PLEASE! Explain Why I Should Use Inbound Marketing?

Posted on Aug 5, 2012 by Kerry O'Malley

Inbound Marketing Pulls Visitors to Your Website


With many industrial companies just recently opening up to the opportunities that Inbound (or Digital) Marketing has to offer, there is a lot of confusion about how it works; how it can help them; and where to start.  It’s easy to understand the confusion.  Most business owners who aren’t SMM, SEO and other digital acronym savvy, realize that they probably need some help in this area and many reach out to an ever growing number of marketing firms that specialize in web development and digital marketing tactics.  Not only do they make it all sound like a foreign language, they push the idea that if a company doesn’t immediately drop all forms of traditional marketing and sink their entire marketing budget into Digital, they must be crazy.  So what, as an industrial marketer, are you to do?  With limited marketing spend and incomplete knowledge of the digital landscape, why should you risk switching from the tried and true to the new, and “experimental?”

This is the first in a series of posts in which I will explain Inbound Marketing for the industrial company in a non-techy way that even the most uninitiated (and anti-social media) can understand.  Hopefully, by the end of the series, you’ll not only understand what Inbound Marketing is, you’ll see why it makes sense to begin adopting it into your overall marketing mix, and you’ll have a basic approach for how to implement it.

Sometimes I find it easier to explain what something IS by first explaining what it is NOT.  Obviously, Inbound Marketing is NOT Outbound Marketing.  OK, but what is Outbound Marketing?  Outbound Marketing tactics are all the traditional marketing methods that industrial companies have always used:

[list style=”circle”]

  • Websites
  • Print (or online) ads
  • Editorial or articles in trade publications
  • Trade shows
  • Listings in trade related directories
  • Direct mail
  • Marketing literature
  • Cold calling[/list]These are the main ones, of course there are others.  The reason they are called “outbound” marketing is that:[list style=”circle”]
  • They are created or initiated within your organization or marketing agency
  • They contain messaging you “think” your target customers need to hear
  • They are chosen based on where you “think” your target customers will be (what magazines they read, trade shows they attend, directories they refer to, etc.)
  • They are pushed “out” of your organization: hence, “outbound”[/list]

The main Inbound Marketing tactics for industrial companies are:[list style=”circle”]

  • Blogs
  • Content marketing (technical and white papers, video, animations, illustrations)
  • Ongoing on and off-site search engine optimization (SEO)Social media marketing (SMM) – the Big Five are LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+
  • Email marketing with dedicated landing pages
  • Webinars
  • Metrics analysis and reporting[/list]

I’m sure you noticed that “website” falls under both the inbound and outbound categories.  That is because there are websites – and then there are WEBSITES.

The website referred to under outbound marketing tactics is really no more than an online brochure.  It tells what your company does, has a contact page, maybe even a news page (that probably hasn’t been updated in a year); but that’s about it. There is no new content being added to the site on a regular basis; no way for visitors to engage or interact on the site; no clear calls to action; and no way to convert visitors to the site into leads.

In an Inbound Marketing strategy, the WEBSITE is the star of attraction; a hub for all of your inbound marketing tactics; a search engine magnet; a dynamic, ever changing, constantly evolving repository for all of the expertise and knowledge maintained within your company that is presented to visitors as CONTENT; a “destination” that customers and prospects will return to because they will find answers to their questions and problems. That kind of website is absolutely necessary to an Inbound Marketing strategy’s success.

By now it may be clear why “inbound marketing” tactics are called “inbound.” Every tactic in your Inbound Marketing strategy is intended to drive qualified traffic (visitors) inbound: to your fully optimized website, where you will hopefully convince potential customers to pick up the phone and call or email you.  The goal of Inbound Marketing is to help people FIND YOU, based on what they are looking at or searching for on the Internet.

Unlike the “my way or the highway” digital marketing firms, I will not tell you to drop all traditional marketing and embrace only digital.  As an industrial marketer, I get that there is a lot of brand recognition and credibility to be gained from running ads and technical articles in well-respected trade journals. I know there are some trade shows that are so engrained in your industry’s history and culture that your absence would be conspicuous. If you have a highly qualified prospect database that is mainly addresses without emails, by all means, do some direct mail.  There IS a way to integrate traditional with digital.  However, keep in the back of your mind that digital will be the marketing of the future. You have a window of opportunity in which you can make the transition to Inbound Marketing and gain a valuable competitive advantage.

In the following posts in this series, I will cover each of the Inbound Marketing tactics listed above, explain how they all work together to drive results, and help you decide on the best approach for execution whether you’re a manufacturer or industrial service company.

Author: Kerry O'Malley

Marketects was founded in 1999 by Kerry O’Malley, a proven marketing communications professional in international, manufacturing companies. Working on the “other side of the desk,” she hired ad agencies to manage her employers’ advertising and P/R programs. Frustrated over the lack of attention and level of enthusiasm she was looking for in the marketing agencies she worked with, Kerry realized that there was a definite need for a full-service marketing firm that specialized in working with industrial companies. She resolved that her clients would always receive the highest level of service possible and never feel like the last kid chosen for the team.

2 responses to “PLEASE! Explain Why I Should Use Inbound Marketing?”

  1. Janet Benaquisto says:

    I know this reflects the popular thinking of the day however I constantly struggle with the way inbound vs outbound are defined. If the reason they are called “outbound” marketing is that:
    1. They are created or initiated within your organization or marketing agency
    2. They contain messaging you “think” your target customers need to hear
    3. They are chosen based on where you “think” your target customers will be (what magazines they read, trade shows they attend, directories they refer to, etc.)
    4. They are pushed “out” of your organization: hence, “outbound”

    Then isn’t my LinkedIn page Outbound by that definition? It was initiated by me, contains what I think my prospects want and placed where I thought my prospects would be. By the same token, why can’t an article in a well read trade journal be Inbound as they also lead prospects to your firm? The difference is one is digital and the other is print. The journal article might actually carry more weight as it had to pass editorinal review. Also, I would have put email marketing under the outbound tactics list since I am actively sending OUT information. Perhaps it belongs on both lists?

    I agree with your bottom line, what ever works for your business keep doing it while you explore new digital methods to be ready for the future.

  2. Kerry O'Malley says:

    Thanks for your comments, Janet … you make some good points.

    I think is the true difference between “inbound” and “outbound” marketing is this: Everything that happens as a result of what is considered “inbound marketing” is completely measurable and quantifiable, which gives the marketer valuable insight into what their customers and prospects REALLY want to hear.

    Metrics and the adjustments that are made as a result of studying them are what gives the marketer the opportunity to craft messages and offerings that are more specific to a certain group of prospects, or to focus more on messaging that seems to be more important to their target audience.

    This is not possible in outbound marketing tactics. An article in a trade journal can be great for brand recognition and credibility; but you will never get any insight into the preferences and needs of your potential customers with this tactic – or any other outbound marketing tactic.

    And yes … email marketing DOES belong on both lists. It is all in the approach: is it executed as an inbound tactic with analytics in place, or simply thrown to the wind?

    If you would like to learn MUCH more about Inbound Marketing for industrial companies, I invite you to register for IMRevo: an Industrial, Inbound Marketing Seminar that Marketects is sponsoring in Houston, 1/31/13. Here is a link to the registration page:

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