Traditional or “outbound” marketing is what we grew up with: radio and television ads, direct mail, newspapers, magazines and billboards. The outbound approach has also been tried in digital formats such as banner ads, email blasts (SPAM) and pay-per-click. Back in the day, ad hacks like Don Draper were rewarded for being clever and reaching consumers with the promise of enhanced lifestyles and unconscious desires but dwindling audiences and increased awareness and costs have broken the old marketing playbook.
Outbound marketing is just jargon where repetition and appealing to the lowest common denominator is all too often used for maximizing conversions. This has become an extraordinary turn-off for most of the population. Is it any wonder these methods are becoming less effective? The time to embrace inbound marketing is now!
Inbound Marketing: Recognizing Opportunity
In ever-increasing numbers consumers are researching companies and products online. For inbound marketers this behavioural shift represents real opportunity. They realize it is not only about bringing in website visitors, but understanding how to best convert visitors to leads and to nurture those relationships for becoming repeat customers and even advocates for your brand.
Interruption-based Marketing versus Permission-based Marketing
The premise of outbound marketing is to use a mass medium and “interrupt” that medium with disassociated ads. By researching demographics and testing, a small percentage of a mass audience will observe the interruption and convert to a customer. While radio and television are the most obvious examples, the principle is also applied to print, spam and banner ads. For decades this has been the model but the ROI (return on investment) is low and becoming less and less attractive.
Inbound marketing is permission-based. Here the marketer communicates across mediums in which the audience has given direct or implicit permission to communicate. Often this is accomplished by answering questions the audience is asking and optimizing their answers through websites and social media in anticipation of the question. The audience becomes far smaller than in outbound marketing but is much more on point. With good keyword targeting, SEO and content strategy conversion rates are unprecedented.
An old-school example of permission-based marketing is the Yellow Pages. Before Google, the Yellow Pages was where prospects would actually look for specific businesses without being interrupted. In every city, many companies (think taxis) would be named AAA or AAAAA to be at the top of that list! There is no question the ROI worked for decades.
Content is King
If you haven’t heard that “content is King” for websites then perhaps you have been living in a cave or on some decades-long nature trek (and reeeeeally need our help). Inbound marketing is driven by creating great content. It is about educating, entertaining and engaging your audience in a way they can relate to; with openness, transparency and when appropriate, emotion. Content needs to be specific and useful. To be successful, it answers questions, engages, builds trust and even creates or works on a sense of belonging or community.
From Cobourg and Port Hope to Peterborough, Lindsay and throughout the Kawarthas, we have seen businesses and organizations rush to get on to social media; but how effective are these efforts? Digital marketers that simply throw tweets and posts out to the universe with a prayer are approaching the internet with clumsy outbound marketing. [I shudder to think of all the dreadful out-of-focus snapshots I see posted.] Inbound marketing is more complex, using multiple digital channels to distribute engaging, original content while constantly building on your keyword strategy.
Inbound marketing works because you are communicating to an audience that has given you permission to tell your story, to answer their questions through your own distribution channels, with quantifiable metrics. It works for our clients and m-design can help make it work for you.