Evolving Trends in Marketing - Outbound and Inbound Marketing
Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 1082
, Published on 10 December 2015
Marketing is the evergreen go- to solution for any manager to increase the revenue from his product or services. Although from time to time the modes of marketing have evolved, the importance of marketing for a firm to sell its product and services remains consistently high. Books on marketing define it as “identifying the needs of consumer, developing products/services to satisfy those needs and promoting/advertising these developed products to consumer”. Hence, a marketer has to understand consumer insights; design products based on those insights and then go back to the consumer to promote those products.
Although the first two steps remain somewhat constant through time, it is the third factor of promoting/advertising is what which constantly evolves. The main reason for this evolution can be attributed to the rise of digital media, which is transforming the way in which marketers promote their product. The traditional banners/flexes are being replaced by Google banners and advertisements, which are the banners of the digital space. Earlier, marketers used conventional television as the main medium for promoting their products and services using advertisements. But recently this trend has been subjected to serious reconsideration and companies are investing heavily in social mediums like YouTube to reach their target audience. It is this new trend that this article is trying to analyze.
In the new digital age, customers are empowered with tons of data on their fingertips through mobile and social media. Users search through ratings and feedbacks of products before buying and it is in this exploration phase the importance of marketing comes into picture. It is imperative for any marketer to present his product when the customer searches to satisfy his needs and desires on internet or mobile. The Massachusetts based Hub Spot Inc. terms this new marketing technique as “Inbound marketing”. According to them, inbound marketing refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in, rather than marketers having to go out to get prospects' attention. Simply inbound marketing means being at the right place, at the right time.
Companies have to make sure that they are able to present their products/services to customers when they want those products. In this new terminology, the traditional way of customers finding the right product suitable for them is termed as outbound marketing. In Outbound marketing, company is the initiator contrary to inbound marketing where customer is the initiator. According to most marketing managers, the main issues they are facing with outbound marketing are tracking the return on investment and increased presence of ad blocker softwares.
Based on a survey done on marketing managers about inbound marketing, CRM Daily cites that “nearly half of the companies that implement inbound marketing efforts see a 25 percent greater return on investment (ROI) on those programs than companies that do not”. The survey also found that inbound marketing channels can deliver up to 30 times the campaign conversion rate of traditional outbound direct-mail campaigns. They even say that inbound marketing is easier to track, has a higher ROI, and lower overall costs than outbound marketing. The easier tracking is achieved by the new digital analytics techniques offered by companies like Google which help marketing companies to track the conversion rate of customers. Also, the conventional method of calculating cost for each displayed advertisement has been replaced by pay per click, pay by conversion mechanisms which increase the ROI for companies. Hence marketing managers are tempted to cut their costs and increase conversions by shifting from outbound marketing to inbound marketing.
Hubspot Inc. defines inbound marketing as a four step process. The first step involves attracting the customers to your website or making them know about your product. Marketers use techniques like blogging and social media publishing for this attraction. Inbound marketing techniques makes sure through these techniques that customers are presented with product details when they search for those. Blogging presents a new platform for marketers to write about the specifics and advantages of the products. Social media has been another revelation of the past decade with people spending chunk of their time in platforms like Facebook, Twitter interacting with friends presenting vast avenues of opportunities for marketers. The major impetus for this trend can be the increasing usage of internet and mobile phones, which in turn raises the opportunity of inbound marketing. The widespread use of mobile phones and mobile internet connectivity also allows marketers to perform the traditional outbound marketing by catering their promotions to specific segments and provide information based on the browsing pattern of the users. This provides marketers with a better-informed tool for their Segmentation – Targeting – positioning exercise.
Once a user has been attracted towards a particular product or service, the second task of a marketer is to make sure that the customer is provided with a delightful experience and thirdly he ends up buying the product. In digital marketing terms, marketer has to generate leads by gathering customer information. For generating leads, inbound marketing uses methods like user information forms, landing page customization, call to action buttons etc. These methods tempt the user to provide his information and explore more about the product, providing the chance for the marketer to close the action. Once the leads are generated, the next step is to make sure that the customer ends up buying the products; meaning the process of buying is closed. Closing encompasses a wider aspect which includes converting the customer into a long term loyalist and building engagements with the customer. For this, inbound marketing proposes methods like customer relationship management (CRM), which helps marketers to get in touch with customers at the right time, and Email marketing, which allows personalized messages to customers, is used. As part of building a long-term relationship and continued engagement, marketers have to make sure that customers are kept have a joyful experience. The fourth step of Delight aims at this function. Inbound companies continue to engage with, delight, and upsell their current customer base into happy promoters of the organizations and products they love. They use techniques like surveys, social monitoring and push messages to maintain this engagement. Post consumption surveys also helps companies to capture customer insights about the product they have consumed and their feedback and opinions about the product. These details can be used for development of products and deliver results based on customer needs, which keeps the customer delight and engagement intact.
Although inbound marketing is the way forward for companies, it should be combined with outbound marketing for proper customer penetration and engagement. The traditional marketing techniques of TV, Radio and print advertising along with digital techniques of social media marketing and email marketing will make sure that customers are informed about the company’s portfolio and increases brand awareness among them. The inbound marketing comes into play when the customer decides to purchase an item and it makes sure that the product is visible to the customer to consider.it has techniques to make sure that once the customer finds the product how that interaction can be converted into a long term engagement and relationship. So, an effective marketing campaign should include the combination of outbound marketing as well as inbound marketing. It is up to the discretion of the marketing manager to design this marketing mix taking into consideration the campaign’s priorities and end results.
This article has been authored by Prince Shaji from Indian Institute of Foreign Trade
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