The State of Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing graphicThe concept behind inbound marketing isn’t really new. Most businesses and organizations want to get the most out of their Websites and other Internet-related marketing efforts, to generate qualified leads. What inbound marketing does is put a name and philosophy to the disparate processes and methods used to acquire these leads.

A recent report from the company that provides us (and our clients) with a centralized inbound-marketing platform contains a lot of great information on how this method is not only working, but how it kicks the pants off of traditional “outbound marketing” (advertising, direct mail, cold calling, etc.).

In fact, inbound marketing is quite “presidential” … here’s why.

One of the best examples of effective inbound-marketing usage happened during the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama. His campaign used inbound marketing for not only the primary, but the general election. Considering he beat both Hillary Clinton and John McCain pretty handily, it’s safe to say that inbound marketing helped to propel the then-Senator Obama into the White House.

Here’s how Wikipedia sums up the Obama campaign strategy:

Initially, Obama had less funding and could not compete with Clinton’s e-mails, telemarketing, direct mail campaigns, and television and radio advertisements. Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, was hired as Obama’s Internet strategist … :

“The aim of our online campaign was to help individuals understand the values of Barack Obama and of our campaign and then to make it as easy as possible for them to actively engage with the campaign’s work. We tried to open as many direct channels of communication as possible—using e-mail, text messages, online networks—and then equip them with the tools to spread the campaign’s message using network technology such as My.BarackObama.com and Facebook.”

The Obama campaign’s inbound-marketing strategy included the now-de rigueur tools of inbound marketing: Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and video (YouTube). The strategy worked, too … after all, he’s now the main tenant at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

Keep in mind that his campaign used these methods three years ago. Since then, the state of inbound marketing since then has gotten even better and more solidified, as evidenced in a February 2011 study from our great partner HubSpot.

Here’s the study’s key takeaways:

 

  • Inbound marketing channels are maintaining their low-cost advantage: Inbound marketing-dominated organizations experience a cost per lead 62% lower than outbound marketing-dominated organizations.

 

  • The gap between spending on inbound vs. outbound continues to widen: In 2009, inbound marketing had a 9% greater share of the lead generation budget; in 2011 its share was 17% greater.

 

  • Blogs and social media channels are generating real customers: 57% of companies using blogs reported that they acquired customers from leads generated directly from their blog.

 

  • More and more business are blogging: Businesses are now in the minority if they do not blog. From 2009 to 2011 the percentage of businesses with a blog grew from 48% to 65%.
  • Businesses are increasingly aware their blog is highly valuable: 85% of businesses rated their company blogs as “useful,” “important” or “critical;” a whopping 27% rated their company blog as “critical” to their business.

An inbound marketing campaign, though, doesn’t give an organization any advantage if it doesn’t provide quality content and genuinely useful information, while at the same time developing relationships with individuals via blogs and social media.

Keep in mind that when it comes to cost, three out of four channels—blogging, social media and organic search—are less expensive than any outbound marketing channel. The only inbound channel ranked as “more expensive” by those surveyed is pay-per-click search, also called paid search.

As an aside, it’ll be interesting to see how President Obama’s 2010 re-election campaign uses inbound marketing. It worked once, and as we now know, it is still a proven way to attract qualified leads … and voters, too.

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