To explain what is the Inbound marketing, it is important to know what is the Outbound marketing first.
Outbound marketing was almost the only way companies used to promote themselves until few years ago. Before the generalization of the internet access, all medias we had at disposition were a 1 way communication. TV, radio, magazines, direct mails…
We had no way to interact with these medias, and we had to accept them as they were: preselected information and mainly advertising we didn’t want. All companies worldwide were spending huge amounts of money to reach a maximum of people, not caring about the targets expectations or who would see their advertisements. From our consumer point of view, we had no real way to avoid them. We were always in presence of unasked products or services promotion. That was the Outbound marketing era.
Then, internet appeared and all services coming with (forums, emails, wikis, blogs, social networks…). So, what did companies? They did exactly what they were used to do: spent a lot of money to create a website, and have flashy and dazzling advertising on as much as possible websites, and they bought email address list (from a much or less reliable sources) to send their « digital flyers and magazines ».
But, how do we really find information nowadays when we want to buy a product or a service? Internet of course! In reality, here is what has been happening since the last few years. There is so much TV channels, radios, newspapers, websites… that the consumer retrieve its freedom to avoid advertising.
- Who don’t change channel when ads come?
- Who stay on a website half covered with pop-ups?
- Who never delete email and trash mail without opening them?
Technologies and the multiplicity of media channels, give us the possibility to switch from a media to another in a fraction of second. The Outbound era is about to collapse: less and less people are receptive or paying attention to ads.
Example of Inbound marketing from a customer point of view
Let’s review what really happens today with an example. Here is how you could buy a bouquet of flowers for your lover (or if don’t do that way, admit that it is a deep trend that has no reason to decrease).
St Valentine ‘s day is very soon and you have no idea of what kind of flower you should buy. You open your web browser, and write in your search engine « what kind of flower for my lover ». You press “Enter”, and your smart search engine first answer is an article with the title « Which flowers you should offer to your lover on St Valentine’s day ». The perfect article! You click on it and read it carefully. You learn that red roses are for passionate love, and it is exactly the information you were seeking for. You are about to leave this website when, just before the end of the article, you read « Order your bouquet or red roses from home get it delivered for Valentine’s day ». You glance at the window at your desk: cold, ice on the road, maybe the florist won’t have red roses anymore… It takes you less than 10 seconds to decide to click on the link.
You know what happens next? You order the perfect bouquet, it arrives on time, you and your lover are happy. And for your 2 years together anniversary which will come in few months, where will you go to order flowers?
During the same time, there was a florist a block away from your home with much lower price and still having red roses who advertise in local newspapers but still had the same customers as 10 years ago.
The lesson from this short story is that you probably had tons ads for flowers since the last weeks, but you had no reason to look at it; but when you had a specific question, when you decided to buy flowers, a company was there, at the right place, at the right time to answer it. And once, a company give you answer and advice, why would you search for another flower provider? This is what we call Inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing can be summarized in one sentence: get your company found, be helpful when a potential customer is seeking for information, then guide him to the sale.
This is very different from the Outbound marketing which is based on this principle: come to your eyes, your ears whenever, wherever, by any means necessary.
Outbound marketing is very intrusive and interrupt you in what you are doing, while Inbound marketing is about being reached by yourself with your authorization, when you want, where you want, and for the subject you want.
There are three objectives for companies which do Inbound marketing strategy:
- Be found
- Provide resourceful content
It is exactly what our florist example showed. The search engine showed him a website, he read an interesting content, and he finally bought to this company.
This is the very principle of the Inbound marketing. Sounds simple, don’t you think?
But don’t delude yourself, implementing that strategy in companies needs numerous different skills, and can’t be applied in few days. It is a long term view strategy which has to be well prepared and thought to be effective.
Inbound marketing is going to be the main way for companies to reach new customers in coming years. And if you are still not convinced, look around you to see the buying process of people: less and less people buy without doing researches on internet.
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