3 Reasons Businesses are Flocking to Inbound Marketing

I was recently talking to a small business owner about how to drive more prospects to her site. "Are you doing any Inbound Marketing?" I asked.

(Sound of crickets accompanied by deer-in-headlights look.)

"What exactly is that?" she finally responded.

Those of us in the marketing world know by now the difference between Inbound and Outbound Marketing, but there are still many business leaders who do not.

Hubspot defines Inbound Marketing as a "set of marketing strategies and techniques focusing on pulling relevant prospects and customers toward a business and its products." Think blogs, white papers, case studies, SEO and social media. These are tools used to "pull" customers to your business.

Outbound Marketing - or Traditional Marketing - focuses on sending company messages and advertising at consumers. Think trade shows, direct mail and telemarketing. These techniques are designed to "push" the business at your customers.

In the battle for marketing budget dollars, Inbound Marketing is clearly "pulling" away. Businesses that know the difference are flocking in droves to the Inbound Marketing side.

There are three main reasons why according to Hubspot's 2012 State of Inbound Marketing report.

1. Inbound Marketing is more cost effective.

According to the report, which surveyed 972 professional marketers, the average cost of an Inbound Marketing lead was $135 - almost a third of the cost of an Outbound Marketing lead which was $346.

2. Inbound Marketing generates better leads

Leads from Inbound Marketing  - blogs, whitepapers, SEO - are five times more likely to close than leads garnered through traditional marketing tools. Only about 2% of Outbound Marketing collected leads actually close.

3. Inbound Marketing lands customers

62% of the survey respondents reported they acquired a new customer through LinkedIn. 57% credited their blog. 52% said Facebook and 44% said Twitter.

In the last six months, more than a third of the respondents rated Inbound Marketing as "more important" while a third ranked Outbound Marketing as "less important." That is blatantly reflected in their spending as 89% of respondents say they increased their Inbound Marketing budget last year.

What are you doing with your marketing strategy? Are you "pushing" or "pulling?


Content is Still King: 5 SEO Experts Speak

In 1992, James Carville, a key advisor to presidential candidate Bill Clinton, came up with a memorable slogan for the campaign: It’s the economy, stupid. As the battle rages over how best to incorporate Search Engine Optimization (SEO) into website copywriting, more and more SEO experts are returning to a basic idea that can be similarly summed up: It’s the content, stupid.

The “stupid,” is probably harsh, but there is no doubt that the SEO discussion is shifting from a focus on “technology” to an emphasis on “content.”

Here is what five SEO experts have to say on the subject.

Paul Boag (@boagworld) co-founder of Headscape from his Smashing Magazine article,  “The Inconvenient Truth about SEO.”

- “We shouldn’t be optimizing for search engines at all. We should be optimizing content for people.”

- “Your primary objective should be better content, not higher rankings.”

- “In short, write useful content.”

He suggests you do this through white papers, blogs, research findings, case studies, user generated content and interviews among other things.

Gisele Navarro Mendez (@giselenmendez), Upstream Connections’ Social Community Manager in her In Social We Trust post  “The SEO Way of Thinking Needs to Go.”

- “Instead of building links, try building relationships.”

- “People don’t care about SERPs or the way Google works. They will click on the links they want, but if you have failed at delivering good content /products /services /support, they will leave your site and never look back.”

- “People will find your site if there’s a network of happy customers supporting your business.”

Jonathan Gebauer (@jobebauer), founder Explore B2B in B2B’s article, “Debunking SEO: Jonathan Gebauer.”

- “Good SEO is natural SEO.”

- “Provide strong, engaging content that people are interested to read.”

- “Focus on being an entertaining and reliable content provider.”

Lisa Barone (@LisaBarone), VP of Strategy at Overit in B2B’s article  “Debunking SEO: Lisa Barone”

- “Shift away from creating ‘unique content’ to ‘purposeful content.”

- “Content has always had the crown, but now it’s got the respect to go with it.”

- “Focus on the right party – customers, not the search engines.”

Melissa Fach (@SEOAware), CEO of SEO Aware and Managing Editor of Search Engine Journal in B2B’s article “Debunking SEO: Melissa Fach.”

“You cannot be successful without content and SEO combined. I know there are those that get a site at the top of page one with crappy content, but they have nothing in place for conversion and/or maintaining a solid audience. So even if you get to #1, without the right content, you fail anyway.”

What do you think? Technology or Content? How best to reach your prospect base?