Since it is still relatively new, it can be hard for some to understand the philosophy behind inbound marketing. I see this a lot when talking to prospective clients who are just getting turned on to it. When I talk to them, it is clear that they have an understanding of what is involved, but they don’t really get why it works and why it resonates with prospects.
This lack of understanding can sometimes cause issues if they embrace inbound techniques but don’t see them working in exactly the way that they think they should. That is why I thought it would be a good idea to go into a bit of detail about the inbound philosophy and why it is so important to understand it.
Why You Need to Understand What Inbound Marketing Is
Inbound is different from traditional outbound marketing not just because of the techniques it uses but because the overarching philosophy behind it. It has a very different way of trying to connect with customers and prospects, one that inbound marketers often describe as “pull not push.”
If you don’t truly understand inbound, then chances are good that you won’t be able to effectively carry it out. For example, you may create content that is too salesy and turns people away instead of attracting them.
Not understanding the concepts behind inbound marketing can also lead to an unrealistic or misplaced expectations when it comes to the techniques it uses. Rand Fishkin from Moz actually talked about this in a recent video, discussing how some people assume that a prospect should instantly convert after reading a blog article once.
The reality is that a blog is not like an ad in a magazine; you don’t just put it out there and expect is to directly generate a certain amount of leads.
Once you wrap your head around the inbound philosophy you will find that you can find it much easier to plan and carry out your campaigns.
The Zen of Inbound Marketing
All of this begs the question: what is the philosophy behind inbound marketing? Well, inbound is about connecting to prospects both frequently and meaningfully and pulling them through the sales funnel.
This is achieved by providing value to prospective customers and taking the time to educate them about your brand as well as your industry.
With inbound, every channel works together to lead the prospect to the point of conversion. Every blog post, every social media update and every email plays a role, and by working in unison effectively drive sales.
Because there are so many pieces that contribute to each conversion, however, it can be hard to see the value for each individual piece. Much of the time, there isn’t a simple “marketing channel A led to sales result B” correlation. Instead, inbound works more like “marketing channels A, B, C, and D led to sales result E.”
This means that if you have a blog and it generates almost no conversions, you shouldn’t just assumethat it isn’t doing anything. It may be attracting traffic to your site and is therefore responsible for putting leads on the path to conversion.
Community Driven Content
Another important thing about inbound marketing is that it is primarily content driven and that the content has value to the reader. The content shouldn’t just be about your brand, either, but touch on a number of subjects within you industry.
Inbound marketers often talk about the “cocktail party” rule when it comes to content. If you go to a party and you only talk about yourself, people will eventually stop listening to you and start searching for more interesting conversation. If you mix things up and talk about other things that you know about, you are much more likely to keep people’s attention.
With inbound marketing, the goal isn’t just to sell a product or services, at least not immediately. It’s to show that you are not just another faceless organization. Content helps to make you an authority in your industry and help you build a community within it. This shows that you are passionate about what you do, which leads and customers will respond to.
Trust Driven Marketing
Most importantly, inbound marketing is about establishing trust and respect for your brand. This is achieved by providing value to prospective customers up from and consistently. Trust and respect take some time to build, as you can imagine, so you have to be ok with making a lot of effort upfront with the expectation of generating customers later down the line.
This can be hard when you are looking to generate business ASAP, but the payoff is that when you do start to see a return, it usually is at a much reduced cost to the amount of leads generated. On top of that, because trust has been established, the customers you get tend to spend more with you and sometimes act as advocates for your brand.
Still not sure how to achieve inbound Zen? Reach out to me @InboundRoot.
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