By Brian McKay
Marketing has changed massively in recent years, largely due to the rise of new mediums. Where radio, television and newspapers were once the predominant ways of spreading a message, social media and online content are now proving much more effective.
This shake up in the industry has meant that traditional methods, often described as “outbound” marketing, have been replaced by new approaches, sometimes called “inbound” marketing.
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Why outbound doesn’t cut it anymore
The main principle behind outbound marketing is that the company sends its message out to its desired audience, with some common examples being TV advertising, cold calling or magazine ads. This main aim of this approach was to reach as wide an audience as possible, even if targeting a specific group, but all of the effort was being made by the brand itself. The problems with this approach include that it can be difficult to track return on investment (ROI) and that marketing materials are easy to ignore.
New inbound methods
The predominant reason why some brands are switching their efforts from outbound to inbound marketing is that the latter involves the customer doing part of the work for you. With inbound marketing, you only focus your efforts on consumers that are already interested in your brand or business. Instead of throwing your marketing out into the big, wide world only to be met with silence, inbound marketing helps your brand to be found by the people that want to find it.
One of the major differences between inbound and outbound marketing is that the former may not involve the use of ads, in the traditional sense, at all. Instead, brands focus on creating engaging content in the form of videos or blogs that attract a particular audience. Rather than saying “buy our product,” a brand encourages its audience to think about particular challenges or questions and how to solve them.
This content may still have a “call-to-action” persuading the customer in some way, but generally looks to take a more subtle approach when compared to traditional forms of marketing.
Another major branch of inbound marketing is search engine optimization, or SEO. Many customers begin their purchasing journey by using an online search engine and SEO aims to get your brand appearing at the top of the relevant queries.
In the past, businesses used to stuff their webpages with keywords to boost their search ranking, but as search algorithms have increased in complexity, SEO services have adopted increasingly advanced tools and methods.
Social media is another modern phenomenon that has quickly become a vital part of every inbound marketing strategy. Social networks provide brands with an effective method of promoting their content. Businesses can pay for this promotion, publicize content through their own channels and, hopefully, build up relationships with other users so that they share the content as well.
Social networks also contain a vast amount of data that you can use to build a picture of a particular audience. Using this, brands can target their content and other marketing materials to the relevant audience. The days when businesses simply put their advert out into the world and hoped for the best are long gone.