If you’ve ever received a sales call after sitting down for dinner with your family, then you’re familiar with the abrasive and assault-like practice of cold calling. Not so long ago, this telemarketing tactic offered businesses an excellent way to generate leads. Naturally, to sell something, you need someone to sell to. Consequently, sales teams chose to reach more potential customers by dialing one number after another.
The Decline of Outbound Marketing
A lot has happened in recent decades. Most notably, technology has advanced in leaps and bounds, leaving many traditional marketing techniques in the dust and marketing teams scrambling to keep up with the tides of change. For example, before there was caller ID, many people felt they had no choice but to answer that evening phone call. After all, there was no way to tell if the caller on the other end of the line was a friend or family member. But with the development of technology that allowed people to know who was calling without answering, cold calling became less lucrative and effective.
Of course, in the information age, the internet has played a dramatic role in the evolution of marketing, as well. Now, people can simply search for the information that they need. Because of this, it’s common for individuals to conduct their own product research online before making a purchase, and they no longer rely on a salesperson to tell them what they need and why.
Before the dotcom bubble, most marketing mediums supported outbound marketing techniques. In other words, information was pushed toward the consumers. However, the digital age paved the way for new marketing techniques to emerge. The birth of search engines, for instance, allowed internet users to find services, products, and information from the comfort of their home.
Inbound Marketing Makes Its Debut
After the dotcom bubble, the internet entered a new age of information sharing, and users gravitated toward the valuable content that brands were offering to their customers. This evolution led consumers to grow even more disenchanted with outbound marketing techniques like telemarketing and spam.
Inbound marketing makes the most of these developments and takes the opposite approach of outbound marketing. Instead of forcing information and advertising onto customers who may have no need for or interest in it, inbound marketing entices customers by providing them with information that they want or might benefit from. This process is done through different channels, such as search engines, blogs, and social media. Inbound marketing is built on the premise that if you publish the right content, in the right place, and at the right time, that you can help customers find you while providing them with content and marketing that they appreciate. To put it simply, an outbound marketer hunts for customers, while an inbound marketer attracts them.
The Evolving Digital Marketing Landscape
As outbound marketing strategies grew less cost-effective for businesses and more disliked by consumers, advances in technology paved the way for outbound marketing alternatives to step into the spotlight. For example, pay-per-click and AdWords were born, and search engines continued to evolve as Google Analytics and PageRank arrived on the scene. Social media was born, which provided people with online platforms where they could connect with others who shared their interests. Of course, e-commerce started as well, allowing people to find and purchase the goods that they wanted with just a few mouse clicks.
HubSpot launched in 2006, providing inbound marketing software designed to monopolize on the evolution of the internet and its users. Its co-founders, Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, recognized that consumers wanted to be helped and not spammed or interrupted. The inbound marketing approach does not fight for the attention of customers, but instead, offers them content and interactions that are relevant to their needs and interests, and that they find helpful instead of interruptive.
However, it takes more to convert readers into customers than just content. HubSpot’s inbound marketing methodology breaks down the lifecycle marketing process of converting strangers into customers and then promoters of your brand into 4 steps. First, you attract strangers using blogs, keywords, and social publishing. Second, you convert these visitors into leads with the use of forms, calls-to-action, and landing pages. Next, you focus on customer relationship management, email communication, and nurturing leads to transform them into customers. Finally, by delighting your customers with satisfaction surveys, smart content, and social monitoring, you can compound your benefits by turning customers into promoters of your business.
In the digital age, inbound marketing has proven its worth as a powerful tool for attracting customers via content creation and distribution, lifecycle marketing, personalization, the use of multiple channels, and integration. As for the future, the only sure thing is that inbound marketing will continue to evolve.
At Pennington Creative, partnering with brands to help them attract readers and engage customers with quality content is our specialty. If you’re ready to perfect your brand and grow your business, then visit our website to learn more about how we can help.