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Sookie Shuen

Sep 21, 2011

Inbound Marketing: Moving From a Push to a Pull


the rise of generation yUp to now, the theory and strategy of pull marketing has been inaccessible to many businesses, due to the cost and complexity of putting such an approach to effective use. But with the emergence of new channels and tools, it is becoming the emerging trend in successful marketing for business today.

Change is the only constant

We’re all aware that the internet phenomenon has changed the way people buy forever. For example, 78% of internet users now go online first to research the products or services they’re thinking about buying (Source: Hubspot Marketing). The search engines - and search engine optimisation - are themselves diversifying all the time. With the growth of social media, audiences are increasingly fragmented across marketing channels. The ‘push’ tactics of TV and print advertising, email newsletters and other approaches are losing their impact on markets and business revenue.

When push comes to shove

On their own, the familiar tools are no longer keeping up with changes in buyer behaviour, whether it’s email marketing (91% of email users have unsubscribed from a company email they previously opted into (Source: ExactTarget) or online advertising (84% of 25-34 year olds have left a favourite website because of what they perceive to be intrusive or irrelevant advertising. Source: Hubspot Marketing).

Even relatively new tools and technologies aren’t exempt from the growing resistance to ‘push’ marketing. A recent YouGov survey found that 79% of people surveyed believe that mobile adverts are intrusive, with 88% of people saying they actively ignore adverts in applications.

All this, even before we’ve considered the increasing pressure on businesses to reduce and streamline marketing budgets.

From intrusion to attraction

New ‘pull’ approaches overturn the resistance of audiences by creating an ongoing relationship with them. This approach harnesses the power of the web and capitalises on the changes that have taken place in the search engines over the last year, as it’s all about relevant, high quality and frequent content. Upending conventional tactics, pull marketing applies the momentum of attraction to create leads and revenue. It takes the familiar outbound marketing tools and uses them in a way that matches today’s changing buyer and market behaviour, such as using email to nurture relationships, rather than finding new ones. This strategy acknowledges the important fact that the world has grown simultaneously larger and smaller - people have more and more choice, but want to feel part of niche online communities.

An integrated pull approach

With so many tools in the market, it can be confusing to decide which to use and which have the best chance of success, as we all know that an integrated approach gives the best chances of success. Many thought leading professionals are adapting their approach to follow what has been best practice for years in the manufacturing industry - driving continuous improvement through a structured business process.

These methods of continuous improvement focus on defining the process and objectives, measuring all activity, analysing root causes or areas of improvement, improving or changing the tactics, then putting a control loop in to ensure action is taken on the opportunities and repeating the process. This can be highly effectively when applied to the marketing process.

But you can only achieve it with the right technology capability, so what are the tools to use? Take a look at the options below:

technology tools information table resized 600

So once you have the tools in place, what do you need to do?

The answer is to create a cohesive, repeatable approach that follows five steps:

inbound marketing approach resized 600

Listen - Apply both traditional and new marketing tools to connect with customers, instead of interrupting them. Use the right technology and tools to measure sentiment, analyse markets and monitor keywords to gain current insight into the market demand for a product or service. Tools include Hootsuite and Hubspot.

Create - Take a strategic approach to content to cover a whole range of channels, with white papers, video and animation and other high value content.

Engage - Take the content and build communications around it to provide conversation, connection and content, using platforms like LinkedIn, FaceBook, Boagworld and DigitalDoughnut.

Transform - Use behaviour-driven communication and lead nurturing to turn an audience into leads, nurturing them through a structured process, to match their buying process rather than an external selling process.

Grow - Gain deeper insight through behaviour-driven communication to analyse where leads are coming from and to consistently update content and strategy to reflect this.

Starting at the end

With so many challenges and opportunities, the question has to be - What will you be doing in the future? What will you be doing three, four or ten years down the line? At what point do you start to adapt your tactics?

Things have changed. Now there’s a different approach that connects the diverse tools and technology and generates buyers and revenue in a consistent, coherent fashion.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that as something of a revolution.

Article by Alistair Norman, Marketing Director, Tomorrow People. Follow his tweets on @AlistairNorman

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