The African Lion sleeps for 16 to 20 hours per day. This leaves, at most, eight hours per day for the 420-pound behemoth to get the nutrients necessary to sustain its lifestyle and status as the “king of the grasslands.” The key component to leading a lifestyle such as this: efficiency.
Digital brands need this same level of efficiency if they are to survive in today’s continuously changing digital world that is rife with disruption. One area where digital brands have been shifting strategies to gain efficiencies in recent years has been marketing. In a world that was once dominated by outbound marketing tactics like cold calling, mass emails, and trade shows, 74% of marketers now identify inbound marketing as their primary approach to marketing. In order to understand the power and efficiency of inbound marketing, let’s go back to our carnivorous comrades in Africa.
In a study conducted in a savanna of Zimbabwe, scientists used GPS devices to track Lion movements over the span of three years. A key finding reveals a very strong preference demonstrated for hunting within 2 kilometers of a watering hole in all seasons. For digital brands, inbound marketing is all about creating their own version of a watering hole. However, unlike the predatory exploits made by Lions, digital brands are creating these watering holes to connect with potential customers on a deeper level while giving them more space in the sales process. By doing this, digital brands are unlocking the dynamic duo of efficiency in business: reaching more people while expending fewer resources.
What inbound marketing looks like for a digital brand
For digital brands, a watering hole is anything that provides value to a potential customer. It could be a blog, podcast, eNewsletter, whitepaper, eBook, etc.. Ideally, potential customers and customers alike will come to your watering hole regularly for your latest content on topics such as how they can improve their job performance or adapt to the latest trends in their industry.
Runner’s World is a digital brand that publishes a magazine, offers a premium digital content subscription, and hosts its own online retail shop. A watering hole they utilize is their blog.
Runner’s World publishes information on its blog that any runner would consider interesting and helpful, including this article about virtual road races taking place during the pandemic. By posting this article across social media channels, Runner’s World can funnel people interested in running to its blog, and simultaneously position opportunities for these visitors to engage with its brand further, whether it be subscribing to its eNewsletter, magazine, or paid subscription service, or stopping by its shop to get a new pair of shoes.
Whole Foods Market has set up a watering hole on its website in the form of recipes.
By having influencers post pictures and links to their recipes on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, Whole Foods Market can direct visitors to its blog, and then from there they can easily direct those visitors to their email subscription form to get more useful info, a Prime Delivery, or their nearest brick & mortar location.
Salesforce shares industry expertise on their branded blog, The 360 Blog.
By targeting relevant industry keywords, Salesforce can optimize their search results in Google, and drive traffic to its articles. From these articles, Salesforce can direct visitors is email subscription form that delivers its blog’s latest content each week. Beyond that, visitors have opportunities to learn more about Salesforce products and even start a free trial.
There are a lot of ways inbound marketing can play out, but they all follow the same general flow:
- Set up resources for potential customer to glean benefit from
- Attract visitors through Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, and influencers
- Nurture these leads with email and free trials
- Close deals
By setting up a mechanism that can attract, digital brands are unlocking efficiencies that these traditional marketing cannot provide.
How inbound marketing is outpacing outbound marketing
There are two key efficiencies that inbound marketing creates in comparison to outbound marketing. Inbound marketing allows digital brands to reach more people while expending fewer resources.
Reaching more people
Hubspot conducted a study with customers and compared leads from the most recent month with leads from two months ago for six consecutive months. The results show that blogging businesses, whether or not they used the Hubspot platform, experienced 165% lead growth, a much larger increase than that of non-blogging businesses, which experienced 74% lead growth.
Using fewer resources
In an industry survey, Hubspot also found that inbounds leads costed 61% less to close than traditional outbound leads. And if you think about it, this makes perfect sense. When potential customers are coming to your site on their own volition to access the valuable resources you are providing, they are also self-selecting themselves as someone who is in the arena that your digital brand services, and also probably someone who is looking for some help.
The idea of attracting a targeted group of potential customers to you is so much more intuitive than pushing your products or services out to the masses and seeing where they stick. Think back to the African Lion. While it could hunt by roaming the savanna and chasing down anything that moves to try to feed itself, it is allocating its time and energy much more efficiently by finding a nice, shady spot in the brush around a watering hole and allowing its next meal to approach it.
And while the African Lion torments the animals that visit watering holes, digital brands with watering holes are doing the opposite; and their customers appreciate it. In fact, more than 70% of consumers say they prefer to learn about a product or service through content rather than traditional advertising. At the end of the day, customers are looking for two things when making important buying decisions: helpful information and space. Inbound marketing offers both of these, and brands that are practicing it are reaping the benefits.
What are your thoughts on inbound marketing? Are there any strong inbound marketing initiatives you’ve come across that have helped direct you to resources you’ve benefited from?