What Is Inbound Marketing And Why Is It Important For Online Businesses In 2016?

Inbound marketing can be considered an inverse of traditional advertising. Conventional advertising is “push marketing”. This means that the advertisers are pushing their message at consumers and hoping for engagement. Television commercials, print media, radio ads and billboards are all examples of push marketing. While this methodology can communicate the advertising message to a large amount of people, it has a number of disadvantages as well.

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Traditional marketing is intrusive.

Advertising relies on engaging the consumer so that they will buy the product or service being offered. Goodwill is important because a consumer is not likely to buy from a company that frustrates them. This is a problem with traditional marketing because the advertising strategy is constantly interrupting the consumer. Commercials interrupt television shows, and print ads interrupt the flow of an article. Aggravating the consumer will not encourage engagement.

Consumers can ignore traditional ads.

Technology offers consumers the ability to avoid most push marketing by contributing to ad blindness. DVRs allow television viewers to skip commercials. Ad blocking browser extensions hide ads on webpages and eliminate Youtube pre-roll ads. Premium music services like Spotify and Tidal are taking consumers away from radio, reducing the effectiveness of radio advertising. It is not possible to acquire a return on investment (ROI) from advertising that consumers aren’t engaging with.

Push marketing is expensive.

Buying enough media space to effectively deliver an advertising message can be very costly. A 30 second TV spot that airs once on a single channel will not be sufficient. To resonate with a large number of consumers, the spot will have to run multiple times on multiple channels, and the costs will add up quickly. Additionally, television spots cost money to produce. This is true for other media buys as well. Radio spots and print ads are less expensive to produce and to distribute, but are still a considerable expenditure for a questionable ROI.

Inferior targeting methods.

Traditional advertising can be targeted to viewers to some extent, but it is not very precise. There is demographic and psychographic information available about what types of people watch a particular program, or read a particular newspaper or magazine, but it does not get much more specific than that. Furthermore, it is difficult to measure which ads are effectively converting consumers.

While there are those that claim that traditional marketing is obsolete, others would argue that it can still be relevant. However, relying entirely on push marketing is no longer sufficient, particularly for online businesses. Inbound marketing is a dynamic advertising strategy that is current, relevant, cost-efficient and effective. An inbound marketing approach is an optimal strategy for online businesses in 2016.

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is an advertising and marketing strategy that begins with the consumer. Rather than an advertiser pushing a message at the target, the consumer starts the process by looking for products, services, or information online.

Inbound advertising can be considered a “pull” strategy.

Instead of creating ads for a business, the advertiser will instead create content–a blog for example–targeted to the ideal consumer. If the website has implemented a strong SEO and PPC strategy, consumers searching for information about the particular product or service will be “pulled” to the site. The benefit of this is that it’s not just website traffic, but qualified website traffic. The consumer is already interested in the business and what it offers. Leveraging an inbound marketing strategy presents a number of advantages to an online business.

Cost efficiency.

Inbound marketing is very cost-effective, costing 62% less than traditional advertising. Additionally, pull marketing generates 54% more leads than paid advertising. These leads are more likely to convert because the consumer has already engaged with the business by seeking it out.

Inbound marketing is highly measurable.

Leveraging a tool like Google Analytics will provide a business with the metrics necessary to measure the effectiveness of its inbound marketing strategy. Analytics can be used to measure page views, shares, conversion rates–newsletter subscriptions or consultation requests for example–and sales. Monitoring these numbers is beneficial as companies can interpret this data to identify challenges and opportunities to further improve engagement.

Increase brand awareness and online visibility.

With the inbound marketing approach, an advertiser will create content that is targeted to their audience. Ideally, this content will be educational, compelling, or entertaining to the target. When the consumer is in the consideration stage of the buyer’s journey, they will begin to research products and services online.

By publishing content that is optimized to the target audience, the business increases its visibility in an online search. Thus, the consumer will be pulled to the site because the content is relevant to them. Additionally, consumers that truly engage with this content are much more likely to share it on social media. This improves brand awareness even further.

Improve consumer trust.

As described above, traditional marketing is intrusive, which is frustrating to many consumers. A business can develop a good relationship with a consumer by providing content that the consumer wants, when they want it.

To the target, this is perceived as “this business is trying to help me”, rather than “this business wants my money”. Developing trust with customers will increase sales and improve loyalty.

Produce qualified leads rather than simply increasing traffic.

Many businesses consider an increase in website traffic to be the main consideration in growing the business. While increased traffic is positive, it means very little if the visitors are not likely to convert or purchase. Inbound marketing produces qualified and quality leads by engaging with consumers that seek out the product or service themselves with the intent of gathering information or buying.

Integrate an inbound marketing approach in 2016.

Inbound marketing is an effective and dynamic strategy that can be leveraged by online businesses to increase qualified traffic, improves sales, and develop consumer trust.