What Is Inbound Marketing?
You’ve just heard someone refer to “inbound marketing” and although the theory and practice seem logical, you can’t help but feel this is something you should have already figured out. If this sounds familiar, this blog is for you.
We know traditional marketing is no longer as effective as it was, consumers have gotten good at filtering out “interruption advertising”. TV ads are largely skipped over, ad-blockers are on the rise and print advertising is often ignored, not to mention the decline in circulation figures. Smart marketers understand that attention is shifting, and there’s a need to develop better forms of communication in the places where their audience’s attention has shifted to.
Inbound marketing is the process of crafting and curating relevant and valuable content for your customers and prospects so that you deliver value to them first, with the intention of eventually gaining permission to sell. Instead of going straight for the sales pitch, the goal is to provide information that either educates, informs or solves a problem for your customer.
Think of a close friend, if you went for coffee every week with this person and every time you met them they tried to sell you something, you wouldn’t be long filtering them out of your life. However, if you met them every week and they brought value to your life and after a period of time they requested a favour off you, you would feel more comfortable fulfilling their request because they have invested in the relationship first. The core principle of inbound marketing centres on the belief that businesses should deliver value to their customers first, before asking for their money.
Inbound marketing is being used by some of the most established organizations in the Middle East, such as Messe Frankfurt and Rivoli Group in Dubai, and Flash Entertainment in Abu Dhabi. It’s also being used by SME’s in various industries like beauty and e-commerce. Although its early days for many of these companies and results take time, on a global level the approach has already been proven to work effectively.
What Does Inbound Marketing Look Like?
There are a number of approaches to creating quality content to support your inbound strategy which you can use. Take for example –
- Infographics – Typically graphics that include statistics, charts, graphs, and other information intended to present information quickly and clearly.
- Video’s – The falling cost of professional equipment used for high quality video and audio production has made creating content easier than ever. Amateur video has been extremely successful in helping build brands like Huda Beauty and allowing personalities like Fouz Al Fahad to establish themselves as influencers in the Middle East. More recently, popular online entertainment magazine Lovin’ Dubai have been experimenting by sharing entertainment news through Facebook Live.
- Blogs – Essentially what you are reading right now. It’s an opportunity to share your knowledge, experiences or the latest news from within your industry.
These are just a few brief examples of what’s involved in inbound marketing. There are many other types of content including podcasts, eBooks, whitepapers, optimized webpages and so on.
Why Use Inbound Marketing For Your Business?
To understand why inbound marketing is important for your business, it’s necessary to understand the key steps of the buying process:
- Awareness – The buyer recognizes they have a problem.
- Consideration – Once the customer identifies the problem, they will begin to research and educate themselves on possible solutions. Comparing different suppliers and products is typical at this point.
- Decision – The buyer chooses the preferred solution.
The value with inbound marketing when compared to traditional marketing is it works well for the first two stages of the process I have mentioned above, traditional marketing significantly less so. Inbound marketing raises awareness of the solutions available to your customers and educates them on your product, at a time when they are likely to be consciously looking for such a solution. The trust that typically needs to be developed throughout an extensive sales process has already been built before you even know the potential customer exists.
The return on investment for inbound marketing can be significant if implemented correctly. It supports many other digital marketing channels and efforts, and not only provides additional content to share across your social media platforms but also contributes to SEO efforts by creating natural inbound links and building up a wealth of excellent content available on your website.
Remarkable content brings real value. Companies distribute content all of the time, everything from emails to direct mail to brochures, but most of the time it’s neither relevant nor valuable. In my experience the problem with many companies is they create and distribute marketing collateral in the way they want to their customers to consume it, not in the way they will actually consume it.
What’s important to understand about content, is it’s only good if someone actually wants to read it, even better if someone will pay for it. Great content can come in many different forms, like user generated content. GoPro has become a master at exploiting user generated content as a means of promoting it’s products. In place of a creative director, actors, and videographers, GoPro simply supplies a wearable camera to an incredible athlete and gets back footage that creates an exhilarating narrative for what the brand represents. Normal customers have become advertisers themselves, shooting high-quality video and uploading it onto social networks like YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, in turn advertising the potential of the camera to friends, family and total strangers. Video content created by their customers is both powerful and affordable. But above all, it is relatable in a way that polished, structured and scripted advertising is not.
If you’re unsure how you can bring value to your customers through inbound marketing, simply ask your current customers what type of content you can create that would be beneficial to them now, or would have been useful to them when they were considering your product or service.