If you’ve been in business for a while, then you may have noticed some changes in the way you acquire customers. In the beginning there was a lot of shoe leather and petrol used pounding the streets, hitting the phones, sending out mail shots, and just generally being loud and getting your foot in the door in order to win business. Now, it seems as though more and more customers are coming to you, without you having to grab the megaphone and announce who you are or what you sell Inbound marketing is starting to take over from the traditional hard sell; let’s take a look at how and why this is happening.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Firstly, it’s important to understand what inbound marketing is and how it works. Effectively, inbound marketing is the process of getting found online and then converting that visitor into a customer. There are various ways this can be achieved, such as through SEO (search engine optimisation), blogging, social media, and other forms of website content. The potential customer visits your website through one of these channels, they can then be turned into a lead, and/or sold to there and then. You are not doing the chasing, the customer is coming to you. That is inbound marketing at it’s simplest.
Why is Inbound Marketing so Effective?
So, how can it be that inbound marketing seems to be so effective? The key is that you are focusing more on the customer and what they want to buy, as opposed to you as a business and what you want to sell. You’re providing something valuable to the visitor, such as a useful blog or interesting web content, which then leads them to your website. There they are given the freedom to browse and make their own decisions, without a salesperson constantly asking if they “need any help”. Of course, you can create clever inbound marketing techniques in which you can highlight certain products or services, in the hope that your potential customer will buy them, but there’s no hard selling involved. You can draw potential customers in using a variety of inbound methods, before letting them make a decision on whether to purchase from you. The better your website content, blogs, SEO and social media, the more likely you are to sell.
Will Inbound Marketing replacing traditional sales & marketing methods?
According to the 2014 State of Inbound Marketing Report, compiled by Hubspot, inbound marketing is shortening sales cycles, increasing sales close rates, and has become better value for money per lead. These statistics alone make it clear why the traditional hard sell is on the way out. If it is more cheaper and more effective to use inbound marketing, there hardly seems any point in using outbound marketing. However, the best way to increase your business is by using a combination of the two. Although traditional selling methods are being used infrequently, there is no reasoning behind stopping them altogether. A good combination of clever inbound marketing and the traditional hard sell will ensure you’re getting the most return on your investment. It is imperative that you have an excellent website, full of useful content, complete with top quality blogs and social networking posts, if you want to beat the competition.
Less companies are focusing their marketing efforts on the traditional hard sell, knowing full well that the returns are nowhere near as good as what they used to be. If you want to stay one step ahead of the competition, and continue to win business, then you need to focus plenty of attention on inbound marketing. Will the traditional hard sell eventually disappear altogether? It's unlikely, but in our view we’ll certainly see less and less of it in the coming years.