What is Inbound Marketing?

We talk to a lot of clients and ERP channel partners that ask “what is inbound marketing and who is Hubspot?”  It’s usually part of a conversation that started with something like “I just spent $10,000 on a telemarketing campaign and got 3 leads out of it.”    So let’s take a look at inbound marketing and the way that marketing has completely changed over the last several years.

Inbound Marketing Defined

Content Marketing Magnet

Inbound marketing is a strategy where you attract customers when and where they are looking for the type of products and services you offer.  The keyword is attract … the idea is to get customers to find you.

This is in contrast to traditional “outbound” strategies, like direct mail or telemarketing, where you target customers, hunt them down, and convince them that you can offer something of value.  Outbound marketing is sometimes referred to as “interruption marketing” because you’re interrupting someone with an ad, junk mail, or unwanted phone call.

What is Hubspot?

Hubspot is a company that develops marketing software and is credited with coining the term “inbound marketing.”  Their software is essentially a Software-as-a-Service (Saas) marketing platform and collection of tools that help you execute an inbound marketing strategy.

Some of the tools featured in the Hubspot platform include a Content Management System (CMS) to manage your website and blog, a Reporting Platform to analyze website traffic and leads, Keyword Tools to optimize search visibility, Blogging, Landing Pages, Social Media Tools, and Email Marketing.

As you’ll notice, it’s a pretty extensive platform.  But ultimately, the idea is that your website is a hub of information that creates an inbound flow of leads and potential customers.

It’s worth noting that many of the tools included in the Hubspot platform can be found online in an “a la carte” fashion.  For instance, you can use the free Google Analytics to analyze your website traffic or the Google Keyword Tool to evaluate keyword volume and optimize your website.  You can also use WordPress for blogging and content management … and most folks are familiar with Constant Contact or MailChimp for email marketing.

But what Hubspot has done is consolidate many of these important tools onto a single platform (and added some proprietary functionality and a user-friendly interface along the way).

Why Has Inbound Marketing Become So Important?

The world of marketing and advertising has completely changed over the last several years.  Or maybe a better way to put it and perhaps more relevant to the ERP and technology providers we work with is this:

The way people research, evaluate, and buy products and services has changed.  This is particularly true for “big ticket” items like ERP software – solutions that are complex, require quite a bit of education before purchase, and come with a long evaluation cycle.

When prospects are looking to solve a challenge, they go straight to the internet and perform their own self-guided research.  And if you aren’t one of the companies providing them with valuable information to help that research along, you probably won’t end up on their list of vendors to contact when they feel educated and ready to engage.

On the other hand if you do provide information (blog posts, eBooks, other website content) that helps prospects become more informed, they now know that you’re an expert on the topic (like technology or ERP software) by the time they’re done reading all your content.

And they’re more likely to do business with you when it’s time to take action.

Inbound Marketing is Nothing New

While the term inbound marketing has recently become popular, the concept of attracting customers (rather than hunting them down) with educational content has been around for a long time.  It’s something that we at Juice Marketing having been referring to as content marketing for a very long time.

In fact, we wrote about Content Marketing in a short white paper that we published years ago called: 5 Reasons You Need Great Content and How it Attracts Prospects

Content marketing is a strategy that pulls prospects to your business with quality articles, blogs, case studies, white papers, tips and tricks, videos, and other content that demonstrates how your technology solutions (or whatever you’re selling) solve business challenges.

Whether you call it inbound marketing, content marketing, pull marketing, or something else, here’s the key:

YOU NEED GREAT CONTENT TO PULL IT OFF

Content is the Magnet … it creates the inbound flow of traffic to your website or brand.  Without insightful content that helps prospects understand how you apply technology to address business challenges, you’ve got no pull.

Teaching sells … educate prospects in a way that satisfies their need for information while, at the same time, demonstrates your unique experience and qualifications for solving those business challenges.

The Idea is to Pull, Not Push

Ultimately, inbound marketing is like farming and outbound marketing is like hunting.

When you hunt, you set your target and seek the big kill.  Once your supply is exhausted, you gear up and get ready to hunt again, hoping to find your next meal.

On the other hand, farming is a slower process of growing and cultivating that can eventually pay off with a nice harvest and enough food that’s consistent and sustainable.

At the end of the day, the way people evaluate and buy products has changed significantly.

Prospects are totally unreceptive to cold calls, interruptions, and mass ads. Those tactics are expensive and ineffective.

Today’s marketing is about developing great content and helping yourself get found by potential customers that are actively shopping for information and solutions.  That’s inbound marketing.

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