2015 has been yet another fruitful year for our almighty conquering overlords (aka technology, the Internet, and Google).
As of September 2015, we’ve gotten some major news in these realms, including but not limited to:
- Google’s self-driving car hits the road
- 3D printers and cloud computing are bigger than ever
- New technology in development can transform a cell phone into a high-powered microscope
- Studies show that mobile Internet usage has surpassed desktop usage
- Google’s algorithm changed to favor mobile-optimized sites on mobile searches
- The Internet of Things is now a widely-accepted concept in the constantly evolving online landscape
- The Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive are already competing on the virtual reality market
In short, technology and the Internet are strange and ever-changing. As a business owner, how do you keep up?
To start, you have to embrace the change.
But the Internet is turning our brains into mush! We’re becoming phone zombies, scrolling blankly through Facebook all day! We’re so antisocial, you don’t even have to call a person to order a pizza anymore, you just order it on a website!
We’re seeing a divide between the generations. Many older people are rejecting technology because it’s new, it’s unfamiliar, and it’s frustrating to operate. Younger generations are welcoming technological advances with open arms.
There are exceptions on both sides, but these are the trends on average.
No matter where you belong on the spectrum – whether you can use your laptop with one hand and your three smartphones with the other, or you moved to the Middle of Nowhere, Pennsylvania and purposefully forgot to install Internet and phone service – you must embrace technology for your business if you want to succeed.
Why do you HAVE to use technology for your business? Because that’s how you’re going to get customers. An overwhelming majority of consumers use the Internet to research a product before buying.
4 out of 5 consumers use smartphones to shop, and mobile users that find your business online have a 3x higher conversion rate. (Convince and Convert)
85% of consumers are searching for local businesses online. (ReachLocal)
78% of mobile searches for local business information result in a purchase. (Kissmetrics)
And it’s not just products – they can research the business, the owner, the practices, previous customer experiences, and more.
Businesses that don’t have this relevant information available (and it IS relevant to your customers) are less likely to attract buyers.
What Else Is the Internet Good for?
How about inbound marketing?
54% more leads are generated by inbound tactics than traditional paid marketing.
On average, companies save $20k per year by investing more in inbound marketing vs. outbound. (Hubspot)
Traditional marketing, on the other hand, is the kind we know and love hate – the kind that interrupts our favorite TV show with some guy shouting about laundry detergent, or that crashes into our peaceful morning commute with a different guy shouting about car dealerships.
Traditional interruption marketing is annoying at best. It’s also a pretty big waste of money, as you can see from the HubSpot statistics above.
If you’re not familiar with inbound marketing, it’s a fairly new marketing strategy that targets your best buyers when and where they’re already searching for you.
Studies show that inbound marketing is 750% more effective than traditional marketing, because you are targeting people who already have an interest in your product.
Inbound Marketing Is…
- reaching your best buyers where they’re already looking
- giving the right content to the right people in the right place at the right time
- crafting buyer personas to target the right people with military accuracy
- nurturing potential buyers and leads through the buyer’s journey
- earning trust, credibility, and respect by educating instead of selling
- bringing all of these things together to make your buyers more likely to purchase from you
And it works.
92% of companies using inbound marketing increase their traffic.
93% of companies using inbound marketing increase their lead generation.
42% of companies using inbound marketing increase their lead-to-sale conversion rate. (HubSpot)
Inbound marketing is awesome for increasing website traffic and making more sales, but it does require an Internet connection.
The closest thing you’ll get to offline inbound marketing is the Yellow Pages, and nobody reads those anymore because - wait for it - all that information is online!
So, everything comes back to the Internet. The Internet is absolutely necessary in 2015 – it drives business, social trends, communication, and it will impact the future of your own company.
How does inbound marketing increase sales and traffic?
Good question! Remember what we said about targeting buyers where they’re already looking? There are a few components to that targeting system.
The Inbound Marketing Umbrella
The term “inbound marketing” actually encompasses a broad range of marketing strategies. You’ll probably recognize a few on this list:
- SEO (search engine optimization)
- PPC (pay per click advertising)
- Email marketing
- Social media
- CTAs and landing pages
- Content marketing
And, all of them target buyers who WANT to buy from you – no more annoying potential customers with interruptions.
Good Timing and Placement
The best place and time to market yourself can be hard to see from the inside. That’s why you need to step out of your role as a seller to understand where and when buyers will be open to your “courtship.” (That sounded less creepy in my head.)
To make a long story short, personas and the journey give you a glimpse into the mind of your buyer. They give fantastic insight into buying habits, motivations, frustrations, and more to ultimately boost revenue.
And as we all know, increasing revenue is the One True Goal of a business.
Content deserves its own section, even though we mentioned it under the inbound umbrella.
Content is the skeleton for your entire marketing strategy:
- SEO gets stronger with high-quality, valuable content.
- Blogging obviously depends on content that is valuable and relevant for a long period of time.
- Content in your CTAs and landing pages will be the difference between converting a lead and losing one.
And you do need great content. Well-written, educational, high-value information will make you stand out from your competitors and entice buyers to choose you.
Great content reinforces all of your search engine marketing, as Google will give you boosts to your rankings depending on the quality of your content.
And, potential buyers will be more likely to share your content (and therefore your name) among themselves if it helps them in some way.
Ultimately, the more visible you are online, the more likely you are to make a sale.
What we’re trying to say is: if you want more website traffic and more sales in 2015, you have to be online and marketing yourself properly.
That means applying inbound marketing tactics to your marketing efforts, however big or small those may be.
The influence of technology is only going to increase in the coming years. The reach of the Internet is only going to grow.
If your business isn’t online now, you’re already way behind in the game. If you’re online and not using inbound marketing, it’s probably time to start.
I mean, really, who DOESN’T want to save $20k/year? Crazy people, that’s who.