Data is everywhere, and each of us is a goldmine of it just waiting to be harnessed. Whether it’s Instagram, ASOS or even the GPS on your phone, your data is being collected all the time – and with all this data floating around, you can see how it made people think, ‘hey, can’t we use this to our advantage?’ and eventually they did. Data is used to control what you see, what you’re recommended and even which route you follow on a map, making many experiences much more personal and tailored. However, using data in this kind of way hasn’t always been obvious.
One of the traditional marketing methods was outbound marketing, or interruption marketing, where you would promote your product or service through continued advertising, promotions, public relations and sales – e.g. door-to-door salesman or cold calling. This type of advertising pushes itself at its audience, whether they like it or not, hoping for the best outcome. Clickthrough rates for display ads, a form of outbound marketing, sits at a shocking 0.05%, according to HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017, and with the rise of ad blocking expected to cost companies $2.12 billion in revenue in 2020, according to Statista, outbound marketing may not have long left.
Potential customers now have more information at their fingertips than ever before – for example, if a customer has a bad experience, they’re likely to share that experience online and with their friends, and how often do you focus on reading the good reviews first? It’s easy to see how this can be detrimental to a business’ performance and forcing your brand onto your audience in the form of outbound marketing, would probably result in quite a lot of frustrated customers who aren’t getting exactly what they want.
So what alternative can Inbound marketing offer?
This all brings us onto inbound marketing, also called content marketing, which focuses around bringing in prospective customers using interesting content, with the customer experience at the centre of everything the business does. Inbound marketing is an indirect approach, utilising SEO, paid discovery, and paid search to help people find their content – usually you can’t even tell you’re being given a sales pitch. Inbound is split into three stages: attract, engage, and delight – with the aim of organic natural growth through customer satisfaction at the centre.
Once a customer begins to interact with your business, whether that be through one of your blogs or even a chatbot on your website, you now have a relationship with that customer which can be built upon as you learn more about them through their interactions. Once you have enough information, you can tailor your approach to each of your customers to ensure they’re getting the best possible experience. You can do this through a customer relationship management tool – or CRM – such as the one provided by HubSpot, which helps you keep track of your interactions with your prospective customer, all the way from their first interaction to closing a sale and beyond. And with business reputation being so important, every customer matters, as they all have their own reach – both online and in-person – to be able to spread both good and bad about your company.
As more companies turn to data as a marketing tool, inbound marketing seems the most logical approach, it’s able to utilise customer information and give you the best chance at providing a consistently excellent experience for every prospective customer. The future of inbound marketing looks bright with 71% of companies, surveyed in HubSpot’s State of Inbound 2017, reporting that they are primarily focused on inbound, and it’s no wonder with inbound marketing techniques costing around 62% less than outbound, but will more businesses continue to make the switch? As inbound marketing finds new ways to improve customer experience – whether that be through conversational AI, data tracking or customer service – it’s undeniable that its popularity will continue to grow too.