If you search for, “What is inbound marketing,” you are likely to get a plethora of answers and might walk away even more confused than when you started your search. However, that terminology seems to be the latest marketing buzz that you should understand as a marketer. The reality is it will have similar importance towards your marketing efforts that the terms “integrated marketing,” “ROI marketing,” and “digital marketing” have had over the last few years. Our team at SageMG has come up with a very easy analogy to answer the question. To understand the analogy it is best to understand its opposite.
The opposite of inbound marketing would be outbound marketing. Or, what we like to call traditional marketing. The tactics used here are items that we are keenly aware of: cold calling, emails, direct mail, advertising and even single-shot online marketing tactics like search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM). The idea is simple. Send a message out, put a means to contact you, and hope the customer responds. However, that approach leaves way too much unknown in your potential customer’s decision-making process. Will they contact you? When will they contact you? Will they get the answers they need when they contact you?
The analogy here is your business is boat full of life preservers. Each preserver represents a marketing tactic. As your customers are at sea, you throw the preservers out hoping a potential customer grabs on and realizes it came from your boat and not your competitor’s boat.
Inbound marketing starts with sending out messages too. These messages can be emails, blogs, social media content, or even a traditional tactic like a direct mail or trade show attendance. However, where inbound marketing differs is that each piece of content has related content behind it for the potential customer to better understand your product or service.
So, gone are the days of sending an email and hoping they follow up. Now, that email has a decision tree behind it. If the customer opens it, they may get a case study. If that customer forwards it, they may get an infographic. If they save the email, they may get a follow-up email. Imagine this decision tree with multiple pieces of content to pull the customer back to you. The customer is now more informed, further in the buying process, and more ready to buy. It’s what we like to call: Better Leads, Faster.
The analogy here is still the life preserver being tossed out. But, imagine there is a rope attached to that life preserver. Imagine there are many ropes tied together and each rope is its own piece of content. And, that each piece of content (rope) acts as a conversion path back to your boat. Your potential customer now has nowhere to go but back to your boat, more informed and more ready to buy. Now that’s inbound marketing!
Our team has created a handy Traditional Outbound Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing infographic to help you visualize this process so you can stop asking, “What is inbound marketing” and start saying “How can I put inbound marketing into action?”
The unrelenting determination and effort to create sweet projects that make our clients so happy they want to cry.