Inbound Marketing Definition
As a follow up to my What is Inbound Marketing blog, I feel it is important to offer my personal definition for inbound marketing as well as provide my opinion on a few grey areas. While there are a number of popularized inbound marketing definitions, mine is as follows:
“Inbound marketing is the execution of a soft sell strategy and lead generation process that concentrates on gaining customer conversions through the strategic presentation of relevant, educational, and influential content that a consumer is able to locate on their own volition.” Andrew Bart, Founder & EVP of Digital Strategy at Pop Results
Inbound Marketing Means – Customers Are Searching For You
My definition of inbound marketing means that customers are searching the Internet and the social sphere for information on a specific topic related to a product or service offering. If your company sells that product or service, you can reach out and attempt to locate those customers through traditional marketing methods like cold calling and advertising or you can flood the Internet and social sphere with expert information that creates a trust factor between you and the potential customer. The former is outbound marketing and the latter is inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing relies on your optimized content being available to the customer as an answer to their question when they need it most. Your information establishes a relationship between you and the customer and paints the picture of your company as being a trusted authority in the space. The inbound marketing content guides the customer through an education process and ultimately drives them to a point of sale or deeper into a sales lead funnel. At the end of the day, inbound marketing means less time spent on cold outreach and more time for you to focus more resources on what you do best – customer fulfillment.
Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing – Paid Media vs Push Selling
More often than not, inbound marketing definitions allude to entirely earned media and they do not recognize paid search or paid social as inbound marketing tactics. The inbound marketing vs outbound marketing paid media argument differs based on the belief as to whether or not buying media is an outward motion or push selling tactic. Personally, I believe that paid search and paid social accomplish an identical goal of organic inbound marketing results that lead a customer to the same or similar destination pages with content that solves immediate problems for the customer. Unlike magazine advertising or random banner advertisements which are clearly outbound marketing tactics that push sell, paid search and paid social is not pushing a message randomly or on a macro industry level.
For example, if a customer conducted a search on “Best Cell Phone Plans,” T-Mobile displays as a top paid search result as well as a top organic search result. The destination pages for both type of search results present helpful information on T-Mobile cell phone plans that serve as inbound marketing avenues that aim to soft sell the customer on T-Mobile as being the best cell phone plan on the market. In my opinion, these are nearly identical inbound marketing tactic. The only difference between the two is that one was paid for by the company and the other was organically achieved.
Inbound Marketing a Definition of Long Term Success
No matter how you define inbound marketing, there is no debating the fact that it is a solution for long term business success. The more relevant, optimized content that you distribute, the more your business will show up in the search engines and on social media platforms. Using inbound marketing tools and software to help distribute and measure the successes of your content, you can continue to build your reputation, your clientele, and your strategic stream of ongoing messaging. Over the long run, your company can saturate the search results and gain significant ownership of the flow of information in key areas of consumer visibility.