Why is Inbound (Internet) Marketing Growing So Fast?
While the Dow is bouncing around 12,000 again, the U.S. government continues to spend much more than it has, the economy is still striggling, and many traditional sales departments are hurting.
But, our blog today is about something more positive — the fact that, just as we saw over fourteen years ago when there was a burst in the Internet bubble, financial pressure is forcing companies to become more efficient. And just like then, these changes are forcing new, more effective uses of the Internet.
When the last downturn began, Denver businesses started shifting some of their marketing dollars to “search engine marketing” (SEM) because it was more measurable and targeted than traditional advertising, so it appealed to marketers with tightening budgets.
Inbound Marketing Saves Money
As the flat economy continues, businesses continue to look for ways to improve their efficiency. Denver companies have been moving expense dollars out of the more-expensive paid search (pay-per-click, banner ads, etc.) area and into areas like search engine optimization, content creation and social media platforms that help them get found in the “organic” (natural) search engine results.
These changes are driving a new era of marketing on the web – the era of “Inbound Marketing”.
Okay, so what is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound Marketing is about using marketing activities that are focused on helping you get found on the web by your customers when they need you, rather than interrupting their day when they don’t.
In traditional marketing, companies focus on using “interruptive” tactics to get the attention of their targets. They use approaches that are poorly targeted and that, by definition, must interrupt their prospects to be effective. They use cold-calls, magazine ads, T.V., and direct mail.
While many of these techniques are still useful, they are getting more and more expensive and the returns are weakening.
For instance, Caller ID now helps to block unwanted cold calls, DVRs make T.V. advertising less effective, spam filters now block mass emails and tools like RSS feeds (Really Simple Syndication) are making print and display advertising less effective.
It’s still possible to get a message out via these channels, but it costs more and the results are not as strong.
Denver Inbound Marketers are turning outbound marketing on its head.
Instead of interrupting prospects with television ads, Inbound Marketers create videos on YouTube and link them to their company’s web page. Instead of using display ads in magazines, they create their own blogs that their clients and prospects willingly subscribe to. Instead of just cold calling, they create useful content and tools on their website and find that prospects are calling them.
Instead of pushing their message into the marketplace over and over again with a hammer, they attract customers like a magnet.
The most successful Inbound Marketing campaigns have three important components:
1. Quality Content – Great content is the best foundation of a successful Inbound Marketing campaign. It is useful content that attracts potential customers to your site and your business.
2. Search Engine Optimization – Effective SEO makes it easier for potential customers to find your website and your great content. It is the way all effective marketers build their sites. They use “on-page” and “off-page” best practices to maximize their search engines rankings.
3. Social Media – Social media increases the reach of your quality content. When your great content is shared across networks of personal relationships, it becomes more “credible” and is more likely to attract those targeted prospects to your site.
Why Inbound Marketing Makes Sense
Since our economy has been stuck in “molasses mode “for a while now, more-and-more Denver-based companies have been turning to Inbound Marketing tactics because it they are a more efficient way of using marketing resources. As a result, their marketing ROI has been improving.
There are three specific ways Inbound Marketing can benefit traditional marketing:
(1) Less Expensive – Traditional marketing generally requires a bigger budget. Either because you are purchasing ads, email lists or renting space at trade shows. Instead, Inbound Marketing is all about generating quality content on your website and blog and sharing it. A blog costs nothing but your time to start. A Twitter Facebook and LinkedIn are free, too. Each can draw hundreds of customers to your site.
(2) Better Targeting – Traditional approaches such as cold-calls, direct mail and email are usually less effective because marketers don’t take the time to effectively segment their lists. You’re reaching out to a mass of individuals because of one or two attributes in a database instead of fine tuning your persona. When you engage in Inbound Marketing, you only talk to people who have “self-qualified” themselves. These people have shown an interest in your offering, so they are much more likely to be interested in your service or product.
(3) The Value of Inbound Marketing Grows Over Time – In order to maintain your ranking at the top of Google’s pay-per-click results, you need to maintain that expense each month. If instead, you invest that money in quality content creation that ranks naturally in Google’s organic results; you’ll be in those more effective results.
Inbound Marketing is Empowering
Now, as we continue to work in a challenging economy, online marketers are using the tools of this new read-write internet to become more efficient. They’re using social media, they’re publishing content and they’re optimizing it. They’re becoming Inbound Marketers.
With the tools that have become mainstream over the last two to three years, the scale of any business can be unlimited. If you have a great product and the skills to communicate with your customers, you can compete with the biggest advertising budgets.
That is exciting, and for Denver’s small and medium businesses it’s empowering.
Need help in deciding how to take advantage of Inbound Marketing? Give us a call at (303) 357-5757 or contact us here.
Greg Sherwood is CEO of DBC Digital, a marketing agency based in Denver, Colorado. With over 30 years of marketing experience with traditional and inbound (internet) marketing, Greg helps mid-sized businesses get a better return on their marketing dollars.
You can reach Greg at (303) 357-5757 or at email@example.com