27 Feb Inbound marketing: are you in?
Over the last few years, the way marketing works has fundamentally changed. It’s no longer enough to have a great product or service and push it at people through interruptive advertising; people now have the choice to quickly filter what they do and don’t want. Your customers are no longer a passive audience that you can subject to your messages; the huge shift to online content means consumers are increasingly ‘opting-in’ to brands; choosing what blogs to read, the promotions they receive, and who to follow on Twitter.
Buyers are using the internet to make purchasing decisions about what products and services will best meet their needs. According to Hubspot, 78% of consumers now search online before buying a product.As a result, businesses need to turn their attention to inbound marketing as a way of complimenting this change in customer behaviour. Instead of broadcasting messages at consumers, inbound marketing works on the principle of earning the customer’s attention without being too intrusive; developing useful, relevant and engaging content, which consumers want to ‘tune-in’ to.
The omnipresence of social media and frictionless sharing means the lines are blurring between who can be a content producer. With nearly a quarter of UK internet time spent on social media and blogs (according to Ofcom), everyone can share experiences of brands, tweet about a company, and ‘check-in’ to places on their Smartphone. Inbound marketing reflects this, and treats the consumer as an active participant in the conversation.
With the rise of inbound marketing, content is more important than ever. Businesses should create value content by taking a multifaceted approach and utilising platforms relevant for their customers i.e. blogs, e-books, white papers and social media channels. This is all about creating content that consumers will easily find, want to hear about and keep coming back for more.
Of course, there is still much merit for outbound marketing, particularly for companies in consumer industries, such as retail. Print, radio and TV advertisements, direct mail and trade shows can all deliver significant returns. But with costs on the rise, and efficiency on the decline, these traditional methods are losing their value.
It may take longer to convert that consumer in to a customer through inbound marketing, but having engaged them with your company and its ethos, they are more likely to be loyal. Plus, you have the additional benefit of gaining their feedback through digital platforms.
Companies that use inbound marketing effectively and offer consumers something more – honest and authentic content with real value – will build stronger relationships with potential clients, drive traffic to their website, create more leads and ultimately drive more sales.