This article is part of a series of twenty articles. Click to read: The Top 20 Web Marketing Concepts Your Next Website Design Company Should Know
There is a time and place for both inbound marketing – search engine optimization (SEO), blogs, content publishing, subscriber emails, and social media – and outbound marketing – print and TV/radio advertising, telemarketing, trade shows, and cold calling.
The debate should not be about which one is better, because both have merit. But for small business owners who can’t afford a large marketing staff and don’t have a large advertising budget, the debate should focus on where to spend your limited time and advertising dollars to get the highest ROI (return on investment).
That said, the reality is that people are increasingly going to the Internet to learn about the products and services they want to buy and to find places to buy them. Last week I decided to buy a patio umbrella. I wanted to make sure it can withstand wind and rain, and would not fade in one summer. Did I want to wait to get a direct mail piece selling patio umbrellas? No. Did I want to wait for a radio, TV, magazine or newspaper ad to tell me where to find one? No. And even if I did see an ad, how much can they possibly tell me about patio umbrellas in a 30-second spot or a 4” ad? I don’t have time to wait for an ad or drive around to several stores until I find what I want. In a few minutes online I found several manufacturers’ and local stores’ websites, read consumer reviews, and learned all I needed to know about patio umbrellas, including prices. I chose a nearby store from the ones I found online, and when I went to the store to look at the umbrellas, I already knew they carried what I was looking for. All I needed to do was decide which color I liked best, buy it, and bring it home. I saved gas, time, and money using the Internet to do my leg work. That experience shows the power of inbound marketing.
Inbound (“digital”) marketing “pulls” people to your products or services. Inbound marketing strategies and techniques are designed to attract people at the moment they are online looking for information about something they want to buy. Companies must to provide useful information and tools, interact with potential customers, and develop relationships to meet the expectations of today’s online consumer.
Outbound (“traditional”) marketing “pushes” information about your products or services to the public. Promoting your business with outbound marketing keeps your name in the public view and creates a sense of urgency to buy what you sell.
What is the trend in marketing today? Industry sources estimate the ROI on email marketing at 4,300%, making it the most popular form of marketing by small businesses. Numerous studies and surveys indicate a movement toward inbound and away from outbound marketing. Consider:
- 84% of Americans do Internet research before going to a store. (Google – Zero Moment of Truth)
- 70% of consumers trust online consumer reviews, an increase of 15% in four years, more than any other source of brand information and messaging except referrals from friends and family. (Nielson)
- 42% of total retail sales in 2009 (online and offline) were affected by the Web, with sales growing to 53% by 2014. (Forrester)
- 87% of companies now employ Twitter as part of their social media marketing strategy, while 82% use Facebook.(eConsultancy.com)
- 86% of TV viewers skip ads. (The Guardian)
- 44% of junk mail is thrown away unopened. (About.com Environmental Issues)
- 74% brand recall is experienced by consumers when the advertiser’s integrated strategy is carried across mobile, TV and online. (NYTimes/Google)
The bottom line: Your inbound marketing strategy is critical to the long-term growth of your business. Get your share of the $224.2 billion estimated online sales in 2012. Contact seenBEST Web Design to help you develop an online marketing strategy that gets results.