Why Inbound Marketing?

The Transition from Traditional (Outbound) Marketing to Inbound Marketing

A smart business person knows return on investment is the judge of every marketing endeavor. More business owners today are making the shift to search and inbound marketing so they can make a larger return on their investment (ROI).

According to Forrester Research, marketers spent $26 billion last year in search and online marketing, which rivals all spending on cable and satellite TV and radio. And almost half of all marketers plan to increase online ad spending by decreasing spending in other channels.

It’s clear that business owners are seeking efficiency. They’re shifting their money out of expensive paid search advertising, and into search engine optimization (SEO), content and social media that help their businesses be found in organic search results.

Search engine marketing visually promotes websites on search engine results pages. Inbound marketing is marketing focused on getting found by customers. Inbound marketing tools include blogging, content publishing, SEO, social media and social networks.

In traditional marketing or outbound marketing, companies focus on finding customers by using  cold-calling, print advertising, TV advertising, junk mail, spam and trade shows. Inbound marketing contrasts with traditional outbound marketing, in which businesses push their messages at consumers.

Inbound Marketing Is More Cost Effective and Measurable

Instead of trying to grab the attention of potential customers with ads, inbound marketing campaigns create videos that customers want to see and blogs that people subscribe to and look forward to reading. They create useful content on their blogs and websites so that people call them looking for more information.

According to marketing data collected from 2,500 business customers and compiled by Hubspot in its “2010 State of Inbound Marketing” report, the cost per lead among companies using at least half of their budget for inbound marketing is 60 percent less or an average of $134 when compared to outbound marketing which averages $332 per lead.

Spending on outbound marketing techniques including radio, television and newspaper ads fell from 29 to 24 percent from 2009 to 2010 according to the same report. Not surprisingly, the majority of businesses surveyed by Hubspot reported increasing their 2010 inbound marketing budgets from their 2009 levels. Of those surveyed, 88 percent are either maintaining or increasing their inbound marketing budgets. According to the report, 92 percent of respondents said the economy and 58 percent listed past success with inbound marketing as their reasons to switch to inbound marketing strategies.

So, what are the parts of inbound marketing techniques that are leading to the most successful business campaigns?

Pillars of Inbound Marketing: SEO, Content and Social Media

The most successful inbound marketing campaigns have three key components: content, SEO and social media.

Content attracts potential customers to your site while SEO makes it easier for potential customers to find your content. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn serve to spread your content on networks of personal relationships, making it become more authentic and more likely to draw qualified customers to your site and ultimately producing more leads and sales.

There are now 18,000 Facebook business pages in the United States and over 90 percent have their website URL listed to attract more traffic to their site. Companies that blog have a reported 55 percent more website visitors than those that don’t maintain a blog. Companies that blog multiple times per day also have a close to 100 percent  rate of  acquiring customers from their blog while the most popular update frequency of weekly has a 58 percent customer acquisition rate.

According to Hubspot, 61 percent of the companies that responded to their requests for feedback reported they publish a company blog compared to the 48 percent that reported publishing a blog one year ago.

Even with these obvious successes, marketers will need to continue to improve how they use social media to engage and not just reach customers.

According to the July 2009 U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2009 to 2014 by Shar VanBoskirk. General Motors’ Chevrolet worked with MySpace.com to create a virtual tree widget that would “grow” when watered online through visits and downloads to promote its alternative fuel vehicles. After reaching a threshold of downloads from Chevy’s MySpace.com page, Chevy planted up to 225,000 real trees. This was a creative use of several channels. We can expect many new ways to apply social media to marketing will unfold between now and 2014.

Interactive marketing, according to the report, will near $55 billion and represent 21percent of all marketing spend in 2014 as marketers shift dollars away from traditional media and toward inbound marketing.

As reported, a total of 85 percent of online consumers search on their desktops at least weekly and 11 percent have searched via mobile phones in the past three months. This means that marketers who use the tools that are available to them through inbound marketing have more and more potential customers to attract. New search engines such as Searchme, have also expanded slots where advertisers can place keyword ads.

Superior Return on Marketing Investment

Companies are investing more money into search marketing is because it’s targeted, it’s measurable, and delivers a high ROI.

  1. Targeted: Every month, there are 14 billion online searches. Each industry has keywords that are searched on thousands of times. Top rankings in the search results will capture a massive demographic that is looking to buy specific products. Ninety percent of people click on the first page of the rankings, especially the top three results.
  2. Measurable: It’s difficult to track how billboards, print ads and TV commercials bring in customers and if sales are a direct result of traditional marketing campaigns. Whether it’s PPC, SEO, social media, or conversion rate optimization, through analytics, you can track how a particular campaign directly influences website traffic, leads, and sales. This information gives marketers an extra weapon to tweak their campaigns if needed, and to prove their success.
  3. ROI: Return on Investment might be the biggest reason marketers are turning their attention to search marketing. In its brief time of existence, search is quickly proving to deliver the largest ROI when compared to traditional. Good search marketing campaigns achieve a balance between SEO, PPC, social media, and conversion strategies that drive website traffic and turn that traffic into sales. When each of those strategies blends together perfectly, website revenue increases dramatically.

The marginal cost per customer acquisition is typically close to zero given the digital nature of inbound marketing. This means that the cost and lead for a given business will continue to decrease as buyers continue to shift how they make their purchases.

Are You Ready To Make The Transition To Inbound Marketing?

Last year, small businesses with up to 10 employees reported plans to spend 44 percent of their budgets on inbound marketing while medium and large businesses with 50 or more employees planned to spend 31 percent of their budget.

With the tools that have become mainstream over the last two to three years, the scale of any business can be unlimited. If you have a great product and the skills to communicate with your customers, you can compete with the biggest advertising budgets using search and inbound marketing.

Some businesses are moving faster than others to make the most of fast growing marketing techniques. Research shows that the businesses that move most aggressively will have the most to show for it in this new marketing era.

Source: State of Inbound Marketing Report – http://bit.ly/aewfHr

Source: State of the Facebook for Business Report – http://bit.ly/77kBIZ

Source: Forrester U.S> Interactive Marketing Forecast 2009 to 2014 – http://goo.gl/k69rD

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