Why Should You Use Inbound Marketing?
With many industrial companies just recently opening up to the opportunities that Inbound (or Digital) Marketing has to offer, there is a lot of confusion about how it works; how it can help them; and where to start. It’s easy to understand the confusion. Most business owners who aren’t SMM, SEO and other digital acronym savvy, realize that they probably need some help in this area and many reach out to an ever growing number of marketing firms that specialize in web development and digital marketing tactics. Not only do they make it all sound like a foreign language, they push the idea that if a company doesn’t immediately drop all forms of traditional marketing and sink their entire marketing budget into Digital, they must be crazy. So what, as an industrial marketer, are you to do? With limited marketing spend and incomplete knowledge of the digital landscape, why should you risk switching from the tried and true to the new, and “experimental?”
This is the first in a series of posts in which I will explain Inbound Marketing for the industrial company in a non-techy way that even the most uninitiated (and anti-social media) can understand. Hopefully, by the end of the series, you’ll not only understand what Inbound Marketing is, you’ll see why it makes sense to begin adopting it into your overall marketing mix, and you’ll have a basic approach for how to implement it.
Sometimes I find it easier to explain what something IS by first explaining what it is NOT. Obviously, Inbound Marketing is NOT Outbound Marketing. OK, but what is Outbound Marketing? Outbound Marketing tactics are all the traditional marketing methods that industrial companies have always used:
* Print (or online) ads
* Editorial or articles in trade publications
* Trade shows
* Listings in trade related directories
* Direct mail
* Marketing literature
* Cold calling
These are the main ones, of course there are others. The reason they are called “outbound” marketing is that:
1. They are created or initiated within your organization or marketing agency.
2. They contain messaging you “think” your prospective customers need to hear.
3. They are chosen based on where you “think” your target prospects will be (what magazines they read, trade shows they attend, directories they refer to, etc.)
4. They are pushed “out” of your organization: hence, “outbound.”.
The main Inbound Marketing tactics for industrial companies are:
* Content marketing (technical and white papers, video, animations, illustrations)[/*]
* Ongoing on and off-site search engine optimization (SEO)
* Social media marketing (SMM) – the Big Five are LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+
* Email marketing with dedicated landing pages
* Metrics analysis and reporting
I’m sure you noticed that “website” falls under both the inbound and outbound categories. That is because there are websites – and then there are WEBSITES.
The website referred to under outbound marketing tactics is really no more than an online brochure. It tells what your company does, has a contact page, maybe even a news page (that probably hasn’t been updated in a year); but that’s about it. There is no new content being added to the site on a regular basis; no way for visitors to engage or interact on the site; no clear calls to action; and no way to convert visitors to the site into leads.
In an Inbound Marketing strategy, the WEBSITE is the star of attraction; a hub for all of your inbound marketing tactics; a search engine magnet; a dynamic, ever changing, constantly evolving repository for all of the expertise and knowledge maintained within your company that is presented to visitors as CONTENT; a “destination” that customers and prospects will return to because they will find answers to their questions and problems. That kind of website is absolutely necessary to an Inbound Marketing strategy’s success.
By now it may be clear why “inbound marketing” tactics are called “inbound.” Every tactic in your Inbound Marketing strategy is intended to drive qualified traffic (visitors) inbound: to your fully optimized website, where you will hopefully convince potential customers to pick up the phone and call or email you. The goal of Inbound Marketing is to help people FIND YOU, based on what they are looking at or searching for on the Internet.
Unlike the “my way or the highway” digital marketing firms, I will not tell you to drop all traditional marketing and embrace only digital. As an industrial marketer, I get that there is a lot of brand recognition and credibility to be gained from running ads and technical articles in well-respected trade journals. I know there are some trade shows that are so engrained in your industry’s history and culture that your absence would be conspicuous. If you have a highly qualified prospect database that is mainly addresses without emails, by all means, do some direct mail. There IS a way to integrate traditional with digital. However, keep in the back of your mind that digital will be the marketing of the future. You have a window of opportunity in which you can make the transition to Inbound Marketing and gain a valuable competitive advantage.
In the following posts in this series, I will cover each of the Inbound Marketing tactics listed above, explain how they all work together to drive results, and help you decide on the best approach for execution whether you’re a manufacturer or industrial service company.