What Is Inbound Marketing?
In a lot of ways, absolutely everything you need to know about the current state of digital marketing can be summed up with the following statistic: more than 615 million devices worldwide now use some type of ad blocking software on a regular basis.
So not only is the value of every traditional ad continuing to decline, but the very concept of an advertisement itself is less and less relevant as time marches on. The people have spoken: they're tired of getting hit with ads from every direction, all day, every day. But at the same time, as a business, you still need to sell your products and services and even your brand to the widest possible audience.
So how do you reconcile these two ideas that seem to be quite at odds with one another? Simple: you take full advantage of what inbound marketing techniques like blogging, social media marketing and more can bring to the table.
What is Inbound Marketing?
If you had to summarize the differences between outbound marketing and inbound marketing as simply as possible, it would come down to the following ideas:
- Outbound marketing is where you reach out directly to your consumer and begin a conversation, either via direct mail, telemarketing, industry events or things of that nature.
- Inbound marketing is where you make yourself available through a variety of different means like content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO) and things of that nature and give people the opportunity to find you easily when the need eventually arises.
They're very similar in the fact that both essentially leave you to succeed or fail depending on your ability to sustain a conversation with your target audience members, but how that conversation begins is where the true differences truly lay.
Though it's very true to say that outbound marketing can be successful for a lot of businesses, it's also hard to argue against the massive benefits that only inbound efforts will bring to the table - particularly in terms of giving you the opportunity to increase web traffic, generate leads (and more qualified leads) and more. Consider the following statistics:
- According to one study, a full 80% of business decision makers say that they would rather get brand information via a helpful series of articles as opposed to through traditional advertising.
- According to Mashable, the cost of three out of four inbound marketing channels tends to be less than the cost of any single outbound marketing channel that you may happen to be using.
- According to HubSpot, leads generated via inbound marketing tend to cost as much as 61% less on average than outbound leads.
Inbound marketing is also hugely beneficial because, in the modern era, people don't really like to be "sold" to any longer. Because people are being bombarded with so many advertisements during essentially every second of every day (and this is before you start to think about the content they actually want to consume), their attention is being fragmented in so many different directions that it can be hard to keep track of it all.
According to B2B Marketing Insider, for example, the average attention span of an online shopper is just eight seconds. Likewise, a massive 84% of peoplewho responded to an additional survey between the ages of 25 and 34 say that they've left a website that they considered to be a favorite due to intrusive advertising. So not only are people tired of being "sold to", they've actively started to hate it.
This is where the true strength of inbound marketing rests. It still allows you to sell your products, your services and your brand, but it puts a far deeper level of control back into the hands of your consumers where it belongs. People want to use the Internet to research purchases before they make them - but that's a ball that they're more than happy to get rolling on their own. Once they've gotten to the point where they feel like they can't go any farther without reaching out to you, they will - meaning that people will start to encounter your teams much farther down the sales funnel than ever before, too.
But also consider the fact that inbound marketing techniques like blogging are almost the perfect types of employees. If you were still heavily dependent on outbound techniques like telemarketing, there are only so many calls that an employee can make in a day - and because they're trying to make as many as possible, the actual quality of the leads generated in this fashion tend to be very, very low.
A blog filled with dozens of high quality articles (or landing pages with timely offers), on the other hand, are immediately available to your customers when they want them. A blog doesn't have to eat, sleep or take a vacation. You never have to worry about a blog getting sick or having an "off day." It's there, selling your products and spreading the word 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
That alone is the type of benefit that it is largely impossible to replicate via traditional outbound marketing alone by design.
Building Better Relationships With Inbound Marketing
There's a reason why, according to a study conducted by Inbound Marketing Agents, a full 32% of surveyed brands say that they're planning on cutting down on outbound marketing to put more of their budget into inbound marketing tactics. It isn't just incredibly effective today - it allows you to take full advantage of the direction the entire marketing industry is headed in to begin with.
This, of course, is before you also think about additional benefits like the fact that your sales and marketing teams are better aligned, the fact that you're generating a higher number of superior quality leads and much, much more.