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What You Already Know About Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing

You may not be aware of it, but you already know a lot about marketing. What was your last purchase? I'm not thinking of lunch or a movie, but something substantial, say more than $100. I was going to say $50, but a tank of gas is more than that these days.

Do you know if you were influenced by inbound (also called "permission marketing") or outbound marketing techniques? You should. Read on to learn why.

What made you want to buy?

Was it television? If so, you are rare. Thanks to DVR technology, 86% of people now claim they skip TV ads.(1)
Was it a telemarketer? Not likely, as 2/3 of the US population is on the "Do Not Call List".(2)
And I know better than to ask if it was direct mail. 44% of direct mail goes directly into the trash(3) (I suspect this number is underreported, possibly because of surveys delivered by mail).
I predict that you, like most of us today, purchased because you wanted to. In other words, you initiated the process. You weren't motivated by a great deal that showed up in your mailbox, or a funny ad on TV, or a sales pitch at your front door. Instead, it was your own decision making and access to research that resulted in action.

This is why inbound marketing works!

61% of us are likely to research our purchases online(4). Thanks to widespread Internet access, it's easy and it saves us from making purchases we regret - or worse in the business world, purchases that waste money or embarrass us.

Put Inbound Marketing to Work for your Business

Based on your own behavior, you know people use the Internet to research their purchases. This is true for both consumer and business shoppers. If you haven't already, start thinking about ways to use a portion of your marketing budget to reach prospects when they are looking for you. It doesn't matter if you sell financial software or beach balls, a portion - possibly a large one - of your clients will respond better to inbound marketing than traditional interruptive marketing techniques.

Top Ways to Incorporate Inbound Marketing in Your Mix

  • Offer Useful Content - The whole reason you are in business is because you have valuable products and services. Use your knowledge of your industry to educate your visitors and they are much more likely to become customers.
  • Give Visitors Options - Nearly all the traffic to your website isn't ready to buy - yet. But that doesn't mean they won't. Find ways to make it possible for visitors to stay in touch with you. Provide valuable content and resources that people will keep. Ask for an email address when appropriate. When these prospects are ready to buy, you'll be an established vendor in their minds.
  • Measure Everything - It's difficult to improve what you don't measure. Use web and marketing analytics to learn what people are searching for on your website, what content they value most, and what offers they respond to best. Couple your reporting with sales data, so you can tie dollar amounts to your content and marketing efforts.

Traditional marketing is like shouting your offer through a megaphone at a crowd. It takes a lot of energy and you have no idea if anybody is listening. On the other hand, inbound marketing acknowledges that it's the customer who initiates contact when they are ready to buy.

Successful inbound marketing takes significant creativity, preparation and infrastructure, however the results are worth it. But, you already know that!

1 The Guardian, August 2010
2 FTC, July 2010
3 EPA, November 2010
4 Interconnected World: Shopping and Personal Finance, 2012