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Marketing is an exciting industry that has seen massive changes during its digital revolution. Less than 20 years ago, SEO and pay per click where basically unheard of, while today they make the foundations of any successful online campaign.
Through this digital evolution of marketing, many new strategies, buzzwords and technology have been born. One of those new strategies and buzzwords is inbound marketing.
You might have already heard of the term before, but what is inbound marketing and why has it recently become so popular?
This relatively new marketing concept has transformed many businesses in recent years, turning them into industry leaders and gigantic companies with little effort.
Compared to traditional marketing efforts, inbound marketing is often more effective (and cheaper!). But that’s just one of the many benefits of this new popular strategy.
To fully show you the power and effectiveness of inbound marketing, we’ll have to take a closer look at some examples and how other companies use it.
By the end of this article, not only will you understand what inbound marketing is, but you’ll also have all the necessary details to make your own strategy. To get things started, let’s take a look at the history of inbound marketing and where the name came from.
The term inbound marketing can be traced back to the mid-2000s when digital marketing really started to take off. It was the CEO and co-founder of HubSpot, Brian Halligan that initially coined the term with his partner and colleagues.
It was around this time that Brian noticed the shift in marketing that the internet was bringing to the industry. Instead of marketers attempting to find customers via billboards, cold-calling and printed leaflets (known as “outbound marketing”). He discovered that utilising digital marketing methods such as SEO and PPC to attract users searching for an answer resulted in higher quality and cheaper conversions.
This change in the customer’s journey and behaviour was down to the internet and the new doors it opened to marketers. The change allowed marketers to target different customers depending on what stage of the buying cycle they were in. A brand new customer starting their journey will often need different information compared to a customer at the end of the journey. Moreover, the best way to do this is by utilising different digital marketing strategies to make sure you can reach them all.
Compare this to traditional “outbound marketing”, inbound marketing is designed to attract and draw in visitors rather than promote a brand, product or service in the hope that someone converts. It’s this difference in the approach which has made inbound marketing become so popular.
To summarise what we’ve learned so far, inbound marketing can be defined as:
“The process of attracting, converting, closing and delighting customers using various types of content at different stages of the buying cycle.”
Now you’ve got a good idea of what inbound marketing is, how does it compare to outbound marketing?
Well, to be honest, the differences are super obvious. Trying to force your product or service in front of customers is quickly becoming a thing of the past. People can skip TV ads by using the likes of on-demand services such as Netflix and BBC iPlayer, while users can also skip radio ads by using streaming platforms such as Spotify.
Online banner ads and popups are also quickly becoming a thing of the past thanks to the growing trend in adblockers. Just like sales emails that also end up in your spam folder.
As you can see, the times are changing, and people just don’t like having products and services forced in their faces anymore. It’s not to say that it’s completely redundant yet, but if inbound marketing is much more effective than outbound marketing, then shouldn’t you be investing your money in the better strategy?
To give you an idea of the differences between the two, here are some of the major points where the strategies differ.
|Outbound Marketing||Inbound Marketing|
|Focuses on directly advertising a product or service.||Focuses on grabbing the attention of the target audience.|
|Usually in the form of intrusive banner ads, sales emails and TV ads.||Primarily uses non-intrusive methods where users opt-in e.g. organic content marketing, newsletters, YouTube videos.|
|Often frowned upon by users as “spam” or unnecessary ads.||Loved by users as the content regularly delivers helpful and informative information.|
|Makes a user hate or dislike a brand for annoying ads.||Makes a user love a brand for their helpful and free information.|
|The ad campaign rare seeks to entertain or educate their audience.||The ad campaign is all about entertaining and providing value to leave a lasting impression.|
With that being said, it’s probably time to dive deeper into some inbound marketing strategies to help you truly understand how the strategy works.
As we’ve previously mentioned, inbound marketing utilizes many different forms of digital marketing to grab the attention of users. The hope is that once you’ve got that user’s attention, you’ll be able to impress them which will put you in their good books and build a good relationship.
Later on, the user will hopefully end up converting and buying your product or service after being impressed by your marketing and content. We say “hopefully” because not every business gets the execution phase correct.
To give you an idea of some inbound marketing examples, here are some popular strategies companies use to grab the attention of users and turn them into prospects.
With social media being bigger than ever, as a business, it’s almost impossible to escape it. Whether you’re selling directly to customers or other businesses, there are plenty of social media networks out there that can be used to attract new clients.
Making sure you have a professional and well maintained social media presence is crucial in this day and age. Not only are social media profiles an excellent way for you to advertise your business and products, but it can also be used to share content and interact with potential customers.
A great example of using social media to promote your brand and product is by the teeth whitening company HiSmile Teeth. Their Facebook page is an excellent example of inbound marketing done right. Notice how they take the time to reply to almost every single comment on their posts with witty and humorous responses thus building a positive relationship with their audience.
Online blogging has been around for what seems an eternity, but it’s only recently that companies and businesses have started to take advantage of the trend. At some point, you’ve probably read someone’s blog on Tumblr, Blogspot or the countless other blogging platforms. Compared to traditional publication methods such as press releases, white papers, and articles, blogs allow business to communicate with their users in a much less formal setting.
Many businesses out there have fantastic blogs that are made specifically for their target audiences. By continually producing high-quality blog posts that are both relevant and relatable to their customers, businesses can build a treasure cove of information for customers to take advantage of.
If a user does end up landing on a blog after finding them on Google and discovers countless informative articles, then this will only leave a positive impression on that user. Not only will they remember the businesses name, but will also most likely share it with their colleague and friends. It’s this power of sharing and “viral content” that makes inbound marketing so powerful.
A great example of using a blog for inbound marketing would have to be our own. We don’t usually blow our own trumpet (apart from when talking about our click fraud detection service) but our blog brings in tens of thousands of targeted users every month. Each blog posts contains a wealth of free information users can take advantage of, leaving them with a positive and lasting impression of our brand.
In addition to using a blog as a way to convey information in an informal manner, infographics can also do the same thing – just quicker. Instead of the user having to read through a 2,000-word article, an infographic takes all the essential information and compresses it into an easy to read format.
The beauty of infographics is that they are designed to be visually appealing and shareable. When an infographic goes viral on the likes on Pinterest or other 3rd party blog posts, the infographic represents your business and gives a positive impression to readers.
An excellent example of a company that uses infographics correctly is WordStream. When making their infographics then ensure they only contain the essential information that is relevant to the user — no unnecessary waffle or blabbering. They also create visually appealing graphs and charts that instantly grab the attention of the user making them want to read more. Finally, they also do a good job of sharing and promoting their work via social media and other 3rd part blogs. The chances are you’ll encounter their infographics on other websites just as much as you do on theirs.
eBooks are another great way in which businesses can take advantage of inbound marketing. Offering free eBooks to visitors on industry topics and subjects is a great way to capture an individuals attention and leave a lasting impression. Similar to infographics, eBook can also be shared via social media, emails and through external blogs.
A company who uses eBooks incredibly well to their advantage has to be the founders of inbound marketing: Hubspot. By offering out eBooks for free in exchange for your details, this gives them some very high-quality prospects to chase. The ultimate goal behind this strategy is to convert as many prospects as possible into paying customers. Although we don’t have the exact conversion rate for their strategy, we’d still guess it’s a pretty high number!
Compared to the other examples of inbound marketing listed in this list, webinars are one of the newest. Also known as “live streams” these presentations usually involve an authoritative figure doing a presentation on a specific topic that the viewers will find interesting. They also include tips, tricks, and advice on the subject while also mentioning their service or product.
The benefit of holding a webinar compared to other forms of marketing is the fact that the business can interact with viewers by answering questions. As a viewer, you can get a lot of value from these presentations and feel like the company is giving information away for “free”. In the long term, this only gives your business a positive image and reputation.
If you’re looking for a company that knows how to take advantage of webinars, then look no further than Unbounce. Not only do they provide case studies and statistics on why webinars are a great marketing strategy, but they’ll also help you create your own. Be sure to sign up to their webinar to discover their marketing secrets.
To explore some real-life inbound marketing examples from the likes of Starbucks, Microsoft, and Autodesk, be sure to have a read of this.
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