Friday, September 2, 2011

Inbound Marketing

Authors:     Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah
Published:  2010
Publisher:  John Wiley and Sons
Hardcover: 250 Pages
Buy from Flipkart

The traditional way of marketing is Outbound Marketing where the businesses bombard the prospects with promotional brochures, TV advertisements,  spam mails, telemarketing calls and so on. The authors are of the opinion that  the prospects have become smart enough to avoid such interruptions and get the information they need through online searches. In this book they propose Inbound Marketing as a solution to this problem. Inbound Marketing is all about the businesses creating an effective online presence which results in their "getting found"  by the prospects (vs searching for prospects) through online searches and social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn etc.
The book consists of  four parts.
Part I - Inbound Marketing
This part stresses the need for matching the way one markets the product with the way the prospects learn about and shop for that product. This can be done through inbound marketing. First and foremost the website of the business must change its marketing mode from a one-way sales message to a collaborative hub for its  marketplace. 
They should  focus on creating communities outside of their web site for people to connect with them and others within the community. 
This “outside” focus will drive people back to the website of the business. 
This involves adding some collaborative tools like a blog and creating lots of compelling content (not  overt sales pitches) which people want to consume. 
This should be followed by creating a presence in  Google,industry blogs, and social media sites. 
Through internet one can  reach many more prospects and much more quickly as compared to traditional mode of communication. 
To take advantage of such a reach and speed, one should think beyond the competitors and create alternatives to conventional marketing. 
Also one should strive to offer the best product/service within the market.

Part II - Get Found by the Prospects
This part offers umpteen number of  useful ideas, tips, tools and techniques for creating a remarkable content and getting discovered in blogosphere, in Google through Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and in social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon and YouTube.

Part III - Converting Customers
Visitors drawn to the business website need to be converted into leads by encouraging them through some compelling call-to-action to further engage with the business.
Good calls-to-action  involves giving them helpful and useful information to enable them to do their job better or improve their job prospects. 
This can be asking them to register or subscribe for free Webinars, White papers or reports, short consultation sessions, demos, or trial offer etc.
This part also talks about  various ways of nurturing the leads to convert them into customers.

Part IV - Make Better Decisions
Better marketing investment decisions can be made using the Marketing Funnel technique introduced in this part  to define various levels - prospect, lead, opportunity, and customers - and measuring the conversion rates to  calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) of various marketing channels. 
This part also advises the reader on how to hire  marketing staff  and PR agencies for inbound marketing.
Tools to keep tabs on the competition are also dealt in this part.

Finally the book concludes by reinforcing that age of inbound marketing has dawned and the days of outbound marketing are over. 
However inbound marketing requires commitment, patience and continuous learning. The benefits will be slow in coming initially but the floodgates will be opened once the tipping point is reached.

The book consists of 16 short chapters written in a very simple and easy to understand language, illustrated with several real life examples. In every chapter there are recommended measurements to track the progress in inbound marketing journey.
The chapters also have short case studies in inbound marketing. 
These case studies covered  include - the presidential campaign of Barack Obama, the music group The Grateful Dead, Wikipedia, and Google.

As a bonus there is a fairly comprehensive list of 26 Inbound Marketing tips for the Startups.
Overall a very good introduction to Inbound Marketing..

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