We’re a generation of skeptics. We’ve grown wary of advertising, expecting it to lie, exaggerate and over-sell products; promise us the world and then let us down. No advertising is complete with Terms and Conditions or fine print with its precursor asterisk warning us to take its claims with a pinch of salt. Recent research suggests consumer confidence in advertising is fading fast, with 25% admitting they usually don’t believe what they see.
It’s only natural that we now, by extension, doubt the effectiveness of marketing, especially digital marketing. Do people really click on the Pay-Per-Click ads? Are sponsored posts really worth the money?
New Strategies in Marketing
Today’s market is saturated; we are well and truly spoiled for choice. To draw in customers we need to have them trust us. They need to believe us when we say our product is good, our service is quality, that we can deliver on our promises. Advertising and marketing is not a one-way conversation anymore. The customer need to be engaged so that this connection can be built, and it’s from this we gain their trust. How many advertisements have you seen that end with some form of “Join the conversation on Facebook”? These marketers know it takes more to win a customer these days.
I don’t think I’m reaching when I say that an effective marketing campaign has the potential to generate a greater quality of customer than a traditional advertising campaign. Engaged customers are potentially more loyal, compared to customers whose interest is momentarily peaked by something that catches their eye.
It becomes a question of loyalty versus spontaneity. One is great in the short term, however the other is more valuable in the long term. The problem with spontaneity is if someone is swayed once, they can be swayed again just as easily.
Inbound Marketing at Work
So marketing has taken a new direction, specifically in the area of inbound marketing. One of the first blogs I ever wrote for SiliconCloud made the bold claim that inbound marketing, specifically content marketing was the new advertising. Allow me to illustrate my belief in that statement with a short, personal anecdote.
There is a certain brand of candle. It’s a French brand. Naturally it’s overpriced, over stylized and most probably overrated. A few months ago, if I had seen an ad for it I wouldn’t have given it much notice, if anything commenting, “No thanks, Ikea’s scented candles suit me just fine!” After all, it’s just a candle.
Since then I’ve seen this brand plastered across the dozens of beauty and lifestyle blogs I read in my spare time. Vloggers have candles lit in the background of their videos, I’ve read tutorials as to how to clean the jars for storing makeup brushes inside, there have been whole blog posts dedicated to a candle and how it smells, what it was like picking it out in the shop and let’s not forget the Eau de Perfume that goes with it. Now, it’s all I can think about. I have to have one.
Inbound Marketing is Already Working
This is inbound marketing at work. It gets in your head and works to influence behavior on a subconscious level. If it’s done well, you don’t ever realize you’re being marketed to. Whereas with advertising, it’s all too easy to spot.
It’s driven by content. It’s a longer process than an advertising campaign, but it’s just as, if not more, rewarding. Think of how much influence bloggers have in creating cult beauty products. How many restaurant choices are based on Yelp reviews. How many visitors have found your site because they typed something into Google. In fact 70% of US consumers name product recommendations as their most trusted form of advertising and 43% trust natural search engine results. You’ve just witnessed inbound marketing at work. It’s silent but deadly, if I may be so bold to say.
As far as the candle is concerned, I haven’t bought it yet but I have bought an obscene number of nail varnishes, mascaras and lipsticks. I have an ever-growing shopping list of makeup I’ve convinced myself I need. I blame the Internet.
Effective inbound marketing needs engaging content. How do you know if it’s engaging? Here are 20 Questions that will provide you with that answer.
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