Getting them to come to you: Inbound Marketing

I have been searching for an entry-level marketing position recently, and almost every position wants the applicant to have strong writing skills, and the ability to contribute to the company blog. This is one example of inbound marketing- creating content to attract consumers to a website. Marketo defined inbound marketing this way: “the process of helping potential customers find your company – often before they are even looking to make a purchase – and then turning that early awareness into brand preference and, ultimately, into leads and revenue.” It’s the interruption-free way to get a potential customer’s attention.

Blogging is one example of inbound marketing: creating content that catches the attention of customers, and brings them in to the website. This can be accomplished by using social media marketing, creating YouTube videos, pod-casting, newsletters, and beyond. Content from your website makes your website easier to find, and it will draw interested consumers to you.  The best part? Inbound marketing is less expensive than traditional outbound marketing is. That being said, according to an ebook by Marketo (a revenue performance company that studies the correlation between sales and marketing), a company’s marketing mix should be well balanced between inbound and outbound marketing. The more marketing tactics employed, the farther along you are to creating a successful marketing mix.

Outbound marketing examples include cold calling, direct mail advertisements, television ads, banners on websites, and many more. Outbound marketing is seen as intrusive to the consumer, and many consumers to avoid it by muting the television, ignoring phone numbers they do not recognize, and putting up a cold front to advertisements they see daily. It is a common practice there days to put your phone number on a “Do Not Call” registry to avoid telemarketers! As ineffective as outbound marketing can be describe, I believe it is still a key component to a successful marketing mix and inbound marketing. For inbound marketing to be successful, outbound marketing should be employed as well to ensure that the content you create for inbound marketing is seen. Without outbound marketing, there is a chance that nobody will ever hear about your company or website. It is important to have a marketing mix that incorporates diverse strategies in order to catch the attention of as many interested consumers as possible.

Marketo, a reveue performance managment company, who published an ebook as part of their inbound marketing strategy. Now that I’ve heard of Marketo, and read some of their material and used it in this blog, I might be more willing to use their service (sales and marketing evaluation / management) over one of their competitors. They have helped me by providing content that I found interesting, and that makes me more willing to hire them to provide a service (though I don’t think I will have a need for sales and marketing evaluation yet!).

Inbound marketing requires three things in order to be successful: “the ability to create compelling content that will attract customers to the business, the ability to distribute that content so that it is easily found by perspective customers using search engines, and the ability to attract and engage a community of followers who interacted with the content” (Harvard case). If the business lacks one of these three things, the inbound marketing tactics will not be successful, and waste company resources. Ensure you fulfill these three components when you are creating your inbound marketing strategy.

Hubspot is an inbound marketing company that coined the term Inbound Marketing, and revolved their business around helping other companies employ non-disruptive marketing techniques. The HubSpot case from 2011 defines inbound marketing as, “a collection of marketing strategies and techniques focused on pulling relevant prospects and customers towards a business and its products.” HubSpot technology helps small business owners, and professional marketers (Hubspot’s primary customers) if they were willing to put the work in. If the customers do not put work in, or they do not think they need to, they will not be able to see results. Those who were dedicated to using the HubSpot software were able to see jumps in the number of leads they had after 6 months of using the software.

Hubspot is in a tough place as a business. Since they are an Inbound Marketing company, who wants to provide software to help other companies use this tactic, they can not use outbound marketing to find new clients. For example, one YouTube video they created described how cold calling was for losers, so of course, it would hurt their company image if they turned around and started using techniques they publicly trashed. When you read a blog on their site, or sign up for their certification, they might ask you for some information. If you provide your phone number, they might call you and tell you a little about the services they offer. This is called warm-calling, and since the consumer already showed interest in the product, and provided their phone number, HubSpot will take advantage of the lead.

Over the summer, I worked for a small airline called Kenmore Air. Kenmore Air flies seaplanes from Seattle to many destinations in Washington State and British Columbia such as The San Juan Islands, Nanimo, and many fishing resorts along Vancouver Island’s inner passage.  Kenmore Air exemplifies successful inbound marketing with their successful blog, Facebook account, and Instagram account. The company uses inbound marketing as part of their marketing mix to encourage past fliers to travel with them again by posting blog entries a few times a week about different events happening in the places they fly to. By posting blog entries, customers are drawn to Kenmore Air’s website and might feel more inclined to try their service. In addition to blogging, Kenmore Air also frequently posts status updates and photos to their social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. When the company had a sale for discounted fares, they advertised about those fares on their blog, and on their social media platforms, and the sale was very successful.

Kenmore Air’s de Havilland Beaver seaplanes lined up.

Before implementing inbound marketing, it is important to plan out your marketing campaign to increase effectiveness, and to determine which inbound marketing channels will best fit your objective. First, identify the audience you are targeting. Know the demographics, objective of those people, and how those people perceive your company already. Once the audience is identified, set a goal for your inbound marketing project. Make your goal something that is  specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART).

Good example: “the goal is to get 1,000 new followers by the end of three months!

Bad example: “The goal is to get more followers!

Making your goal SMART will help the campaign in the long run succeed by making the objective clear to all members working on the campaign.

The next step, is to help consumers find your content by choosing relevant keywords, and optimizing search so that consumers will be able to find the site. Then, create a tracking URL, develop the offer, and create the landing pages.Finally, choose specific promotion channels to get the word out about your campaign. Social media, email, blog postings, or maybe paid search on other channels. The world is at your finger tips. Nurture the leads you find to keep them interested, and finally, report on your results. Google Analytics is a great tool for this, or HubSpot.

Additional Sources: A practical Guide to Planning a Successful Inbound Marketing Campaign

Harvard Business School case on HubSpot

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