Inbound Marketing: The Future of Your Marketing Strategy
A candidate recently asked me what it is like to speak with interactive marketers all day. And while I don’t only work with interactive/digital/online marketers, I do spend most of my time in conversations with them, and it got me thinking about the differences between a traditional vs. digital marketer.
If you are a traditional marketer and want to move more into the digital realm, what are some basic ideas you can use to begin to make yourself more attractive for future opportunities and help your company become more profitable?
As I wrote about in one of my first blog posts several months ago, technology has forever changed the way marketers interact with consumers and/or businesses. This, of course, isn’t a news flash to most. Technology has enabled marketers to reach customers faster, more targeted, and sometimes with a smaller budget. I’ll define digital platforms as: social media, mobile apps, mobile-optimized websites, blogs, and interactive in-store kiosks. There are many others, but for simplicity sake, let’s leave it at that.
So, what do you do if you aren’t forging down this path (you have a website that was last updated in 2008, your main mode of communication is via brochures and direct mail, etc.)?
1. Shift from short-term campaign thinking to relationship building.
The traditional marketer is used to driving sales growth and creating campaigns which move customers to purchase. The digital landscape, however, focuses on building relationships with future customers. Just think about social media – your prospects will likely check out your Facebook page, ask their friends via Twitter, or give your product a good/bad review online as a way of providing valuable feedback to others in their network. This is why so many companies (and great digital marketing candidates) talk to me about their content management efforts such as videos, contests, product reviews, community outreach efforts, Q&A, and many other efforts that allow potential customers to experience and sample a product or service before they buy.
I’m not saying you need to go out and learn HTML tomorrow, but having a pulse on all of the possible ways your target audience will touch your brand online and offline will allow your marketing team, and yourself, to think about the entire ecosystem that is your customer lifecycle and/or lead generation funnel. For more ideas of how to turn your marketing efforts into a lead generation machine, check out this article.
2. Forget the silos.
In the past, you may have had creative, attention-getting campaigns independent of other corporate departments, but did you know that your customer service reps and salesforce might have the best ideas for your next marketing campaign? Customer service and sales can offer you feedback, ideas, and insight about what your customers really want. They touch the customer on a daily basis, and as you transition to a more digitally-focused marketing department, transparency and communication across various departments will become critical. Forget the silos and start opening the lines of communication.
3) Switch from Outbound Marketing to Inbound Marketing.
Outbound Marketing, defined by its insistence on bombarding consumers with messages through print, radio and television advertisements, as well as those annoying telemarketing and spam email messages, are not only costly, but are simply no longer effective. By contrast, Inbound Marketing is relevant to each segment of your target market. As content is fed through sites like Twitter, Facebook, and news aggregators, your news can reach even more potential customers. Inbound Marketing also involves search engine optimization and search engine marketing as consumers seek to clarify or gather information before they make a purchase. Want to be found via a search on Google? You’d better have a great online marketing partner or in-house experts who can help you launch and maintain a successful online marketing strategy.
4) Be prepared for mobile and beyond.
The Gartner Group estimates that the mobile application industry will reap $15 billion by 2015. With the need to be where the consumer is, marketing will be charged with the responsibility of not only creating content, but formatting it to meet the mobile platform. Have you checked how long it takes your site to load on your mobile device lately? Try it – because this is reality: 74% of consumers will wait (only) 5 seconds for a web page to load on their mobile device before abandoning the site. Want to continue to stay relevant in today’s hyper-competitive world? If so, your product should be able to be purchased online. Can you prevent the following scenario from happening to you? 39% of the time a consumer walks out of a store without buying, that decision has been influenced by a smart phones.
No matter your career background, the kind of company you work for, or what your title is, we should all ask ourselves how we can take advantage of the technology and data that online marketing provides. Who knows, you might just get yourself a raise (and make your company some money) in the process!
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