Inbound vs. outbound marketing, and why you should care
Most things can be divided in two. There are extroverts and introverts, givers and takers, Democrats and Republicans, salt and pepper, offense and defense, sheep and goats, etc., etc. All of computing is ultimately ones and zeros. I’m not a black-and-white thinker, but it is useful to divide things in this binary way and then dig more deeply. Today I’m going to give you two more categories: inbound and outbound marketing.
Let’s start with the conclusion first and work backward. The reason you should care about inbound marketing is that it is way more lucrative than outbound marketing. Let me qualify: if your business category is one in which prospects come looking for you, the first investment of your marketing attention and money should be spent on making sure they can find you.
Not only is inbound marketing more lucrative, it results in quicker revenue. Get this right, and you can hear your phone ringing in a week or two.
What is inbound marketing? Fifteen years ago, it was the Yellow Pages. It was so essential for many businesses that the phone book had a virtual monopoly and incredible pricing power. The space got muddied a bit with competing books, but they still enjoyed a shared monopoly and great revenues.
Inbound marketing is also your location and signage if you are retail. If you’re in the mall or Mayfaire, you get business by being in the right place, looking sharp, and having people walk in.
The point here is that people are coming to you – inbound. They either have a need and they found you in the phone book back in the day, or they were out and about and had a desire (hunger, boredom, curiosity) and stopped into your location.
Now the predominant form of inbound marketing is Google. Another 15% to 20% of search is Bing/Yahoo, but Google has at least 65% of all online searches in the U.S. by anyone’s statistics. The Yellow Pages has been replaced, which I wrote about recently.
If a significant amount of search volume exists for what you do – that is, if people generally come looking for a provider in your profession when they need one – you need to make sure you are available and attractive to that seeker.
What does this mean? It means that your business must appear on a Google search engine results page (SERP). A family has moved into town and needs a dentist. Mom seeks out a provider. She asks the friends she’s met, colleagues at work, gets a flyer in the mail from a local dentist (increasingly seen in dental marketing these days) or, highly likely, she searches Google on her laptop or phone.
If you’re a dentist or in charge of marketing for one, here is a “common sense” way to determine whether there is likely to be search volume. Does it make sense that someone would do it this way? What would you do? Better yet, what would your grown children do?
Another common sense approach: search your own category. Count the number of ads on the page, and notice whether these include local competitors. If there are 1-3 at the top and another 3 or more down the right side, there’s probably substantial search volume.
Here’s one more: You just know. If you run a heating and air company, you know that a lot of people don’t have “their guy” until the AC stops working. Then they go looking – they call a friend or do a Google search. The same is likely true of plumbers (the toilet is stopped up), auto mechanics, traffic attorneys (I got a speeding ticket), personal injury attorneys (someone hit me) and so on.
I started with common-sense metrics because they’re free, and they move you quickly to the next branch on your decision tree (a binary concept if ever there was one). But there are more rigorous ways to check search volume. If you’re technically inclined, search “measuring search volume” on Google. You’ll find some of Google’s own tools as well as tools from others. You’ll also discover that Google doesn’t make this proprietary data easy to come by. The best way to get accurate numbers is to open and fund an AdWords account. You can do this on your own or hire a professional firm such as WordwrightWeb. It will cost you some time or some money, but you’ll get the details necessary to see if the battle is worth fighting and be able to win it if it is.
I’ll get more into the details of what is happening on a Google SERP in future articles. These results pages are the key to you being available to those who are looking for you. I’ll also look at “being attractive” – you getting picked instead of your competitor. And I’ll talk about outbound marketing. You need both. Inbound marketing is by no means the only thing, but for many businesses – possibly yours – it’s the first thing.
At WordwrightWeb, we are continually looking to help our clients get the most out of their website and their entire online presence. If you have any questions about what you’ve just read, please do not hesitate to give us a call at 910-338-5802. We can help in a variety of ways and are always willing to sit down and talk about your specific options. You can also get in touch with us by filling out our contact form.