Over the last few years, modern inbound marketing has been progressing rapidly; it is currently a vast Internet industry spanning search, content, and social marketing, among others. This proliferation of the numerous marketing methodologies available undoubtedly attests to the efficiency of inbound versus traditional outbound marketing, but just what makes inbound the new black in marketing?
The key benefits that have made inbound the marketing mode of choice are:
It is aligned with current consumer Internet lifestyles
The activity that has come to be casually called “going online” is increasingly becoming an irrevocable part of the everyday lives of people everywhere. Indeed, most professionals are required to go online to check emails and other important, work-related tasks. The most significant trend, however, lies in how the Internet has become an ideal research and ecommerce platform for consumers. Not only are more and more people shopping online, but they also do online research for purchases they make in brick-and-mortar retailers.
Obviously, marketing efforts go where consumers are – and right now, the Internet is where they are. The Internet affords users an ecommerce, social networking, entertainment, and information central hub conveniently accessed literally with a few keystrokes and mouse clicks. Marketers and businesses who want to reach out to their target audience should align their inbound marketing efforts with this current prevalence of Internet lifestyles.
It leverages typical online browser behaviour
Almost every small to mid-sized start-up financial services business invests in inbound marketing efforts, and almost every established company has also developed their inbound platforms of marketing. This is not only because inbound is aligned with the consumer’s Internet lifestyle, it is also because it effectively leverages online browsing and consumer behaviour. In fact, search, content, and social media optimization—the foremost strategies employed in the inbound marketing —came about because of online behaviour.
Forrester Research predicts that by 2016, spending for interactive marketing (which includes inbound search and social media marketing) will reach 35% of total marketing spend. By that time, it will match current TV advertising efforts and expenditure. Content optimisation will continue to play a crucial role in bolstering company authoritativeness in the Web: a 2011 case study by Servio revealed that proper optimization – adding new, unique content and replacing old, duplicate content while minding ad-to-content ratios – can increase search rankings of web pages by as much as 30%.
Optimising content has evolved from merely a matter of proper keyword density and distribution to actually providing readers with high quality user engagement. Search engines are continuously improving the way they return search results – shifting the focus from just relevance to user experience. Search engines are catering to the demands of users online who want the best information delivered in the most efficient and enjoyable way. This means that to practice effective inbound marketing, content needs to be unique, engaging, and high-quality.
Optimising for keywords is still a sound practice, and uniqueness is now a very big factor instead of a nagging auxiliary prerequisite, owing to Google’s recent updates. But how well the content engages and informs its readers is the new metric by which content optimisation is measured.
Initial attempts to filter out relevant but low quality search results can be traced a few years back to a Google feature that monitors search results’ – bounce rates. If Google notices a certain domain has high bounce rates, it offers the user an option to permanently block said domain from registering in search results. Today, measuring quality extends to how authoritative an article in a website is, which means checking its structure, outbound links, and inbound back-links. Of course, there is also the measure of how many times an article has been “shared,” “liked,” “tweeted,” and so forth, care of social media sites. Social media is an increasingly important factor in inbound marketing.
“In fact, social media will enjoy a more enthusiastic 26% development rate compared to the development of search marketing spend at a sustained pace of 17% to 2016 (Forrester forecast).”
This pace at which social media is progressing is and will continue to be a definitive advantage in using inbound advertising efforts.
It capitalise on social media advances
How pervasive has social media and networking become? In the US, NM Incite found that social media sites like networking websites and blogs are where active Internet users spend an average of 22.5% of their time online. Such sites are the dominant online hangouts. A more interesting statistic is how as much as 70% of active social networking adults also engage in ecommerce, and are 12% more likely to spend and shop online than the average Internet user. Social media has become so influential that companies can harness its potential to build a loyal consumer base – 32% of active social media users follow brands (53% follow celebrities, which makes sponsoring famous celebrities an effective marketing tactic).
That isn’t the end of it either: 40% of social media users access their networking profiles through mobile devices, increasing mobile social media engagement. Regardless of the device used, social media has become an ecosystem within the larger Internet community that influences almost everything the typical Netizen reads, interacts with, or does in the Web. For marketers and companies though, a more significant development has spawned from the social media trend: social intelligence.
Through intelligence gathered through social media, advertisers and companies alike can analyse and predict consumer behaviour better, tweaking their campaigns and products to better appeal to their target demographic.
In bound marketing: pushing push marketing into yesterday’s news
Outbound and push marketing efforts, though far from obsolete, have quite a few disadvantages compared to inbound efforts. Social marketing is a prime example. Not only is it more affordable, but it can also gather lead and demographic info like outbound efforts, while steering clear of advertising pitfalls that render outbound marketing ineffective.
Inbound marketing is the new key to marketing success – and its here to stay.
Guest contributor: Paul G Armour is the founder and owner of theSaleMaker , an Inbound Marketing Boutique specialising in Internet Marketing delivered through the innovative SaleMaker360 Inbound Marketing Platform. Paul focuses on delivering fresh, creative, high impact digital marketing campaigns that are designed to attract more site visitors and drive greater responses and conversions.