Inbound Marketing

What is inbound marketing?

Traditional marketing has, up until the last decade or so, heavily relied upon outbound marketing to generate potential business. These activities include email, direct mail, TV and radio advertising as well as road-side advertising hoardings. Inbound marketing is more subtle, commonly using a combination of content marketing, SEO and social media. This is more akin to building brand awareness but relies upon marketers creating compelling content which is broadcast to an audience, in the social media with the expectation that it is shared and ‘liked’. Inbound marketing does not rely on a sales message and often doesn’t have an overt sales message at all.

How does inbound marketing generate sales?

For B2C companies, inbound marketing has now become an integral part of the marketing equation.

Brands promoting their products using Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels in combination with email and web engagement have driven significant sales. Often growing sales much faster than bricks and mortar retailing. But it’s the way that inbound marketing has induced buyers so much that makes interesting reading.

Whilst the brands are directly promoting through these channels there are also influencers, many of which are well known celebrities who are often paid by brands to subtly promote products. Others such as Huda Kattan in the beauty world and Chiara Ferragni in women’s fashion have millions of followers and engagement levels that far exceed many of the leading brands. Many “mini influencers” (those with hundreds of thousands of followers rather than millions) started off creating YouTube videos in their bedrooms but are now becoming career brand ambassadors.

These influencers can help propel sales in days as they “endorse” products and gently persuade their followers to use them.

So why are these influencers so influential?

Millennials and generation Z are more engaged with inbound marketing as they want to discover what’s fashionable for themselves rather than being dictated to by brands. There is also the FOMO (fear of missing out) effect which is a strong influence on younger audiences – something that plays strongly into the hands of independent influencers on YouTube.

How do B2B companies use inbound marketing?

For B2B companies the results are easy to see. Most of these types of companies use educational or thought-provoking articles to promote their business or even provocative content that gets them noticed in their target audience. Using Linkedin is a prime example of this where blog posts are liked and shared through unending channels that the marketer can only dream of.

Whist there is no return on investment on the broadcast itself, the increase in inbound activity to the website is clear. The hope is, is that all those inbound visitors take a look around the site after they have read the article and that stimulates engagement. With the right engagement tools, marketers can measure that activity and follow up at the appropriate time.

Content marketing and SEO are also big factors. Looking at what keywords or terms your potential customers are entering into search engines such as Google and providing quality, informative content that fulfil the users need is a good way to build trust in your brand/company and shows potential customers that you are an authority on your subject matter.

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