Content marketing and inbound marketing are relatively new terms in the marketing sphere but if you’ve been burying your head in the sand, it’s time to pull it out! Traditional marketing is dead and inbound marketing has buried it!
When I was at uni (many, many years ago) and studying communication, the interruptive marketing model was drummed into us.
Here’s what we were taught:
What’s happened to traditional marketing?
It’s no secret that broadcast media have been struggling. Newspapers, magazines and television stations have always relied on advertising revenue to make a profit. However, with more readers looking to the internet for news and the rising dominance of inbound marketing tools (including social media channels, Youtube, more sophisticated email marketing technology, blogging and mobile apps), fewer and fewer small businesses (the backbone, not only of whole economies but of the advertising industry as well) are investing in traditional media.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is where you pull people into your business rather than push your business on them by getting them to alter course (interruption). You attract them rather than distract them! You communicate rather than manipulate. You focus on a niche rather than broadcast to a crowd.
Inbound methods include social media marketing, content creation and curation, permission-based marketing (via email) and personalisation. Here’s a great definition by Hubspot, if you need help getting your head around Inbound Marketing.
Why inbound marketing is gaining more traction.
- Inbound marketing results in lower cost per lead than traditional marketing. Social media is largely free to use, and that makes the cost of traditional advertising look rather expensive in comparison.
- Many small businesses are feeling the pain of low ROI on broadcast advertising now that consumers are tending to use social media and mobile technology to make informed buying decisions.
- More sophisticated permission-based marketing software enables small businesses to automate and personalise their marketing to a greater degree than ever before. Not only can you segment people based on their demographics or interests but you can also segment them by their behaviour around specific interests.
Rather than focusing on a large crowd, instead, you focus on a specific niche, on creating conversation, being helpful and leading your right people to make an informed decision about investing in your offering (and in themselves).
In terms of how this has changed advertising, the difference is huge. Social media enables businesses to narrowcast rather than broadcast. Narrowcasting enables you to reach out to a specific niche, thereby making your advertising and communication more personalised and relevant to your intended audience. Growth occurs as a result of providing value to your niche, creating conversation and amplified word of mouth (when people in your niche share, likes and interact with your content).
However, there are still a lot of small businesses out there that haven’t caught on to inbound’s power in the modern marketplace.
What’s stopping small businesses from investing in inbound marketing?
Recently, I started a content marketing campaign for one of my clients, an inground pool builder based in Ipswich, Queensland, who had previously invested heavily in traditional advertising. The other day, I went looking for other blogs about swimming pools to share with my client’s followers on social media.
I found only a handful of websites from local industry peers that featured articles and of those, very few were current or had more than a few posts. Most pool builders were opting for Google Ads, but my client was already on the front page of Google for his main keyword without spending anything (other than what he paid for my services).
As we add more content (and we have lots and lots of ideas), my expectation is that his business will rise in prominence on search engines and social media for his primary keywords. If he does decide to invest in Google Ads, he’ll have a strong content campaign to back it up.
This process will take time, maybe even up to a year. However, as most people don’t make snap decisions to buy something as big as a pool, this is okay. In the meantime, my clients will develop relationships with their followers and subscribers through Pinterest and Facebook, be helpful and keep sharing valuable content that will help their buyers make informed decisions about investing in an inground pool.
What is stopping small businesses from making the investment is perhaps unrealistic expectations from the outset. Inbound marketing is a long term strategy, not a short term fix. As a content marketing strategist, it’s my job to ensure my clients are fully informed about what it takes to gain traction from inbound marketing methods.
In Hubspot’s recent State of Inbound Marketing report, they highlighted that inbound marketing is more than a marketing method; it’s a philosophy. I’m inclined to agree.
For inbound marketing to work, you need to put your heart into your content, and focus on meeting the needs of specific niches at specific points in the client lifecycle, rather than spreading a wide net, hoping you catch something good.
Have you embraced inbound marketing yet? Do you believe traditional marketing is dead? Leave a comment below.