With the evolution of Internet and digital space, marketing has evolved a lot over the years. Consumers no longer depend on banners, TV commercials and telemarketing calls to learn about products of their interest. Web has empowered them with alternative methods for finding, buying and researching brands and products.
This modern way of marketing focuses on engagement between prospects and businesses, through quality content, distributed through social media, emails, blogs, ebooks and infographics.
As per HubSpot’s definition of Inbound Marketing : “Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.”
That pretty much summarises what Inbound Marketing is all about, but still being in a nascent stage, there exists a plethora of misconceptions. Here is my attempt to bust those misconceptions about inbound marketing, through a comparison with other forms of marketing:
1. Outbound vs InboundOutbound
Marketing is just a contemporary synonym for ‘traditional advertising methods’.
Unlike Inbound Marketing, outbound marketing usually does not have a defined audience and focuses on reaching people through cold means, that can be frustrating at times.
The major weapons of Outbound Marketing involves billboards, banners, TV ads, newspaper advertising, telemarketing/cold calling etc.
The key differentiator between Outbound and Inbound Marketing is communication. Outbound Marketing relies on extrovert communication techniques of mass media, where the loudest voice usually wins. It is a one-way communication, where your audience cannot exchange thoughts or queries, even if they want to.
Inbound Marketing is a cultured way of marketing that involves transparency and honesty. You have to be transparent about your products and services, and engage with your prospects even if they have a negative feedback.
This can help you create a sense of loyalty, and at the same time you can work on your product to give your to-be customers a better experience.
2. Digital vs Inbound
There have been numerous never-ending debates around this difference. Amateurs have always had this common misconception about inbound marketing, and often relate it with digital marketing.
Digital marketing is a broad term that focuses on creating brand awareness, by the means of SEO, email marketing, influencer marketing, affiliate marketing, PPC campaigns etc. It uses both online and offline platforms to reach out to prospects.
Inbound Marketing is a marketing methodology, that is based on attracting and converting users, close them into customers by the means of persona based strategies and content offers. Inbound Marketing expectations are big, but not to forget, it is a long term effort that even involves nurturing inactive leads through useful and quality content in the form of ebooks, video content or infographics.
Digital Marketing is actually a subset of an overall Inbound methodology.
3. Inbound vs Content
Among the several misconceptions about Inbound Marketing, this is the most common one. Inbound and Content marketing are seemingly similar terms to many. But in reality, content is just a part of an effective inbound marketing methodology. No doubt, an inbound marketing strategy requires content to engage audience, but at the same time, a whole lot of other inbound tactics are required to deliver results.
Simply put, if your goal is to give your visitors cool stuffs to read about, then content marketing is enough for you, but if you want to convert your website into a lead generation platform, you need to align your content strategy with all the components of Inbound methodology.
Inbound Marketing components
SEO is the core of inbound marketing. According to Hubspot, inbound marketing starts with turning strangers to website visitors, converting them into leads, and closing them into customers.
So, the very first step cannot be accomplished without an effective SEO strategy. You need to create quality content, optimize them around keywords that your persona would be looking for, and once you start to appear on search results, you begin attracting visitors to your website.
2. Social Media
Social Media is not exactly an Inbound Methodology, since the purpose is different. In traditional social media marketing, the emphasis is on growing followers, who may or may not be the right fit for your brand.
On the other hand, inbound marketing focuses on generating engaging content on social media, to communicate with your persona. It doesn’t expect much in terms of lead generation through organic posts, however, paid campaigns are used to achieve the required lead number.
3. Email Marketing
Email marketing has always been considered as a cold way of marketing. Often considered as spam, marketing emails are a part of almost all types of marketing strategies.
Email Marketing should not be considered as a pure inbound methodology, although it is an important part of it.
Inbound Marketing starts with an analysis of existing marketing funnel, and goal setting in terms of website visitors to achieve the targeted lead number. When organic and social media doesn’t have the potential to attract required number of visitors, email marketing is used as the final resort to fill the gap in the funnel.
Inbound Marketing focuses on attracting audiences, instead of going out to ask for it. It creates brand exposure and brand authority with the help of valuable content and distribution.
The way people communicate with brands these days is changing rapidly. Inbound marketing leverages these changes to promote your business in a cost effective way.
If you want to expand your audience, and turn your website into a lead generation machine, Inbound Marketing is the way to go.
I believe, I have been able to clear your doubts and misconceptions about inbound marketing. Still, if you have any queries, do mention in the comments section.