There’s no longer any doubt that the Internet has changed people’s buying habits. Instead of relying on company sales reps for product information, buyers go online to search anything they need to know about a product or service before making a purchase. This new reality of how businesses connect with buyers requires a fundamental shift toward online, inbound marketing methods.
Traditional marketing tactics like print and broadcast advertising, trade shows and direct mail rely on the age-old adage of reach and frequency – repeating your message over and over again to as many people as possible. The assumption is that if your message hits enough people, some might be interested in your product and ready to buy, or at least will remember your brand when they are ready.
It's not about more people. It's about more buyers.
The trouble is, most of the traditional-media audience is not yet ready to buy, and in fact is not even a good prospect for your product, so the percentage of qualified prospects is very, very small. Therefore in order to reach enough qualified prospects and stay “top of mind” until they are ready to make a purchase, businesses need to continue to buy media time, attend trade shows and send direct mail, usually with little tangible measure of success. This gets expensive, especially when compared to the number of qualified leads traditional marketing produces.
The fact is, your marketing does not need to reach as many people as possible. It needs to reach as many buyers as possible.
Why shift to inbound marketing?
The difference may seem semantic, but the “spray and pray” approach to advertising via traditional means is becoming less and less reliable. Consumers are no longer defined by simple qualities like age, sex and geography. Instead, they are increasingly online, demanding that brands recognize them as individuals, and demonstrating at every touchpoint that they know who they are and what they want.
Businesses that adopt an inbound marketing strategy produce online content that is found by consumers during their product research, making these visitors far more qualified than someone whose day is interrupted by a print ad or radio spot.
Articles on a company blog, downloadable eBooks, instructional videos and webinars are just some of the types of content that attract qualified buyers to a business’s online presence. According to research from HubSpot in our eBook, “Marketing Benchmarks from 7000 Businesses,” B2B companies that blog only once or twice per month generate 70% more leads than those who don’t blog.
An inbound marketing strategy is designed to address a company’s unique and specific business goals by:
- Attracting visitors to their online presence with helpful content.
- Converting visitors into qualified business leads.
- Nurturing leads through their buying cycle with relevant and personal touchpoints, until they are ready to become a customer.
- Delighting customers with a continued, personalized online experience.
Using marketing automation software, all the necessary online components—keyword research, website and content management, social media and email—are integrated with an advanced contact database and analytics to display a unique, personalized online experience to each visitor.
Simply put, inbound marketing puts “big data” within reach. Because inbound tactics tap into the stream of consumers who use the Internet for their product research, it enables marketers to measure their online behavior and understand how their visits impact business. It’s all about connecting with customers when they’re ready.