their communication source. If you want to communicate your brand to them, you must go online and create a viable, well-developed, and efficient inbound marketing plan.
I trust you enjoyed this article on inbound marketing and I would love to hear your own thoughts?