Virtually everyone has a smartphone. Ad blockers are reducing the effects of outbound tactics. Hence, businesses must learn how to do online marketing that reaches consumers.
The question we should be asking ourselves isn’t how to do online marketing, but rather how do we survive the challenges that are currently plaguing the advertising industry. This provides the solution, your guide to marketing your business online moving forward.
What comes to mind when you think about marketing? Is it Email, TV, radio, ads in print, trade shows, maybe telemarketing? These are all outbound forms of marketing, which focuses on initiating a conversation or reaching out to consumers about a product. Inbound marketing is a little different. The goal is to reach the customer when they actually want to hear from you.
Too many consumers have learned to ignore and block outbound marketing so much, that their impact quite possibly has been halved. Nonetheless, many small business owners, in particular, are yet to grasp the reality of the situation that ‘push’ advertising models are in.
Ad-free subscription-based services are on the rise, making it harder for outbound marketing tactics to reach audiences. According to Statista, an estimated 37 percent of the world’s Internet user’s use Netflix. The streaming service has 130+ million subscribers.
The fact that Facebook is testing an ad-free version of its platform, should be a good enough message that companies need to start changing how they do marketing. YouTube already has commercial-free subscription service and more users are opting for ad free video/television instead of traditional cable TV.
Is it because people hate being marketed to? After all, they’re paying to avoid ads, so they must be.
No, I don’t believe that’s why consumers are opting for ad-free services. If no one markets to us, how are we going to find awesome products? So nope, that can’t be it because people love to buy things they want and that’s not changing anytime soon.
But I do think that in general, we’re all a little worn out by commercials. That’s why we install ad blockers and are willing to pay for ad-free subscription services.
In fact, if someone uses a browser like Firefox where tracking protection is enabled by default, then they’ll never see your ad unless it’s on video. Blogs that rely on ads to generate revenue are already hurting because of this.
The more ad-free subscription services grow, the more difficult it becomes to reach consumers. This means fewer product sales across the board for companies that don’t find new ways to do business. A true debacle.
Surviving The Fall Of Outbound Advertising
Ad blocking user penetration rate in the United States from 2014 to 2018.
As an inbound marketer, I have to consistently find innovative ways to meet the target customer at their terms. So I’m already used to this dance but for an outbound marketer, it’s going to be a learning curve and we’re just at the beginning stages of this disruption.
So how do you advertise to an audience that doesn’t want to view commercials? What do you do as a business owner trying to get customers?
How people gather information is an important piece of the puzzle. When people relied heavily on TV and Radio to tell them about what’s new, they were both the focus for marketing.
We mostly learn and gather information on the Internet now. From personal healthcare to entertainment to education, search engines have become the goto portal for info. And I think that’s where the solution is – it’s in mastering the art of showing up on search results, aka search engine optimization (SEO).
There are more ads on the Internet compared to previous years. Advertisers showed up in droves and companies paid them for ads. Naturally, as people moved to their mobile devices, businesses followed them there and publishers got big paydays.
But users increasingly want to return to the times when ads were much less. As evident on the above visual, they’ve turned to ad blockers in order to do so.
Leveraging Search Engines For Inbound Traffic
Today failure to implement SEO can kill a company. This is perhaps one of the main reasons why some corporations went out of business, why mall traffic is dropping and department stores are closing. It’s tough all over because many are still pretending that optimizing for search is optional.
They know something has to be done and fast. But they’ve mostly went back on what worked in the past. Pushing out messaging and in your face sales pitches.
But here’s the thing.
You can’t base your entire marketing strategy on outbound activities alone anymore. You need something else added to it, a way to keep attracting customers to your business even after paid ads or outbound actions stop. These methods are becoming less effective as consumer behavior shifts.
The Internet is a one-stop shop for almost everything and it makes information gathering, as well as consumption quick. So join the party by ensuring that you’ve got a solid web presence.
Do you think of using a Yellow Pages directory or your smartphone to find a product? Probably not. The way we find information has changed, so should your marketing.
In order of importance, people prefer to use the following:
- Search engines
- Social Media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, YouTube etc.)
All of the above can be accessed by a smartphone and almost everyone has one these days.
The key to any stellar marketing plan is to match the way you market your products with the way your customers buy. If you wanted to buy your product or service, how would you discover you without seeing a traditional ad?
How to Attract Consumers to Your Business
In a way, inbound marketers are similar to magicians. Magicians perform magic tricks to entertain an audience. Their tricks and illusions seem so amazing that they get the attention of their audience fast. That’s kind of how inbound marketing works. You have to give the consumer an ‘aha’ moment.
Your goal is to get attention, which can be done in various ways. So you may need to solve problems or if it fits, do something crazy enough to get noticed. You might even need to be entertaining. As long as it’s in line with your company’s vision and attracts the right kind of attention, your tactic is working.
The construction company that regularly shares videos of their work online is spreading awareness. Similarly, a local dietician that creates fun and engaging blog articles is also doing the same.
Attention is critical but like a magician, you must load up or in other words, do all the prep work ahead of time. This involves building a great platform that you control (i.e. your website) and developing your overall marketing plan.
Once you have a website and know what’s needed to be done for reaching the intended audience, start seeking attention by implementing the tactics within your strategy.
Why You Must Build An Audience
Once you’ve acquired a steady flow of traffic, you need to start building your audience. Although it does happen, don’t wish that people will come back, instead build a system that makes it easy for them to do so.
This is why email lists are critical but don’t stop there. Do you have enough content to power a member only section of your site? If the information you provide is valuable enough, then do it.
You must build an audience because it’s the only way to sustain growth moving forward. Search engines are working harder to keep searchers on their platform. We can already see the effects it has on organic CTR (click-through rate) and it’s going to continue.
So you can’t ignore audience building, regardless of your business model. When you walk into a clothing store, make a purchase and the cashier asks you if you want to signup for their loyalty card, that company is building an audience.
When you have a pool of previous customers or readers in your database, it’s much easier to reconnect with them. The most important thing is that you treat them well. Don’t squander the trust that others place on you.
Your goal is to have a base that loves and regularly consumes your content.