These days, it’s clear that the focus of the business world is on the Internet. The web is where people go to interact with others, and it’s also the place where people perform an increasing number of financial transactions. It’s also a platform that provides an excellent means of conveying and obtaining various pieces of information. If you are transitioning to a web-based business model for your organization, or if you are simply interested in engaging in web marketing to earn some extra money for yourself as an individual, you need to understand a few basic concepts. Most importantly, you have to learn about inbound marketing. If you’re asking yourself, “what is inbound marketing?” you might be frustrated by the lack of resources available for newcomers and novices. We’ve covered Internet marketing at length in our blog, but this post is designed for those of you who might be new to some of the concepts that are vital to understand in this exciting industry. What is inbound marketing and why do you need it? Read on for a no-nonsense explanation that will help you take your first marketing steps successfully.
What is Inbound Marketing? – A Definition
Basically, the end goal of any inbound marketing campaign is to get your business or organization found online. The point of a successful inbound marketing effort is to attract visitors to websites and landing pages so that they can enter marketing funnels, which will eventually result in consumers making purchases. There are many ways in which you can advertise through inbound marketing, but the most common forms tend to be:
- Social media marketing
If you’re like me and countless others in modern society, you probably spend quite a bit of your time online looking at blog articles, watching videos, paying attention to social media and researching products and services. Even if you aren’t aware of it, you are being nudged in the direction of an inbound marketing funnel every time you engage with one of these online entities. In fact, you’ve probably purchased products as a result of successful inbound marketing efforts. Unless you’re made of stone, there is little doubt that you’ve made a purchase at one time or another as a result of reading a compelling blog post or watching an effective video.
The Inbound Marketing Funnel
I’ve mentioned the concept of an inbound marketing “funnel” a couple of times already, but you might not understand what this particular concept refers to. Essentially, inbound marketing is a process that entails multiple steps before a consumer makes a purchase. These steps, when put together, comprise what is known as the funnel. It’s called a funnel because an inbound marketing campaign is designed to attract a large number of people from a variety of locations so that they can be led to a narrow, focused action such as purchasing a product like an eBook or a subscription to a specific service. As consumers complete each step, the funnel gets narrower and narrower until it has directed the consumers to the point of purchase.
In order to convince consumers to travel further down the funnel, companies do several things to attract potential buyers. In many cases, organizations will offer free resources like eBooks or instructional videos in exchange for personal information like names and email addresses. As consumers supply this information, companies can use it to focus their efforts on moving potential buyers further down the funnel. Not all consumers will make it to the end of the funnel, which is why so much time, energy and effort is spent by companies to enhance their inbound marketing campaigns.
Inbound Marketing Versus Outbound Marketing
If you’re still feeling a bit fuzzy about the concept of inbound marketing, it might be helpful to contrast it with outbound marketing. When you think of marketing, it’s likely that the concepts you envision are related to outbound marketing techniques. Some of the more familiar and traditional techniques include:
- Establishing a presence at trade shows
- Conducting seminars and other types of “outreach”
- Blasting emails to recipients from purchased lists
- Cold calling and other forms of telemarketing
- Traditional advertising (billboards, radio spots, TV ads, etc.)
These marketing methods are focused on actively engaging the attention of potential customers, whereas inbound marketing methods are focused on letting consumers “find” a particular brand or product. Since people are becoming increasingly inundated with emails, messages and other forms of outbound marketing, it is becoming much less effective when it comes to driving results and encouraging people to enter the marketing funnel.
Inbound marketing works better in today’s world because it is much more subtle, and it allows the consumer to make his or her own decisions without the pressures associated with traditional marketing techniques. What’s more, people are savvier today than ever before when it comes to tuning out obvious marketing messages, plus there are multiple tools and applications available that block such advertisements before they even have a chance to reach any eyes or ears.
The Right Kind of Marketing for Today’s Business World
Now that you know the answer to the question, “what is inbound marketing?” you should have a better understanding of how you should move forward with your modern business. Inbound marketing is actually quite simple to understand, but it can certainly be confusing, especially if you’re accustomed to traditional, outbound marketing techniques. Thankfully, you can simply think of inbound marketing as a way to let potential customers find you, and you will be able to imbue your efforts with the energy and techniques that make the best marketing campaigns of the modern age so successful.
Are you new to inbound marketing? What are some of the differences that you have found between inbound marketing and outbound marketing? Let us know by dropping us a line or leaving a comment below.