Lets face it, marketing has changed. Everyday people see thousands of advertisements whether they are aware of it or not. Marketers are no longer focused on finding you. They want you to want them, they want you to need them, and they want you to find them. The intrusive traditional ways such as cold calling, print advertisements and trade shows, also known as outbound marketing are being replaced. Instead, marketers have made a transition towards inbound marketing, getting you to come to them.
According to Marketo, “at its core, inbound marketing is about creating interesting, informative, and even entertaining content and optimizing and distributing it across online channels so it can be found by – and hopefully engage – prospective buyers.”
How does inbound marketing work? Hubspot, a leading developer of inbound marketing tools, describes inbound marketing with four marketing actions:
- Attract – You need to attract the “ideal customer.” Getting the right traffic is important because your whole business is based around these customers. Important tools: blogging, social media, keywords, and webpage optimization
- Convert – This is where you turn your site visitors into potential leads. Obtaining contact information is crucial, so you need to offer them something of value, such as ebooks, whitepapers or tip sheets. Important tools: calls-to-action, landing pages, forms and contacts
- Close – Turn leads into customers. Giving each lead a personalized experience in their lifecycle stage is important. Keep track of which efforts brought the best leads. Important tools: lead scoring, email, marketing automation, closed-loop reporting
- Delight – It is important to maintain a relationship with customers even after they make a purchase. To do this you need to provide context – or engaging content to give them the inbound experience. Important tools: smart calls to action, social media, email and marketing automation
The last step of the four marketing actions is delight. Dharmesh Shah, the chief technology officer and co-founder of Hubspot stated in the “2013 Inbound Keynote,” that the most important goal is customer “delightion.” Strive to give an exceptional buying experience so the customer is more than delighted. This is bigger than customer lifetime value (CLV) because not only does it result with customer loyalty, but it turns the customer into an advocate. Shah stated “the most valuable customers are not those who buy the most, your most valuable customers are those who sell the most.” Customer advocates tell their friends, who tell their friends = free advertisement.
So what are some of the benefits of inbound marketing?
- Interactive communication
- Non-intrusive way of getting customers to come to you, therefore making your target market is more easily reached
- Provided value, entertaining and educating (potential) customers
- Content can be shared via blogs, third party sites and social media
- Cost effective (no costs for print or TV ads, internet is viral)
- Easy to track return on investment (ROI)
- No blocking techniques (do not call list, spam filters)
Touching back on Hubspot’s “2013 Inbound Keynote,” they introduced three new inbound marketing products.
- the Social Inbox
- the Content Optimization System
The Social Inbox
Browsing Twitter feeds for particular subjects is like searching for a needle in a haystack. But with the Social Inbox, Brian Halligan, CEO and co-founder of Hubspot says it’s “all needles, no hay.” The Social Inbox is a new way to personally organize content on social media such as Twitter. Not only does it allow you to filter through specific topics, but it also allows you to differentiate the users who are doing the talking.
How does it do this? Well first, you create a social media stream. You start a new stream, which is designed around three three simple questions
- Who do you want to listen to? e.g. leads, customers
- What do you want to listen for? e.g. keywords Hubstop & inbound marketing
- How do you want to be notified? e.g. email vs. app
This is beneficial because it let’s you get to know the customer on another level, allowing you to give them the best inbound experience possible. Regular websites, and social media can’t tell the difference in their visitors or the devices they are using to access them.
The Content Optimization System (COS)
This may sound familiar, but what you’re probably thinking is CMS (content management system). These are different! A typical CMS system in Halligan’s words “turns your brochure into a website or online presence.” In this case, when a visitor visits the page, they get experience A. When a lead visits the page, the get experience A. And when a customer visits the page, they get experience A. It provides the same experience to everyone.
The content optimization system on the other hand, tailors content to specific people. The goal is to give people the best experience possible by understanding their relationship and the device they are using. COS allows companies to provide custom home pages for visitors, leads and customers, and personalize it by adding different tags such as their name and company. This gives visitors experience A, leads with experience B, and customers with experience C. This adds to the inbound experience, and benefits your company.
Signals in a new innovative technology that works inside of other applications. It gives you real-time notifications, providing better communication with leads and customers. It is similar to the Facebook messaging feature where you can see if the recipient has read the message or not, combined with the subscribe feature of being notified when someone posts a new status.
With Signals, you can “watch” new leads on platforms such as their LinkedIn. You will be notified if any changes are made to their page, and if you send them a message, you can see if they have read it, or have clicked on any links. Sales people struggle with following-up with customers and potential clients. With Signals, there is no mistake of forgetting to follow-up and no need to spam, it makes communication more efficient and effective.
These products were very interesting to learn about, because they are very interactive, and almost invasive. The word invasive might be too strong of a word, but the amount of information that can be yielded off of Internet tracking is unbelievable. I thought the tools were very innovative, and spins off of existing technology used throughout social media (in some aspects), but it will be interesting to see how crucial they become for businesses.
To reiterate, inbound marketing “helps potential customers find your company – often before they are even looking to make a purchase – and then turns that early awareness into brand preference and, ultimately, into leads and revenue.” (Marketo)