Inbound marketing is a strategy used by companies to attract consumers, utilizing blogs, content publishing, content marketing, search engine optimization, and social media. This is different from outbound marketing, in which companies push their messages out to consumers using direct mail, telemarketing, and trade shows. One key advantage to inbound marketing for business is that it draws customers in by their own choice and offers high levels of engagement. Today’s consumers are inundated by outbound marketing tactics, which make them less effective as lead generation tools.

Inbound Marketing
In the eBook The 2012 State of Inbound Marketing from HubSpot, a survey of 972 professionals familiar with their organization’s marketing strategy showed that organizations which spent more than 50% of their marketing budgets on inbound channels such as content marketing achieved a significantly lower cost per lead than outbound-dominated organizations, at $135 vs. $346 per lead. Other survey findings corroborate the importance of inbound marketing for business going forward. Besides lower cost leads, organizations saw proven higher quality leads, proven customer acquisition, and a continued shift towards inbound channels. Of respondents, 89% said they are maintaining or increasing their inbound marketing budgets for 2012, with almost half of those who are increasing budgets citing past success as an explanation.

Smaller businesses reported a higher level of investment towards inbound marketing than large businesses, allocating over 40% of their 2012 marketing budgets to inbound channels. Many social media and content marketing platforms are accessible for free or at a very low cost, creating an obvious appeal for limited budgets. The report additionally showed that in a sample of 150 companies, inbound marketing for business had real results: SEO leads had a 14.6% close rate while outbound-sourced leads had a 1.7% close rate.

Companies are increasingly using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and company blogs for customer acquisition. Blogging is particularly effective for companies in technology, communications & media, retail & wholesale, education, and professional services & consulting, with over 50% of companies in these industries reporting successful customer acquisition via this channel. Blogging and content marketing allow businesses to share relevant and timely information, new research, articles, and dialogues to maintain top-of-mind awareness with consumers and search engines.The 2012 State of Inbound Marketing report showed the frequency of blogging is directly tied to customer acquisition: 92% of blog users who posted multiple posts per day reported new customer acquisition, while only 56% of blog users who posted once a month gained new customers. This highlights the importance of not only having a blog in place, but frequently contributing to it to see successful content marketing results.

The effectiveness of inbound marketing for business has risen by nearly 10% across LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs from 2011 to 2012. With such successful trends, it comes as no surprise that 60% or more of the surveyed companies reported inbound marketing channels as useful, important, or critical to their business, with blogs at the top of the list. Today, the contemporary consumer takes on a much more active role in researching and engaging with business brands, and inbound marketing techniques take advantage of this shift—by appearing where they search. Facebook is shown to be especially effective for retail and wholesale companies, while LinkedIn is effective for B2B (business to business) customer acquisition.

Outbound marketing is undeniably losing ground to inbound marketing for business, with social media and content marketing taking a bigger slice of the pie. Trade shows and telemarketing were judged less important to marketing budget by close to 40% of surveyed respondents, and over 50% of the respondents judged direct mail to be less important in their company budgets for 2012. Outbound marketing’s decline comes as no surprise since it is often costly, labor-intensive, and time-consuming. Outbound channels require marketing collateral, telemarketers, trade show materials, consumer mailing lists, and more—all of which quickly eat away at marketing budgets. Inbound marketing, however, is low cost and immediate, with measurable results right away.

Companies say that the cost of a company blog is below value and yet one of the most critical inbound marketing channels available, alongside social media, SEO, and content marketing. Consumers are increasingly using social media and other inbound channels to learn more about businesses and their products, services, governing principles, mission statements, sales, and promotions on their preferred terms. With the low cost of inbound marketing tools, combined with their capacity to build relationships and interact with consumers in the places where they are already engaged, it is easy to see why these marketing strategies are rising in popularity. Some companies are more aggressive in their adoption of inbound channels, and they stand to reap more benefits, both in terms of profit and customers.

Wild Frog Studio is proud to implement Inbound marketing strategies on the HubSpot platform.