Inbound Marketing is Not a Channel or a Technology, it’s a Strategy

As consumers we have become transfixed on constant product innovation and a steady stream of device upgrades. This pattern has trained us to focus on the technology and lose sight of the purpose for these devices and remarkable power that they grant us. Seriously- you have more computing power in your pocket than a top of the line computer lab had only a few years ago. This technology blindness not only plagues the modern consumer, but influences online marketers. With the endless selection of marketing widgets claiming to engage customers, boost ROI, and deliver more leads, marketers can also fall victim to technology blindness and focus too much on the technology of marketing applications.

Inbound marketing is not a channel or a technology, it’s a strategy. Successful inbound marketers focus on crafting well thought-out strategies designed to attract high quality leads and nurture them through the customer lifecycle. The applications that successful marketers use are simply the tool kit that helps them get their message into the appropriate channels and measure results. The technology would be worthless without a well executed inbound marketing strategy.

When we start working with clients to develop inbound marketing strategies we always start with the simplest resources: pen and paper. Limiting ourselves to these simple resources allows us to focus on what really matters – understanding the clients business objectives, identifying their buyer personas, the marketing triggers that cause people to search for their product or service, and crafting content designed to attract and nurture leads through the customer lifecycle. Once we have identified these critical components we then begin to think about the technology required to put the strategy into action.

Inbound marketing is not paint by numbers and you can’t simply check off all of the different boxes and expect that your strategy will be successful. Every business has very different requirements. Marketers that are focused on the technical capabilities of marketing applications often try and do everything and use every last widget within the application. This approach most often causes marketers to over-invest in channels with poor ROI and lose focus on what’s really providing business results.

One of the early stages in developing a results driven inbound marketing strategy is identifying and understanding your buyer personas—including the communication channels your customers’ prefer both online and off. For some organizations, Twitter is a gold mine of leads. For others, Twitter is a much less valuable channel. We often talk to organizations that are present on almost every social media channel imaginable, but haven’t seen any real business impact as a result of their social media efforts. In most cases the problem lies in poor planning. Organizations simply haven’t identified any clear business objectives that they hope to accomplish with social media. Signing up for a Twitter account and posting a few self-serving messages isn’t going to get you very far.

Successful inbound marketers continuously measure which channels are providing the best ROI along with which channels are under performing, adjusting their strategy accordingly. Marketing is increasing digital, data driven, and agile. To remain competitive in today’s marketplace marketers need to have a solid understanding of the tools at their disposal, but don’t be fooled—technology is not a competitive advantage in and of itself.

Want to learn more about how inbound marketing can help grow your business?

Download our Executive’s Guide to Inbound Marketing. This educational whitepaper examines how inbound marketing methodology is changing the way businesses attract new customers. Learn how successful marketers are using inbound marketing methodology to attract highly qualified sales leads, increase sales conversions, close more deals, and delight their customers.

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