Inbound marketing is no longer a totally new concept, already in the late 2000s Lusch and Vargo (2009) discussed that with the rise of a network economy, customers were part of an extended enterprise and co-producers of the firm’s marketing.
In both inbound and outbound marketing, enterprises embraced a goods-dominant logic, where the focus was on efficiently producing units of output usually far removed from the customer.
Lusch and Vargo (2009) considered that this logic produced a conflict because the firm was viewed as the active source of expertise and knowledge which was used to develop innovative and creative marketing offerings that were produced in the factory. This way, the firm and the factory were seen as the source of value. The customer was seen as passive, external to value creation, but could be encouraged to purchase and consume the firm’s product.
Marketing practice and theory had an inflection point and began to change. Customers and supply chain partners started being viewed as a part to value creation and as a source of expertise and knowledge from which the enterprise could and should benefit.
Thus, explain Lusch and Vargo (2009), the enterprise and the customer were no longer seen as separate but rather as an integrated economic system. Both the customer and the firm were co-creating by sensing and experiencing together, integrating resources for individual and collective benefit, and learning how to better serve each other.
Years have passed and time has proven Lusch and Vargo’s ideas were right. McDonald’s and Heinz are inviting customers to help design their advertising programs, and Lego has created a digital design factory where customers can design new products. The amount of examples of companies that embraced this new method are endless.
But what is inbound marketing really about?
It responds to this new reality in which customers are interacting with brands. Inbound marketing is based on three pillars: content marketing, SEO and social media marketing.
As Fach (2012) explains, inbound marketing is the process of helping potential customers find your company, often before they are even looking to make a purchase, then turning that early awareness into brand preference and into leads and revenue.
As reported by Jutkowitz (2014), content marketing and brand publishing has unfolded rapidly because it responds to consumer preference. According to the Content Marketing Institute (2015), 70% of people would rather learn about a company via an article than an advert. Even The New York Times (2014) admits that brand publishing allows companies to react in real time, provide increased transparency, and creates a strong brand identity at a fraction of the price of traditional marketing tactics.
A report by Harvard Business Review (2014) states that the exponential growth of social media offers organizations the chance to join a conversation with millions of customers around the world every day.
According to Hubspot’s latest ‘State of Inbound’ report (2015), three out of four marketers across the globe prioritise an inbound approach to marketing.
Wiles’ research (2015) proved that inbound had a 75% likelihood of being the marketing approach of choice, while outbound had only a 25% chance. This 3:1 ratio remained consistent across all company types: B2B, B2C, and nonprofit.
In terms of revenue, the reason why most companies prefer the inbound approach is simple: every company Wiles (2015) surveyed was three times as likely to see a higher ROI on inbound marketing campaigns.
The whole world is in on inbound. The global community is united in favour of inbound practices. In all five international regions, says Wiles (2015), a 3:1 ratio emerged between those who considered their organization inbound-driven.
Newlands (2014) recommends that a deep understanding of inbound marketing best practices is vital to the growth and success of your business. No matter how busy you are, you simply can’t ignore the importance of marketing your brand effectively.
CONTENT MARKETING INSTITUTE (2014) What is content marketing. [Online] Available from: http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/what-is-content-marketing/
FACH, S. (2012) Inbound Marketing: Some Tips & Stats. Search Engine Journal. [Online] 27th March. Available from: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/inbound-marketing-some-tips-stats-via-slideshare-infographic/41891/
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW (2014) The New Conversation: Taking Social Media from Talk to Action. [Online] Available from: https://hbr.org/resources/pdfs/tools/16203_HBR_SAS%20Report_webview.pdf
JUTKOWITZ, A. (2014). The Content Marketing Revolution. Harvard Business Review. [Online] 1st July. Available from: https://hbr.org/2014/07/the-content-marketing-revolution
LUSCH, R., VARGO, S. (2009) Service-dominant logic – a guiding framework for inbound marketing. Marketing Review St Gallen. [Online] 17th December. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/225492895_Service-dominant_logic_-_a_guiding_framework_for_inbound_marketing
NEWLANDS, M. (2014) The 8 Fundamentals for a Successful Inbound-Marketing Strategy. Entrepreneur [Online] 5th September. Available from: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/237040
TADENA, N. (2014) NYT Readers Spend Same Amount of Time on Paid Posts as News Stories. The Wall Street Journal. [Online] 14th May. Available from: http://blogs.wsj.com/cmo/2014/05/14/nyt-readers-spend-same-amount-of-time-on-paid-posts-as-news-stories/
WILES, A. (2015) State of Inbound Marketing. State of Inbound 2015. [Online] Available from: http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/53/State_of_Inbound_15.pdf?t=1454109558572&__hstc=119451734.5eb42dd7527c28fd22354ea965abaf39.1454153394230.1454153394230.1454153394230.1&__hssc=119451734.2.1454153394230&__hsfp=1416232467