Inbound marketing is the newest marketing buzz-phrase, but what exactly does it mean? Let’s look first at traditional marketing, which consists of purchasing email lists and ads, making calls, sending mass emails, and direct mail. While these certainly can work, this is more of an outbound strategy—where the organization is pushing their message out to potential customers and members. Inbound marketing, instead, is the practice of enticing prospects by providing valuable, interesting content throughout multiple channels. This multi-channel approach allows you to reach people where they are…where they prefer to interact with you. Taking this one step further, you can change your offers and content depending on the prospect and where they are in your marketing/sales lifecycle, basically segmenting and targeting your communications by behavior.
Marketing platforms such as Hubspot, Eloqua, Marketo, and Act-On are available to help organize, manage, and analyze the inbound marketing process. These platforms allow all data to be easily shared between systems, and reside in one place—data and systems such as AMS, webinars, video, event registration, and surveys, analytics, emails, landing pages, for example. These platforms can also assist with marketing automation, but what does that really mean?
Marketing automation refers to the process of marketing that pretty much runs itself. Once the prospect is fed into the machine, they automatically receive content and additional contacts based on their response (or lack of) to a previous communication. That process continues as they move through the prospect lifecycle to hopefully customer or member. Although the marketing is automated, there needs to be a process in place. You will need to dedicate a lot of time to making it work—if you don’t feed the machine the content, it dies. A few things you should do before considering marketing automation are:
Let’s not eliminate print. Inbound marketing, when combined with some traditional elements such as direct mail and phone calls, casts a wide net to your prospects, letting them know in their preferred way, why they need you. Communicate that and you can’t go wrong.