If you’re running an online business, you’ll probably have come across the phrase ‘inbound marketing’ more than a handful of times. But what is this marketing phenomenon, and how can it help your business thrive and grow?
The definition of inbound marketing
Hubspot has described inbound marketing as a way of ‘using marketing to bring potential customers to you, rather than having your marketing efforts fight for their attention’. In fact, one of the best ways to describe what inbound marketing is is to take a look at its polar opposite, outbound marketing.
Outbound marketing is an outdated method, where the main aim was to push products or services onto consumers. Customers are sought by direct mail, TV advertisements or cold calls to their home – all of the communication is one-way traffic from the company to the consumer, and it can leave some potential customers feeling bombarded and irritated.
If it sounds ineffective, it’s because it was – and that’s why the shift towards inbound marketing has taken place. Inbound marketing involves interactivity between company and consumer, and the critical marketing tactic is to earn the consumer’s interest and respect, rather than aggressively marketing products to them. Content marketing is a prime example of inbound marketing; it draws in new customers with interested, engaging content, rather than seeking them out and pushing advertisements on them.
Why has this shift taken place?
The rise of the internet and general shifts in societal attitudes have put the consumer more firmly in control. Intrusive advertising is seen as unacceptable, unsolicited calls go unanswered, and advertisements are widely ignored. Marketers needed a new way of doing things.
The benefits of inbound marketing for your business
One of the key ways inbound marketing can help your business is by boosting your authority and credibility. You’ll position yourself as an expert in your field, and your business will be the go-to provider in its own niche. By using social media and blogs, you can educate your prospects rather than targeting and selling to them. Your potential customers will find much more value in this method than the traditional advertising route.
Inbound marketing is also much more cost-effective than outbound advertising. These days, you can set up a blog and a range of social media channels for free, and as long as you’re producing and promoting great content, you’ll be creating a positive impression of your business and brand. Compare that to the costs of buying newspaper advertisements, hiring staff to cold call leads or sending out direct mailshots – it’s a no-brainer!
Inbound marketing also works wonders for SEO, which in turn can bring in more business. The more content you add to your site, optimised with the relevant keywords, the higher up the rankings you’ll climb. If you can leverage inbound marketing to reach the top spot on Google organically, you’ll notice increased traffic and more leads – it’s as simple as that.