In a world full of clutter and overactive screen time, the average American is exposed to 61 minutes of TV ads and promotions, says NYTimes writer Brain Stelter (8 Hours a Day Spent on Screens, Study Finds). With exposure to all of these messages, how is the average consumer expected to break through the clutter and find the good stuff? Well, according to Marketo, it’s not the consumer’s job. The Internet has forever changed the consumer- they are now in control and are self-educated. And the consumer has forever changed the Internet. The term Web 2.0 means that world wide websites now move beyond static and are used in entirely new ways. Does this mean that marketers should abandon all that they know? No more commercials, billboards, radio, direct mail and trade-shows?! *gasp* Don’t worry Don Draper fans, Marketo says not exactly. It takes a well executed and integrated inbound and outbound marketing plan to see greater results. It is impossible for one to succeed without the other and if employed properly, together they can make all the difference.
Let’s back up a bit… So traditional media, or outbound marketing, is often what I consider to be the advertising that interrupts my daily life. Commercials are interrupting my favorite episode of Modern Family, radio ads are interfering with my jam session and I’m always clicking out of banners on a website. This is where inbound marketing comes in. Instead of interrupting prospective customers, we (marketers) are able to get on the good side of customers when their anti-marketing shields aren’t up. So what exactly is inbound marketing? In the article titled Amplify Your Impact: How to multiply the effects of your Inbound Marketing Program, Marketo defines inbound marketing as:
“The process of helping potential customers find your company- often before they’re looking to make a purchase- and then turning that early awareness into brand preference and ultimately into leads and revenue”
When I read this, I’m thinking, sweet, what an incredible opportunity for a business to connect with prospective customers on a more personal level. And once more, the business doesn’t have to do all of the work. That’s right, the consumer is able to contribute and add to the entire process too! This ecosystem of mutually reliant parts is truly a disruptive innovation.
Instead of talking at our customers all the time, let’s pull them into the business. Sounds like brand preference and loyalty building to me (thank you marketing 101). This idea of action and collaboration is something that Hubspot is doing really well. Hubspot currently offers
software systems that help companies execute inbound marketing. According to Hubspot in their article Hubspot: Inbound Marketing and Web 2.0, it’s all about active engagement and content. It’s really easy to do inbound marketing poorly. You add keywords, tags, wave your magic wand and suddenly…. customers! No way, it’s so much more than that. Customers aren’t going to search the reaches of the web for you, it’s the responsibility of the business to increase search engine optimization (SEO). What does SEO mean anyway? Creating traffic for your business by analyzing your keywords and their effectiveness in developing organic searches is just one step in the process. Once there, content needs to attract customers, get them to speak your language and engage their interests.
One thing about Hubspot that sets them apart is their ability to ofter a turnkey product and the additional support need for specific businesses. What a small business needs from Hubspot is completely different than inbound marketing for a large corporation. When I was creating a website for Garys’ Mens and Women’s Wear, I knew the power of the platform. Essentially I had the ability to fundamentally change a business that knew nothing of inbound marketing other than email and a few Facebook posts. Blogs are content published by a business, yet have an incredibly personal feel. When I read a blog, I laugh with the writer and feel as if I know the business. This effective relationship with an entity is something that isn’t quite achieved from a radio ad. I also find myself constantly seeking out reviews and feedback from other customers. We are living in an age of connection and community solely through the web. There is something I can trust about the review written by your average stay-at-home-dad who has tested the product more so than a company alone.
Now that we’ve looked at the power, limitations and innovation that inbound marketing has to ofter, I’d like to take a moment to recognize a few companies doing this really well.
Wild Friends is a nut butter company based in Portland, OR that originally started out of the dorm room of two University of Oregon students. After making an appearance and gaining funding from Shark Tank, this company took off. Not only am I intrinsically motivated to post about Wild Friends because I know the brother of one of the founders, but I also have a crazy obsession with peanut butter. Aside from this, they do a killer job at gaining the interest and loyalty of peanut butter fanatics like me. On their website they have content like “Our Story” where you can hear about their “American dream” style growth and general information about their product. One of my favorite aspects of the page is the recipe section. Not only does every recipe contain their product (which you must buy to bake the mouthwatering treats), but you also have the opportunity to post about your trial. On social media they post several contests that require individuals to use their butters in a creative way, take a photo of their creation, share and have a chance to win more product. The ultimate involvement level.
This quirky shoe company is easy to find, but most hear of it initially through word-of-mouth. They provide an alternative to going to a brick and mortar store to get a new pair of shoes. Shoes are one of the most difficult clothing items to buy online and the process is easy because their content is spot on. From watching videos of each shoe being presented by a Zappos employee to reading reviews, it’s hard to go wrong. Ultimate shopping experience made easy.
GoPro is a genius when it comes to inbound marketing. Their slogan is “Capture + Share your world” or in other words “Use our product + give us free PR and add to our coolness factor”. Whether you’re a skier bro “shredding some major pow”, a badass deep sea diver or just a guy hugging a lion buddy, GoPro wants you to capture it and then share it with the GoPro community. Some just go to their website or Instagram to watch the beautiful shots and others try to compete in their contests. They have one promotion that encourages customers to record something awesome and share it with the GoPro name in the hope of winning coupons for their other products. Extremely content rich marketing outreach sets GoPro apart.
What are these three companies doing? Inbound marketing. And I dub it “smarketing”.