We have talked a lot about Inbound Marketing over the past few years. But what are the real differences between inbound marketing and more traditional outbound marketing?
More importantly, what are the performance improvements and are they significant enough to leave the safety of traditional marketing tactics behind?
First, let’s look at the differences between inbound and outbound marketing. Here are a couple of examples:
Example 1 – People Call You vs. You "Cold Calling" Them
This should be fairly straightforward. Yes, if you make 100 phone calls to 100 people in your target market, you might get lucky and stumble on a couple of people who are interested in your products or services.
At the same time, you would probably get 98 people who were annoyed that you interrupted them. After all, how do you feel when you get a cold call? Now think about the cost required for someone to make those 100 phone calls. Did it take an hour, two hours, three hours and what was the quality of those calls during the last 30 minutes when your caller had been hung up on 90 other times? This just isn’t the most effective way to go.
Now consider a marketing tactic that drives people to pick up the phone and call you. Yep, people actually call (or email) you with to talk about your products or services. This can be easily done by placing the right set of Call To Actions (CTAs) on your website and other websites. These CTAs encourage people with purchasing pains to reach out to you directly. You should be able to see the efficiency gains from this scenario as well as the improved perception of your company vs. the interruptive cold calling tactic.
Example 2 – Placing Content vs. Advertising (print or web)
Advertisers charge based on the potential number of people who will SEE your advertisement. This has been the model in TV, radio, print and web media since the beginning of time.
This is the easiest way for them to charge and the best way for them to get the highest prices for their inventory. But this is the worst way for you to pay for exposure. Why? Because you are paying for people who will never want, need, or even see your ads. You should be paying per lead. But try asking any advertiser for this type of model (as I have in the past) and they will laugh.
Now you have a scenario where you are paying for impressions and your target buyers aren’t seeing them. Look at your DVR. Do you watch the commercials? Someone paid for those and we don’t watch them. Look at magazines, don’t you page past the ads or change the channel on your radio when commercials come on? Advertisers don’t get a credit when this happens and it happens a lot.
Inbound marketing suggests that you create compelling educational content. Not an ad, but a white paper, tip guide, video, research study, podcast, presentation, eBook or infographic and share it with the same group of people who would be seeing your advertisement. You do this by finding the places on the internet where your target market is already spending time and sharing your content there.
This approach is similar to selecting a magazine that you know your prospects are reading and placing an ad there but there are some big differences in play. One, the content is designed to help your prospects, whereas the ad is designed to help your company. Two, the ad doesn’t do anything to get the prospect to tell you who they are and the content does exactly that: if they want to download your relevant and informative free report, they have to identify themselves to you. Finally, most ads are only for those people who want to buy at that exact moment in time when they see the ad. But eductional content is designed for people starting to look, already looking, as well as those ready to buy today. Many more people are attracted to educational content vs. a traditional advertisement.
Example 3 – Blogging (Guest Blogging too) vs. Public Relations
In the past, to use the media, you created a compelling story, targeted key editors and then shopped the story around until someone covered it. Right now there are far fewer reporters and even less editors than ever before. The ones who remain are busy covering more areas with less time to do their jobs.
With inbound marketing, you still create the news but the outlets are blogs. Now you take your stories, thought leadership, ideas, positions and helpful hints out to the thousands of blogging sites and offer them this content for their readers. The good news here is that they actually want your content and they are happy to publish your content with links back to your websites, increasing traffic, conversions and leads.
Again, this inbound effort is much more efficient -- you don't pay for the advertising space, you only pay for the time it takes to get the post written and distributed. This approach gets your business in front of many more people and utilizes your overall inbound marketing methods to not only get coverage, but to get more leads for your businesses.
Start Today Tip – Marketing should have one single mission: to generate leads. If your marketing is doing anything other than that, it's misdirected. Given that focus; take a long and hard look at the results. Are you spending money and not getting leads? Are you spending time and not increasing traffic to your website? Are you investing in people, projects and tactics that aren’t resulting in quantifiable return?
Then it’s possible you need to start moving away from traditional outbound tactics and into more efficient inbound marketing efforts. Every marketing effort can easily be converted to inbound and the results are usually obvious within 30 days. Need help? Let’s talk.
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