Definition: Inbound Marketing - How customers approach you
In the age of the flood of advertising, it is not easy to draw attention to your own innovations. Instead of advertising even shriller and louder than the others, there is a sympathetic and efficient alternative for classic marketing. Read in this blogpost, how the definition of Inbound marketing reads and why Inbound marketing is so successful.
The possibilities to inspire new customers for a product or an innovation are more diverse today than ever before. In addition to the traditional advertising channels such as television, radio, print or poster, the various forms of online advertising, mobile marketing and advertising opportunities in the social media channels have been added.
The most recent trend, which the advertising industry is currently dealing with, is to connect the online and offline worlds - as Google and Mastercard are currently trying to do. The aim is to generate new insights into target groups and their behaviour in order to be able to communicate in an even more targeted way. It remains to be seen whether the customer wants this himself. One thing is certain: The old as well as many new methods, however, have one characteristic in common: Those who have something to sell send a message to those they believe can buy it.
The customer gets lost in the flood of advertisements
But the intensity of marketing has also increased with the possibilities of advertising. Because the consumer or also the business customer is bombarded almost already at each corner with advertisement, he perceives these less and less. Today, it has become more expensive and more difficult to reach exactly those people with their own advertising messages who one has in mind as a target group. At the same time the customer loses the overview because of the advertising flood and the increasing offer. It is becoming increasingly difficult for them to find exactly the right solution for their problems. To achieve this, consumers and B2B buyers are increasingly using search engines on the Internet.
This is exactly where inbound marketing comes in: Companies offer suitable solutions to those who are already actively searching. Inbound marketing simply reverses the mechanics of classical marketing. Instead of competing with others for the attention of the target group, the company can be found by potential customers. A company achieves this if it offers useful content for its target group on its website or other channels, such as social media. The inbound marketing process is supposed to turn users who are looking for solutions on the web not only into customers, but also into fans of the company.
Inbound marketing has many faces
There are many tools that can be used in the inbound marketing process. Ultimately, this always depends on the individual requirements, but also on the company's resources. Typically, inbound marketing uses the following tools:
- Content-Marketing: A company wants to address certain target groups with informative, advisory or entertaining content. The focus is always on the benefit that the potential customer derives from the company's offering.
- Public Relation: This is to be understood as the organized communication of companies to the public or a part of it. However, PR only serves as an instrument for inbound marketing if it not only concentrates on the positive characteristics of the company and the product, but is operated from the user's perspective.
- Social Media: It does not always have to be your own website or blog on which a company publishes useful content in order to be found by searchers. Social media platforms are also suitable for this. Which one a company uses depends on the target group targeted. LinkedIn or Xing, for example, are very well suited to addressing B2B customers.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This is to be understood as a conglomeration of measures designed to ensure that the contents of a company are better found in search engines.
- E-Mail-Marketing: In inbound marketing, this tool ensures that a company can contact an anonymous interested party. After the user has consumed a content that is of interest to him or her, the website automatically offers him or her to disclose his or her e-mail address. In return, the company promises to provide him with further useful content. This content then also reaches the interested party via e-mail.
- Conversion Optimization: Conversion is the change in status of a potential customer. If, for example, a prospective customer becomes a buyer, then a conversion has taken place. In inbound marketing, the target group passes through a conversion funnel, in which the conversion is carried out from an anonymous prospective customer to a company fan.
- Lead Nurturing: A lead is a contact that a company has gained through a marketing measure. Lead Nurturing is about addressing this person at the right time with content that is relevant to him or her in order to ultimately turn him or her into a buyer or fan. But lead nurturing also means filtering out those contacts that are not potential customers of one's own. These could be competitors, for example.
- Customer-Relationship-Management (CRM): The systematic design of customer relations ensures that each individual customer can always be picked up exactly where he or she is. This could be content specifically geared to the status of a customer, but also offers. CRM is particularly helpful for lead nurturing.
What Inbound Marketing is not
Some of the instruments mentioned are admittedly also known from classical marketing - outbound marketing. Because some of them are also suitable for sending advertising messages to as wide an audience as possible without the latter having expressed an interest in them beforehand. The central component of inbound marketing is to put oneself in the perspective of potential customers in order to derive every communication measure and content from it. For example, PR is an outbound marketing tool when it puts a company or a product in the limelight. However, if PR deals with a social problem and offers a solution for it, then it is an inbound marketing measure. It requires therefore a very deep target group understanding, which it applies to internalize. Of course, a company always tends to put its own performance in the limelight. In inbound marketing, the central question is always: "And what does the customer get out of it?
Virtual identities show how the target group ticks
In order to always be able to find an answer to these questions, so-called buyer personas help. These are virtual identities to which certain characteristics are ascribed that are typical for the target group. With such fictitious people in mind, the content and marketing measures can be adapted to the target group much better and, above all, much more naturally than if a complex target group description had to be remembered for each measure.
Inbound marketing is becoming increasingly popular
The approach of actually helping customers instead of annoying them with more or less relevant messages has also proven itself in practice. According to a study conducted in 2018, almost half of the marketing decision-makers surveyed believe that inbound marketing leads to higher returns. More and more companies are using this method because it offers numerous advantages over traditional marketing: Inbound marketing, for example, is very easy to measure. The costs are comparatively low compared to other instruments, transparent in any case and also easily controllable. Because inbound marketing focuses on the customer, companies automatically build up more and more knowledge about their clientele. This is why inbound marketing is so well suited for marketing innovations. LEAD Innovation therefore likes to call inbound marketing innovation marketing. Without successful marketing, an invention remains merely an invention: Because in the sense of the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter, an innovation is defined as an invention plus market success.
Conclusion: Definition: Inbound Marketing - How customers approach you
Especially in marketing and advertising, it is counterproductive to act as the majority of others do. To attract attention, you only have two alternatives: To invest more in advertising than your competitors do. Or to tread alternative paths. One such alternative is inbound marketing. You look at your own company from the perspective of B2B customers or consumers. This is the prerequisite for offering solutions that are actually in demand. This method is not completely new. In the United States, many companies already use inbound marketing and reserve a large part of their budgets for it. European companies are in the process of discovering the approach for themselves. Don't worry: inbound marketing will probably never come out of fashion. After all, being geared to the needs of customers will continue to pay off in the future.
Born and raised in Vienna. Since 2012 she has been in charge of Business Development at LEAD Innovation with the functions marketing, sales and communication.