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First off, What is the Difference Between Inbound Marketing & Traditional Marketing?
Inbound marketing is the use of mostly online tools and tactics such as blogs, eBooks, video, social media marketing, newsletters and other forms of content marketing to attract prospects to your brand so they come to you as the thought leader in your space as opposed to ramming ‘spray-and-pray’ marketing messages down their throats.
Also called ‘permission marketing’, it’s a technique which has grown in prevalence with the rise of power the consumer now has in their decision making process. In fact, by the time a prospect calls or contacts you, 60% of their decision making process has already been made.
It’s the job of inbound marketing to therefore help prospects move down the decision making journey with truly useful content. Because that content is coming from your brand, you are the incumbent subject matter authority.
Inbound marketing is proven to have a higher success rate in terms of sales (which I expand on below) and it’s no surprise really when you think about it as trust and confidence has already been built by the time the prospect is in decision making mode.
Businesses have to change their focus from the lens of their as the customer, rather than them as the driving force behind their marketing comms.
Which brings me to why you would want to seek out specifically an inbound marketing agency?
The integration of information learned through inbound marketing techniques with web design is called Growth Driven Design (GDD).
Essentially, it’s the inbound marketing way of building a site and in summary, focuses on three fundamentals:
GDD relies more on agility, data and user-experience and less on the highest paid person’s opinion. It’s more flexible, faster to market and less prone to barbaric scope increase costs.
Here’s a quick summary, courtesy of the growthdrivendesign.com
It is part of an inbound marketer’s creed to understand personas and how to make use of them via tactical execution.
By nature, inbound marketing forces businesses to create detailed profiles of their customers, based around any number of metrics.
See, you need to understand your personas because each of them makes a decision very differently.
We often get asked “what should I write about?” or “why is my blog not working?”. Apart from lacking a strategy or calendar, a common trait is also no defined persona.
We actually won’t even bother trying to create content for clients, build a website or do any social work until we understand the customer as a person.
What keep them up at night? What is the context their purchasing problem resides in? What would make their job/life easier? What don’t they give a damn about?
Answers to these questions and more help us craft the targeted personas to which all our strategies are aligned too.
These profiles help drive the content of websites and social media profiles, to best ensure business success and sales through targeted messages and techniques that appeal specifically to each profile.
Rather than making assumptions about customers, it allows businesses to grow and adapt in line with customer demands and behavioural patterns.
This allows marketers to be more efficient when it comes to their advertising spend, as it removes what used to be the need to actively glean information from customers through paid advertising strategies.
Customers benefit through the fact the inbound marketing content they are exposed to is more geared towards their interests and tastes than other marketing strategies.
The problem with most creative agencies is they seem to be always chasing their own tails in a bid to up to date with the latest on-goings in digital.
Compounding this problem, according to a post on Mumbrella, ‘creative agencies will never be able to hang on to digital talent’ – yikes. A little harsh, but even if that’s half true, it doesn’t leave a lot of confidence in the digital edge large creative agencies have.
Larger, less specialised creative agencies are often more diverse in their methodologies and how they approach marketing. They are also usually more expensive.
Don’t get us wrong, creative agencies will always have a place (and we actually love working with some of the better ones in Sydney) however they just aren’t geared for the real-time nature of marketing that is required today.
True, an advertising campaign may evolve and have a life of its own, but there are typically weeks, even months in between the first set of commercials or placements and the next iteration that continues to tell the story.
Online, you don’t have months, you don’t even have weeks, you need to have the agility of minutes, something big bloat agencies struggle to deal with.
Compare a big box agency with all their resources with 22 year old Trent Silver, who adopted the principles of Newsjacking by the Godfather of Inbound Marketing David Meerman Scott.
Trent runs a business called Cash for Purses, a company that finds new homes for high quality designer handbags. Trent noticed a lot of buzz around Lindsay Lohan being cash strapped and realised she was sitting on a goldmine! So he crafted a pitch to buy all of Lindsay’s bags to help her pay her bills.
The result? $250,000 worth of sales as thousands of media sites such as Huffington post and Inquisitr picked up the story and shared it with their own audiences
Now ofcourse, adopting an inbound marketing agency does not promise equal success but the point is adopting the principles of inbound marketing which at their core define and understand what your personas are interested in along with a mindset of real-time marketing, put you in the right direction.
Sorry large creative agencies, you’ll have to do more than just refurbish your funky offices. #sorrynotsorry
Have you ever received a marketing agency report that sucked? I can’t figure out for the life of me why more agencies don’t invest in solid reporting.
Surely it’s in the best interest of an agency to demonstrate their worth? Or is it an excuse to hide? We’ll need to save this argument for another day #endrant.
Certainly, the mere fact an agency is an ‘inbound marketing agency’ like RedPandas doesn’t mean their reporting will also be useful but a key driver of the inbound methodology is data and insights.
Indeed, the greatest thing about inbound campaigns is that everything is measurable. Because it is less push, interruptive marketing like expensive TV/Radio ads and more pull marketing means almost everything can be attributable.
A good inbound marketing agency will also be adept at using a powerful inbound marketing platform like HubSpot (what we use) that makes it even easier to understand what marketing activity was consumed by your most valuable personas on their journey to conversion.
Good reporting means good insights and even better recommendations.
It also allows businesses using inbound (and traditional marketing techniques) to appreciate what appeals to personas more broadly, what are they interested in and how they would like to be contacted.
Research shows that customers have to be interacted with eight to 10 times before they can be converted into a sale.
Having visibility into what these touchpoints are, what stage of the buyer’s journey should they be used and how they contribute to a conversion is powerful stuff.
This is where lead nurturing and lead scoring shine.
Lead nurturing is essentially the process of building a relationship over time with your personas, even before they are at the stage of buying, so when they are ready they are more likely to think of you, the brand that educated and built a relationship with them over time.
Lead nurturing remains true to the fact that people just don’t see your brand and buy. They need to be nurtured first.
How lead scoring fits in is it assigns a relative score based on how warm they are and therefore how likely they are to convert.
For instance, a prospect who has visited your pricing page 3 times in the last week is obviously a lot warmer than someone who has consumed 3 awareness stage blogs over 3 months. Via a platform like hubspot or marketo, lead scoring therefore assigns a score of sales readiness.
As you begin to build a profile of your prospect as well, say you know they are a procurement manager and that’s exactly who you ideal customer tends to be, you can assign a score automatically to the prospect once you have this information.
Over time, an inbound marketing agency can help you build a profile with relative scores of what the warmest leads and subsequent customers look like:
This makes the job of the sales team a hell of a lot easier as the warmest leads bubble to the top of their list, are most qualified and prime to purchase.
There are numerous platforms and software packages that allow business to generate customer lead scores, based on their interaction with their inbound marketing output. Our weapon of choice of course, is HubSpot.
Really, if you only needed one reason, this was it.
Inbound marketing has been found to generate 54% more leads than traditional marketing techniques, while being 64% cheaper.
By its very nature, inbound marketing is seen as providing something of value – for example information or entertainment – to a customer outside any paid service or product.
It is significantly more likely to be seen as helpful and suited to the customer’s needs and interests, rather than being intrusive and interrupting, as traditional media is often perceived.
As a result, customers feel more free to make a purchase decision in their own time and not pressured, as they often do with more traditional techniques. They are inclined to feel that the business has an interest other than solely securing a sale from themselves.
This represents a give and take relationship, where the customer has the upper-hand.
This applies whether or not the customer has made a purchase – or intends to – at any particular time, as the more positive exposure the customer has to the business, the closer they are to being a converted sale.
Inbound marketing is becoming more and more popular, especially as more businesses make a significant transfer of their business and advertising spend to the digital and online space.
The competitiveness of this space means that businesses that best understand their customer and are able to adapt quickly succeed, all while saving precious advertising dollars through more targeted and productive ad campaigns and online strategies.
If businesses wants to stay competitive online, an inbound marketing agency that specialises in either small to medium or medium to large businesses is the only choice to get the best outcomes around growth, reach and profit, not to mention customer satisfaction and positive brand image.