While Internet Marketing dominated the early years of online business, Inbound Marketing has risen to popularity over the last 10 years and is fast becoming the dominant marketing strategy online. Nonetheless, the debate over the two marketing systems continues, and for those who are unsure about which strategy to utilize in their business it is often difficult to determine which camp has the upper hand. This undecided middle ground is where, for a long time, I found myself. It wasn’t until I was able to study and personally experience each of these two marketing strategies that I came to understand that neither side wins the debate. Rather, which strategy you use should be determined by the kind of services you offer and the buying habits of your customers.
To help you understand which marketing model might be the best fit for your business, I’ll briefly explain some of the main distinctions I’ve learned over the years.
In a broad sense, any business that markets to users across digital platforms through the use of advertisements, like banners or pop-ups, is using some form Internet Marketing. Yet, this strategy is more refined than simply pushing out ads.
The end goal of Internet Marketing is to enhance a company’s visual appeal and to create easily recognizable branding so that prospects can quickly and easily find your company when your services are needed. This is called buyer generated demand – if you can quickly recall a local plumbing company by remembering their iconic logo or catchy ad phrase, you can thank effective Internet Marketing for sticking that brand in your memory.
For B2C service-based businesses, like plumbers, getting found by local consumers is critical, and the competition is intense. If you are this kind of business, like a plumbing company, Internet Marketing is probably a good fit for you because its strategies focus on creating easily recognizable branding for your company, announcing your brand to the local market through online platforms, and developing a quality online storefront.
Internet Marketing strategy understands that your website is an ambassador for your company and that it needs to convey the kind of quality consumers can expect from your work. Additionally, a website designed around this strategy will make it very easy for customers to find out exactly what services you offer, your pricing, your schedule, and how to get in touch with you. Being in the business of user generated demand means that you need to be the first person a customer finds and calls. Adopting Internet Marketing into your business is a big step towards making that happen.
Inbound Marketing is a strategy that unites Internet and content marketing together and focuses on prospect education to develop a relationship with consumers, rather than meeting a quick, short sale cycle need. This means that businesses with longer sale cycles, higher average sale prices, and a relationship-based focus with their consumers, are the best candidates for Inbound Marketing.
Customers that seek out these kinds of businesses tend to go through a long consideration process, often called The Buyer’s Journey, before deciding which business they will work with. There are four unique stages to this process: Awareness, Consideration, Decision, and Delight. Often, prospects can take up to a year working through the buyer’s journey. Starting out, many are not exactly sure how they will meet their need, and spend a lot of time researching their options. This is why buyer education is a critical component of Inbound Marketing.
Buyer education focuses on prospects who have a need but are looking for quality content to help them decide what to do about it. For example, a homeowner who is unsure what kind of insulation to install in their attic, or a car accident victim who needs help understanding if they have the grounds for a lawsuit. They have a need, but don’t know exactly how they are going to fulfill it. Using Inbound Marketing, your company produces educational content to show them the options for meeting their need, gains their trust through ‘buyer first’ messaging, and helps them decide to work with you through the organic growth of their relationship with your business.
In conclusion, both of these marketing strategies are effective, but only when utilized properly and by the correct kind of business. I’ve seen many companies who attempt to implement one or even both models, but don’t get the results they desire because they don’t change their marketing strategy or don’t understand how to properly implement the new system.
Here at Fannit, we have developed specialized teams that have experience in both Internet Marketing and Inbound Marketing. While some marketing agencies emphasize just one or the other, we understand that entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes – and that’s who Fannit is here to support.
Want to find out which marketing strategy will be best for your company? Contact us today and we'll start the process of taking your company to the next level.