Monday, 23 June 2014

Inbound Marketing - is it affecting you?

Just as you think you are getting to grips with the vagaries of your clients – including their marketing departments – you suddenly start getting new requests in new projects and radical changes wanted in older projects. It’s hard to adjust to the pace of change for all aspects of iMedia design let alone tune in to how digital communication is changing the way people interact with information. Once people’s behaviour changes, you can bet that marketing will home in on that and devise different strategies to attract potential clients’ attention.

That’s what inbound marketing is all about. It’s a reaction to people’s changing behaviour patterns particularly when they use social media channels. What’s more, marketing devises strategies and analytics to show that they are having better success than before with people’s behaviour. So not only do you have to change the style of interaction (interface and look and feel), but you have to check results in a way that your clients want and create reports for them. All these add to your time and cost of development. It’ll help if you understand what is driving your own clients to do this. A good intro to the concepts and stats of inbound marketing can be found at: Outsourced Marketing blog 22 May 2014, How B2B Inbound Marketing Compares With Outbound.

You just need to know a couple of basics. Outbound marketing tries to influence potential customers through face-to-face interaction, adverts, press, news stories etc. They are the more traditional approaches. Inbound marketing is more subtle. It doesn’t try to blatantly sell a service or product. It informs the potential customer about the service or product, it shows reactions from people who have used these, it makes sure more detailed information is available and ratified when a person is ready to probe for more, it builds the confidence in the brand and its online presence and waits for the person to be ready to buy. These changes in tactics line up better with the online behaviour of people who don’t want to have a hard sell approach. They can opt out of that easily online ... and do.

This is why content becomes so important. It is being used to influence a conversion process from fact-finding research ... to customer ... then to loyal customer. It reflects the journey a person makes from general search to trusting a company. The person is at a distance, so the interaction is different. Sites that reflect this journey approach can be seen at Discerning Digital, where they define the process as
  1. Attract
  2. Convert
  3. Close
  4. Delight
Mogility (28 May 2014) also reflects this conversion process based on customer satisfaction with every experience of the digital environment.

High quality content that is refreshed and kept current helps the conversion process, according to Parker-Wilks Marketing, and trustemedia.

Yes, it still is all about generating leads but in a different way. Julie Topka, 9 April 2014 in TME Marketing, cites 7 steps to the perfect marketing plan, that includes inbound marketing. Interestingly she encourages you to focus on prospects not customers although you have to have built quite a strong understanding of the niche of potential customers as your first task. Again, the good quality and applicability of the content features strongly.

Hopefully this intro to inbound marketing will allow you to better understand where some of the requests from your clients originate. Your clients, in turn, will build a better trust with you if you demonstrate understanding. Perhaps we can all learn from this inbound strategy?!

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