Marketing has changed over the past few years. In fact, the best way to describe marketing today is using Duct Tape Marketing’s John Jantsch’s words: “Marketing = getting people to know, like and trust you.” There is only one form of marketing that allows the two-way dialog and higher level of interaction necessary for today’s shoppers to learn about a brand, trust it and become its evangelists: inbound marketing. By definition, it is a strategy that allows marketers to be found by customers and actually welcomed into their space rather than beg, pester or buy their way through. Using content marketing and social media, marketers can attract clients rather than hound them. Question is: can small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) benefit from this marketing method?
The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’. In fact, by the time you’re done reading the last sentence in this guide, you’ll be wondering why you haven’t embraced it earlier.
Traditional Marketing is No Longer Effective
According to Voltier Digital’s 2011 infographic ‘Inbound Marketing Rising’, traditional marketing (or outbound marketing) is no longer useful because of the recent shift in consumer behavior. As shoppers are growing more in control of which information they get and how they get it, companies can no longer force goods and services on them. In fact:
- 84% of consumers aged between 25 and 34 left their favorite site because of annoying or irrelevant ads
- 200 million Americans added their phone number to the FTC’s ‘Do Not Call’ list
- 86% TV watchers skip ads whenever they pop up on their screens
- 44% of direct mail has never been opened (and presumably ended up in the trash)
- 91% of email users unsubscribed from a mailing list they opted into because of spam
Based on these numbers, investing in a traditional marketing campaign is bound to exhaust your financial resources without producing results. In comparison,HubsSpot’s 2013 ‘State of Inbound Marketing’ reports that inbound marketers get 54% more leads. In addition, companies with 51-100 Twitter followers generate 106% more traffic than profiles with 25 followers or less. Moreover, social media boasts a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than traditional marketing.
SMBs are Still Establishing their Position in the Market
Small or medium sized businesses are still in the process of establishing their brands and gaining customers. Inbound marketing for small and medium companies will prevent you from scaring your clients away and actually make you the friendly next door business which they may choose over larger corporations. Besides, larger corporations are doing it, so why shouldn’t you?
Starbucks, the international coffee chain, launched a marketing campaign in 2012 to create an emotional connection with its clients. In addition to instructing baristas to communicate on a first-name basis with clients, the company promised a free latte to everyone coming in and introducing themselves. Online, the company never misses an opportunity to attract clients which is why it has over 6.95 million Twitter followers and around 38 million fans as of December 2014.
SMBs Can Start Tracking their Results
A Constant Contact survey conducted in October 2014 on 1,200 small businesses proves the growing importance of data reporting and analytics. The survey uncovered that 79% use this information to make business decisions. 73% believe that this data can help them expand their customer base and grow their business. In addition, 66% use the data to identify the best offerings to market, 53% rely on it to determine their marketing efforts, and 51% can accurately determine the best time to market.
By relying on inbound marketing, you’ll get a transparent measure of how successful your initiatives are. For instance, by posting a video or image of a certain product or service, you can get their honest feedback and decide whether or not to continue investing in it. In addition, data collected through email marketing reports, website analytics and social media analytics will give you a better idea of how effective your marketing efforts are. That way, you can cut your losses instantly and instead focus on what the public wants.
The Company’s Website Will Receive More Traffic
‘Content is King’, a fact marketers and search engine optimization (SEO) professionals have realized after the latest Google algorithms. SEO has now become closely related to marketing thanks to inbound strategies.
Your blog, news articles, web content and social media marketing posts will make your website visible to search engines, but only as long as you invest in keyword research and white hat SEO best practices. eConsultancy’s 2012 ‘PPC Accounts for Just 6% of Total Search Links’ infographic points out that 94% of search users click organic links rather than paid ones In addition, 68% of organic clicks make their way to the top three slots in search engine results. Therefore, by relying on inbound marketing methods, you can boost your website’s traffic and ultimately make more sales.
Inbound Marketing is Friendlier to SMBs’ Budgets
According to the Bright Local SMB Internet Survey 2013, SMBs spend $400 per month on marketing, which is around 46% of their marketing budget. Considering the fact that the remaining 54% is utilized for paying bills, employees and other similar costs, your profits may be very meager if not altogether non-existent.However, you can cut your marketing costs by relying on inbound marketing.HubSpot reports that generating inbound marketing leads is 61% less expensive than traditional methods. So whereas outbound strategies may cost you $346 per lead on average, inbound marketing will only cost you $135 per lead.
Aside from the five benefits mentioned above, inbound marketing can increase your conversion rate. HubSpot indicates that 57% acquired customers through their blogs, 56% through LinkedIn, and 77% through Facebook in 2012 alone. As the number of internet users and social media users has crossed million today, you’re definitely missing out on hundreds and thousands of dollars while wasting money unnecessarily on ineffective marketing techniques.
In the words of HubSpot’s CEO and co-founder, Brian Halligan’s, it’s time to accept that: “People shop and learn in a whole new way compared to just a few years ago, so marketers need to adapt or risk extinction.”