Every business I know is intimately familiar with outbound marketing, or pushing your message out to customers through email, newspaper, and television advertising. Only a few really understand the process and value of inbound marketing, for pulling customers to your brand. In my experience, it’s the fastest way to create trust and authenticity in this age of the consumer.
Inbound (pull) marketing is all about convincing potential customers that they found you and have a relationship with you, rather than being accosted by your message at every turn. It works best through effective use of social media, mobile apps, societal initiatives, becoming an influencer, and providing a modern easily-found web site with credible customer-focused content.
According to a new book, “Surfing the Black Wave: Brand Leadership in a Digital Age,” by Emmy Award winning advertising executive, Daniel Cobb, we are seeing the first of several waves of change in the new world of digital marketing, where consumers are in charge, and they are immune to most marketing influences, except the ones they initiate. It’s a tsunami of change.
In fact, brand leadership in this digital age is far more than just inbound marketing, but both Cobb and I believe it starts there, and sets the tone for the new way to structure your business and set your long-term strategy. Here is our list of key reasons to use inbound marketing as a focus for the next generation of your business and your customers:
- Modern customers trust only self-service marketing. Consumers are doing their own research and don’t want to engage a pushy salesperson or message. That means they want to do their own value comparisons, and ideally see confirmation from friends and other customers. Your challenge is to provide credible content, sources, and assistance.
- Optimize your content for search engines to get attention. According to recent reports, 93 percent of online experiences start with a search engine. If you have a consistent and valuable presence on your site and your social media channels, you have a better chance of a higher ranking on search engine result pages.
- Participate in the top social media sites for maximum impact. By producing great content for search engines, you also give your social media manager consistent, valuable social fodder. The top social media channels for participation these days include Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. Don’t just monitor – engage customers.
- Pull marketing is less expensive than push marketing. Pull marketing costs money, for content creation, website, and social media management. But these costs tend to be lower, start earlier, and can be spread evenly over time. They get conversations started, and initiate word-of-mouth referrals, which are the cheapest by far, and self-perpetuating.
- Pull marketing is more effective with consumers. Push marketing effectiveness has dropped sharply with the explosion of technology over the past decade. The problem is simply that consumers now demand to make their own choices, with interactivity and input from friends, about the type of data they receive. That trend is growing every day.
- Mobile devices and apps enhance social interactivity. As U.S. smartphone penetration now exceeds 80 percent, and mobile activity averages are approaching five hours per day, the advantages of inbound marketing continue to increase. If you are not yet using this channel natively, your brand will be lost from view to key constituents.
- Inbound marketing data is more easily measured for ROI. Inbound data, including site page visits, blog reads, and actual orders linked to content are much more relatable to return-on-investment than email blasts, sound-bites delivered, and TV show ratings. More and more automated tools and apps are being delivered to assist in this process.
In fact, I believe inbound marketing, along with social media marketing, are just two of many waves of innovation that we will soon see in this age of the consumer. Your challenge, if you want to be a leader in your business domain, is to stay alert and open to change, rather than a laggard in capitalizing on the next wave. Don’t wait for the tsunami of business change to wash over you.