Getting off on the right foot in 2015 is going to be critical. So, knowing what inbound marketing is and what it isn’t should be at the top of the list.
Inbound marketing is a practice that helps you focus your marketing efforts on people who are already looking for you. This is not like traditional marketing, which encourages you to put your messages “out there” and interrupt your target prospects in the hopes that they will want what you’re offering.
Let me illustrate the fundamental differences between inbound marketing and traditional outbound advertising.
When Did Advertising Stop Working?
For the sake of argument, let’s lump all types of traditional marketing into this bucket. Trade shows, direct mail, cold calling, advertising of any kind – they all work based on the same premise: You rent the audience and get your messages in front of it over and over again, all in the hopes that these people will remember and call you when they need what you have to offer.
Ask any of the sales people who are selling lists, space at shows, appointment-setting services or advertising of any kind, and they will tell you, “No, I can’t get you leads, but I can put you in front of the people who are able to buy your product or service." In essence, they are able to help you “get your name out there.”
The Costs Associated With Getting Your Name Out There
That used to be exactly what marketing execs and ad agencies got paid to do: create the ads, the campaigns, the show booths, etc. Getting your name out there was the name of the game. But, the math behind this exercise started to become hard to swallow.
First, you have to be in it for the long haul. You have to go to a lot of shows, you have to make a lot of phone calls, you have to send out a lot of postcards and you have to run your ads for months and months. So, let’s say we interrupted one million people over the course of six months. Because they never expressed any interest of any kind in anything your business does, the response rate on all that traditional stuff is going to be very low, maybe .01%. This would mean that 100 people were interested enough to pick up the phone or click over to your site and say, “Hey, I saw your ad and want to chat.” Great, right?
Well, maybe not so great because the cost of those 100 leads was staggering, given everything it took for you to get them. And, by the way, if you want another 100 leads, you have to do it all over again. Go to all those shows, make all those calls, buy all that advertising and send all those postcards.
How Inbound Is Different
This is where inbound really starts to look attractive and completely different. Inbound focuses on those people who are ALREADY LOOKING FOR YOU. It takes the same messaging and places it so that the people who are searching for or reading, writing or inquiring about products and services like yours are able to see that you have something to help them. It doesn’t interrupt; it helps.
In addition, traditional stuff only encourages people who are ready to buy today. But, most people are NOT ready to buy today. Inbound focuses on people in all phases of their buyer journey by providing educational information, not advertising. The result is a more efficient, highly effective marketing methodology that is also sustainable, grows exponentially over time and continues to generate leads month over month as long as you maintain it.
The New Math Around Inbound
Here are the numbers for inbound: To generate the same 100 leads, you need to drive around 10,000 people to your website. This assumes a very low and extremely conservative 1% conversion rate. This isn’t a monthly number, but rather a total number. You can do this in one month or 10 months. Once you do, you’re going to get your 100 leads.
What works well with inbound is that it’s not too difficult to drive up your website traffic to a number like 10,000 and then sustain it or even grow it, resulting in the delivery of 100 leads every single month. You should be starting to see the difference between inbound and outbound, including the sustainability of the methodology.
It's true that inbound marketing is more complex than simply purchasing a flight of ads in a magazine, attending a few trade shows, getting some postcards together or hiring a cold-calling company to set up appointments for your sales team. It does take planning, it does take strategy and it does take someone with the ability to put all the pieces in place, tie them together and manage that execution day in and day out. It also takes someone who is able to review the performance in real time and knows how to optimize that performance so you don’t end up with 100 leads, but rather 500 or even 1,000.
Start Today Tip – It’s likely that you’ve been frustrated with the performance of your marketing over the past few years. That’s simply because people – your prospects included – don’t respond to the old tactics. In 2015, you have an option: Continue doing what hasn’t worked and hope it works better, or consider that hope is NOT a strategy. Start evolving away from the traditional stuff and start implementing inbound tactics that do more than just get your name out there, actually producing leads that your sales team is able to follow up on, close and turn into revenue.
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