Jean-Marie Bonthous, Seamless Social
“The new tools of social marketing, combined with the death of the TV industrial complex have completely changed the rules and created opportunities for everyone to make an impact”. Seth Godin.
As consumers have increasingly turned their attention to the Internet and the global online marketplace, the success of traditional marketing strategies such as cold calling, TV commercials, trade shows and print advertising has seen a rapid decline. Conversely, there has been a corresponding shift toward using inbound marketing techniques as a viable way to generate leads and ultimately increase revenue.
Inbound marketing is a new, web-enabled way to get found by people on the web. Based on Seth Godin’s earlier concept of permission-based marketing, the term inbound marketing was first coined by Brian Halligan from HubSpot. It centers on the delivery of anticipated and relevant messages to an audience that actually wants to get them. The practice takes SEO, content strategy, social media participation and conversion rate optimization; wrapping them up into a comprehensive suite of marketing techniques that serve to nurture lead generation.
Inbound marketing is a powerful approach to attract visitors to your web site, and to convert visitors into leads.
Inbound Marketing Techniques
Successful inbound marketing strategies ignores the practice of interruption marketing and instead focuses on helping customers find a product or service by providing value. Popular techniques include:
- Organic search engine optimization and pay-per-click management
- Maintaining an optimized blog and/or site, preferably using a content management system
- Social media participation on several platforms including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
- Content marketing including white papers, eBooks and webinars
- Branding, PR and generally offering a consistent message
While inbound marketing helps you generate leads, it is demanding, as it is fueled by content. You will need to create content that sells. And you will need a lot of content.
The Benefits of Inbound Marketing
- Cost Savings: Inbound marketing offers a low cost strategy for lead generation. The 2012 State of Inbound Marketing, a report from HubSpot, found that the average cost per lead for organizations focused on inbound marketing techniques was 61% lower than the costs faced by outbound-marketing organizations. That’s a significant cost saving for tech startups with limited budgets.
- Promotes Customer Engagement: Increasingly, consumers expect to interact with brands on social media platforms. The Power of Like, a 2011 report from comScore, discusses the importance of a branded presence on Facebook. The report found that branded content was up to 150 times more likely to be consumed in the Newsfeed feature as opposed to the fan page. With tech startups in particular, there will be a certain level of expectation from consumers that there will be a strong social media presence and consistent interaction.
- Efficient Use of Resources: The nature of inbound marketing makes it incredibly easy to track results through several programs that analyze performance. In turn, this means that startups can focus their marketing resources to generate the maximum return on investment. If a particular technique is found to be underperforming, it’s easy for startups to identify why this is occurring and tweak the approach accordingly.
- Improved Leads: Mashable featured an infographic from Voltier Digital that provided some favorable statistics in relation to lead generation, reporting that 57% of customers have acquired a new customer from their blog. The figures are equally impressive on other channels with 67% and 42% of companies having acquired a customer through Facebook and Twitter respectively. Also worth noting is that lead generation through these various interactive platforms result in a higher conversion rate because the leads are already warm.
Effective Marketing for Tech Startups
It’s clear that inbound marketing represents a strategy that savvy startups can’t afford to ignore. The tried and tested tactics associated with this marketing technique have provided a clear road map to success with none of the pitfalls associated with traditional and costly outbound strategies. The trend toward content marketing, social media participation and the resulting benefits is something that technology startups should be keen to take advantage of.
However inbound marketing is not enough. It needs to be complemented with outbound marketing and corporate communications.