Inbound Marketing Is A Clever Way Of Growing Your Business

These days, a new technique is revolutionizing how businesses market their products. It is known as Inbound Marketing.

Today, let us talk about what Inbound Marketing is, how it is changing the face of traditional or outbound marketing, and why you should be interested about it.

Traditional or Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing or traditional marketing is a way in which companies go out and find customers. It is a push strategy. Outbound marketers mainly adopt two strategies:

  • They put out advertisements in television, billboards, print media, etc. for people to see.
  • They also actively reach out to people by making cold calls, sending direct mails, etc. These are techniques which are interruptive in nature.

Not everyone likes interruption

Remember how you have received calls from marketers while you were attending that urgent meeting, or that ad that came on TV just before the climax of the movie was about to start? What was your reaction to these interruptions?

I remember having blacklisted a financial services company because a sneaky cold caller from its office called me thrice in a single day, and finally got very upset because I couldn’t talk to her as I was on a business tour!

Needless to say, only a handful of those who receive these calls or see the ads actually remember the product and buy it. Outbound marketing relies on purchases made by a small percentage of people who see the ads, or receive such calls. This results in wastage of the money spent in reaching out to people who are not interested.

Another problem is that, with the advancement of technology users are now able to block these marketing messages easily. Most of the direct mass emails land up in the junk mail folder. There are reports that people have also developed a blindness towards most of the ads that are shown on television. And let’s not forget how people get irritated with cold calls made to them. As you can see, the outbound method of marketing is losing its sheen rapidly.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing on the other hand, is not an interruptive strategy at all. It adopts a Pull Strategy, wherein instead of reaching out to your customers, you attract them to yourself.

Its foundation lies in adding value to the users instead of bombarding them with marketing messages. This value is provided in the form of useful content which helps the users in one or more ways. Many users go online looking for a solution to a problem that they are having. Inbound relies on solving their problems or giving them valuable information first, and building up engagement with them afterwards.

When users get benefited by what you have to say, they try to hear from you more often. Over time they start trusting you and would also be interested in using the product or service that you have to offer. When people come to you looking for solutions, it is far easier to delight them, and increase your sales eventually.

Thus, unlike in outbound marketing, where the communication with the customer starts with trying to sell something to them, in inbound sales is something that comes later, only after the user has become comfortable, and has started trusting your business.

The inbound marketing process

  • It starts with attracting visitors to your website
  • Next, you convert these visitors into leads
  • Close the leads to make them buy your offerings
  • Thereafter, you engage with them a lot more and continue to delight them. This will keep them loyal to you, and will also become your brand ambassadors by telling others about you. This increases repeat sales and cross sells. Eventually the need for prospecting for new customers will decrease over time.

The techniques used in Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing is a strategy which is created by combining the best of the digital marketing techniques. The exact techniques that are used in this strategy depends on the type of the business, its goals, and the customers that it wants to cater to. The following are the digital marketing techniques that are used to create and Inbound Marketing strategy:

  • Content marketing: This is the core of inbound. The business needs to create great content which will attract the users. When the users read content that is valuable to them, they would visit the website of the business in search for more information. The business has to continue to give valuable information to customers regularly.
  • Search Engine Optimization: The website needs to be optimized for visits by the users. Various search engine optimization techniques are applied to make sure that they get the best experience by visiting the website of the business.
  • Social Media marketing: A strong presence in relevant social media channels has to be built-in order to engage with the users. Apart from the website, the business will provide information through social media also. It also has to listen to what the users are saying, receive feedbacks, and offer solutions to users’ problems. Social Media is also a great way of understanding their needs and expectations of from the business.
  • Email marketing: The business needs to keep in touch with customers by sending emails to them. Not only is this a great way of building engagement with prospective customers, but it also is a very effective tool for customer retention. Inbound however, depends on permission-based emails which users have consented to receive. Unlike in outbound marketing, Mass Mailers are never sent out to any customers in inbound.

All these strategies are combined to form an effective strategy that completely changes the way the business markets its products. Inbound can also result in significant cost savings when done correctly. However, the results from Inbound Marketing take some time to show up. Businesses have to consistently do it over a period of time before reaping the benefits. However, once the transition is complete, the benefits keep flowing in.

Retargeting – The Secret to Expansive Market Reach

The marketing landscape is forever changing and everyday there is a new technique or tactic that you read about as the ‘it’ thing to do. Although this is not new, one marketing strategy business should definitely take a good look at is retargeting.

Retargeting campaigns are highly-focused and cost-effective marketing efforts that can help your business persuade interested customers to buy your products or services, as well as continually expand your market reach.

There are many reasons why prospective customers who check your products and services leave your website before making a purchase, including indecision, the desire to compare you to competitors, real life distractions such as phone calls or knocks on the door, wallet inconveniences, such as not finding their credit cards, and a thousand other reasons. Retargeting is the solution to all of these. It’s such an effective strategy that 88% of brands are already using site and search retargeting, according to the Chango State of the Industry report. Not using retargeting is a sure way to lose customers and suffer from online marketing conversion rates that are lower than average.

How Retargeting Works

The mechanism behind retargeting is straightforward and very effective: a bit of code placed on your website creates a cookie in the browser of your prospective customer, adding him or her to your retargeting list. After they leave your website, you can remind them about the product or service they viewed or about other similar offerings by retargeting them, that is, sending them ads that display while they browse the web. Retargeting creates the impression that your ads are everywhere, but that is of course not quite true — your ads display only to those people in your retargeting list.

Many marketers use Google AdWords’ retargeting tool for websites, which is a great starting point. In addition, social media giants Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have their own retargeting tools, and there are plenty of advanced third party solutions, including Perfect Audience and AdRoll, which supports Apple iAds.

Retargeting Provides Great Value

Another reason for you to use retargeting is that it is a cost-effective marketing strategy in the long-term. Focusing specifically on visitors who have checked your products or services, it enables you to market your brand to an audience that is interested in what you have to offer. Of all forms of online marketing and advertising, retargeting offers the best value for every dollar spent. By being so targeted, it provides an expansive market reach at costs that are far below those of other online marketing strategies, and offers superior results to most types of ads.

Other Benefits of Retargeting

Apart from offering you a second, a third, a fourth, etc. chance to convert a visitor into a customer, retargeting enables you to capture valuable user data in a natural way, without having to invest in data mining or research. If your website receives a steady stream of visitors, placing a retargeting code on your landing page gives you the opportunity to build over time an audience within your wider audience that is a highly relevant retargeting list comprising of visitors who have shown interest in your brand, products, and services.

Used in this way, retargeting becomes a multi-purpose marketing strategy that not only increases conversion rates, but enables you to build a customer list to which you can later send personalized offers and ads. Without retargeting, building such a customer list would entail in-depth research and considerable costs, not to mention that it would take time.

Retargeting Works Across Industries

Another benefit of retargeting is that it is a highly versatile strategy that works for any business in any industry. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling pizza, search engine optimization services, luxury watches, trips to exotic destinations, or website design services — retargeting is a dependable strategy that you can use to complement all your other marketing efforts. It goes great with organic SEO marketing, paid advertising, social media marketing, or content marketing. All the traffic that these strategies bring you can be used by a retargeting campaign to increase the efficiency of your marketing efforts.

Finally, it’s important to highlight that just because you don’t have an IT team doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of retargeting. According to the same study cited above, 47% of brands outsource their retargeting efforts. Whether it’s in-house or outsource, retargeting should definitely be one of the priorities of your marketing campaign.

Choosing Hybrids As a Solutions for Social Media Marketing

Hybrid marketing has only recently made its way to the forefront of social media marketing campaigns. It is a fairly new term that describes a collection of marketing models. Hybrid marketing is used as a way to combine traditional models of proven media, including print and television advertisements, along with social media marketing methods.

The advantages of traditional media marketing, are that most of us are more familiar with it. This type of marketing strategy generally includes a variety of media, including radio and television commercials, as well as, printed advertisements in magazines and newspapers. Even billboards and other street signs can be incorporated when describing traditional marketing strategies. It is still highly active in the promotional world, however, many companies are quickly discovering that their customers tend to spend less time in direct contact with traditional strategies, and are now converting to social media.

Only with the introduction of the Internet has digital media marketing started to fully materialize. It is this type of marketing strategy that is found on banner ads, personal webpages, and company websites. It usually provides the basic user information without much communication from possible customers. It is to the degree, that this type of digital media marketing is only a one-way opportunity for distributing the message that illustrates promotions much like traditional marketing. It only uses a different delivery system, but it is essentially transmitting the same message.The online user is seeing the advertisement on the computer screen, rather than viewing it on TV.

With the new age of social media marketing, likely customers are really seeing the progress of digital media marketing. It is actually the combination of traditional marketing with new digital media, however, it supports two-way communication. Instead of just pushing the message to the possible customer regarding services or products, social media marketing strategies entice the possible customer to become interested by communicating with the company online. This is used as a productive tool, where the possible customer can collaborate one-on-one with the company, and leave feedback, reviews, and comments about products they have used or would like to use.

Hybrid marketing, as its name suggests, is nothing more than a combination of all three elements of marketing strategies. It takes traditional marketing, and combines together with digital marketing while using the two-way communications opportunities of social media marketing.

An effective hybrid marketing campaign never depends on one single advertisement like those found on radio, print and television advertisements. It finds unique and various ways to deliver a collection of messages all focused on the same products and services.

Hybrid marketing is so extremely powerful because of its two-way communication. It enables greater input directly from the possible and current customers, and can be used to deliver exact messages to direct targeted audiences and demographics. Due to the fact that the Internet continues to develop, social media marketing tools have found a concrete place by generating greater income for companies, through two-way communication with their possible and current customers.

Developing A New Nonprofit Marketing Communications Plan

With another unsettling economic year on top of us, it’s time again to begin developing or refining a new marketing and marketing communications strategy, budget and plan. If you’re fortunate enough to have achieved a good ROI from your current program, along with the data to substantiate the reasons, you’re in better shape than most.

For example, in the for profit arena, only eight percent of Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s) say they can determine the ROI of their social media efforts. And 93 percent of CMO’s say they’re under more pressure to deliver significant ROI.

A Changing Nonprofit Marketing Landscape

The Giving USA Annual Report presented the nonprofit community with some good news – giving increased by 7.1 percent in 2014 versus 2013 to $359 billion. Individuals again accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total, with foundations a distant second, at 15 percent.

And, interestingly, while arts/culture/humanities increased by 9.2 percent, and the environment/animals by 7 percent, international affairs declined by 2 percent for the third year in a row.

As individuals are leading this growth, the obvious question becomes how to continue this trend? Consumer demographics, income, expanded consumer promotion and politics will impact many marketing communications programs next year. Consider the following:

  • The two largest age groups, Millennials and Boomers, are very different. Millennials are cash strapped, unimpressed with brand names, and socially conscious; Boomers, on the other hand, are brand loyal and projected to account for about 70 percent of U.S. disposable income in 2017 (Quirk’s Market Research).
  • Asians and Hispanics will continue to become even larger and more potent portions of the US population. Many will be courted by nonprofits for the first time, representing a brand new audience (US Census Bureau, 2014 National Projections).
  • Median household income actually declined 8.7 percent between 1999 and 2013 to $51,939 (Census Bureau Current Population Survey). And, while many people care deeply about certain causes, how to dispose of those hard earned disposable dollars rules many spending and giving decisions.
  • At the same time, these consumers are being bombarded with the largest major media and marketing services expenditures in history — $406 billion is expected in 2015. That’s a staggering $1,262 per person (Zenith Optimedia)! Beyond the dollars, that’s a lot of clutter and competition.

The road ahead will be very different than previous years. And, with the onslaught of political advertising driving up prices and reducing media inventory, even greater emphasis must be placed on developing smarter marketing communications plans to deliver improved ROI.

Marketing Tactics To Consider Before Finalizing Your Plan

There are a number of important tactics that can be used to improve ROI as well as brand presence. I’ll focus on four:

  1. Like most managers, you probably think you understand what’s important to your donors, prospective donors, staff, volunteers and even your Board. But, do you really know what they believe about the organization? And, do they in turn understand your mission, or has “mission creep” expanded your core identity? Further, do they see their time and financial commitment rewarding and making a difference? That means employing market research to learn what’s really important and providing focus before committing to a marketing communications plan. It’s prudent, and fact trumps opinion.
  2. Consider conducting a marketing communications audit to determine when, where and how to invest your time and money. An audit will provide an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of your existing program as a whole, as well as how each individual tactic does or does not meet your objectives. With this information, all of the elements of your program – subject matter, budget allocation, media mix, theming, graphics, tone and manner, new versus traditional media – can all be integrated into a holistic marketing communications program well before committing to the unknown. Look before you leap.
  3. Be sure you’re media neutral. Traditional media such as print, broadcast, direct mail, newsletter, events and public relations still remain important media tools. But, today, so do blogs, social media, online videos, webinars and more. All have value, but learning how to use them is vital. There must be an understanding of the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.
  4. Your anniversary, whether it’s your 5th, 33rd or 50th provides a unique opportunity to rekindle enthusiasm, and to galvanize all of your constituents to the relevant, important and needs of the organization. It gives you the chance to tell your story, not just your history but also your plans and goals for the future. Unify and focus everyone around a 12 – 18 month program to establish your vision.

Marketing Communications Consultants Or Internal Staff

If you’re like most nonprofit leaders, the majority of your time, talent and training is devoted to your passion for the programs and services you provide. The same is probably true of your most committed volunteers, staff and Board members.

Given that, does your organization have the marketing and marketing communications talent and background to develop the strategies, budgets, plans and tactics that are necessary to help you succeed in today’s environment?

If not, consider partnering with established, media neutral, senior level professionals to help your team formulate, refine and, if necessary, implement your programs. Look for people with experience in both nonprofit and for profit arenas, with extensive experience across brands and industries, as well as a willingness to “tell it like it is”, so that candor will flourish.

Most probably, the near future will present nonprofit marketers with a rocky road to travel. Hopefully, some of these thoughts will help, but also remember what Mark Twain said – “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”.