A to Z of Marketing: I = Inbound Marketing

The A to Z of marketing is designed to give you a flavour of the multitude of components that need to be considered when marketing  a business.

This week we look at I = inbound marketing.

Inbound Marketing is a term to explain a different way in marketing your business.  Historically marketing has very much been viewed as an outbound discipline, also known as “push marketing”.

In short what this means is a company proactively pushing a message out to a marketplace – quite often through channels such as advertising, exhibitions, PR, e-shots, direct mail or a commission driven sales team.

It is a scattergun “look at me” approach, often to a mass audience, where you may get lucky and secure some sales – but the chances are your return on investment won’t be too great.

Obviously the more targeted this outbound marketing is – the better response and return rates you will get.  However bearing in mind the average person is exposed to an average of around 2000-3000 outbound marketing messages per day – you have to cut through a hell of a lot of “marketing noise” to get your message heard.

Inbound marketing , also known as “pull marketing”, is centred around placing yourself in a position where prospects naturally come to you when they are actively in the market for your product or service.

Because they are ready to purchase, they are far more receptive to your messages and communications and so your conversion rates are far greater.  Your “marketing noise” is actively being seeked.

Surely all of us would like to be in this scenario?  Customers, ready to buy, actually contacting us and looking for us to solve their problem or need?   If we can’t convert these types of prospects there is something seriously wrong somewhere!

So Inbound marketing is all about being findable.  Key channels in mastering the art of being found are online and also building up a positive reputation that will enhance the natural word of mouth referrals you receive.

Taking a look at your online strategy, there are a number of components that all contribution to your inbound findability – search engine optimisation, blogging and social media activity.

All of these will lead an active prospect to your website.  It is then the job of your website to engage and communicate to a level that is going to make that prospect contact you for more information.

It is no good getting the first half right and driving lots of traffic to your site if your site then turns the hot lead cold.  Similarly there is little point having an awesome site if you are not getting the active prospect to find it.

Inbound/outbound and push/pull marketing is a conundrum that many marketers take the wrong option with.  Whatever industry you are in, the likelihood is that you will need a mix of both.

However more of your efforts should go into creating an inbound marketing strategy as it will be far more cost effective in the long run!

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.