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Let’s face it. No one likes to be invaded with constant cold calling about products or services they are not really interested in. So you’ll probably be relieved to hear that the law is finally cracking down on companies advocating aggressive cold calling tactics.1 This news follows a recent report that the UK’s digital ad spend is set to overtake traditional advertising in 2015,2 indicating that whilst cold calling may be dead, online marketing remains very much in its prime.

Previously, action would only be taken on cold calling as a result of “substantial damage or substantial distress” an ambiguous ruling which helped companies continue their nuisance cold calling without reprimand. However, on the 6th April 2015 this requirement was removed from the legislation, with fines of up to £500,000 imposed on any company that continues to bombard individuals and organisations with sales calls.

This welcome development celebrates the demise of invasive advertising techniques and paves the way for a subtler and altogether more effective approach; an approach that has become known as inbound marketing.3

The new marketing landscape

The ways that people are searching have evolved rapidly over the last few years and are continuing to do so to this day. Now that users have the facility to seek out products, services and information for themselves, interruption marketing techniques such as cold calling and sales visits have come to annoy rather than attract potential customers.

Inbound marketing places a huge emphasis on providing unique, indispensable content that brings real value to the user experience. This encourages potential customers to engage with companies and their brands, products and services – without making them feel as though they’re being sold to.

Those providing such content are ultimately perceived as thought leaders in their sector or industry. And as we all love to follow the leader, customers return again and again to seek out useful and interesting information; information upon which they might come to rely. This gives them a very different brand image from companies that plug their wares in a blatant and unimaginative manner, in turn attracting a better quality and quantity of conversions.

Of course, there’s still a time and a place for outbound marketing, and when implemented carefully, certain outbound techniques can greatly enhance an inbound marketing strategy. For example, if a user has previously visited your site through referral or search, following them around with remarketing ads will remind them of their experience and encourage them to take action (so outbound isn’t all bad).

However, in terms of the customer acquisition process as a whole, inbound marketing is the most effective long-term solution because it takes the entire journey into account. Carefully crafting an experience for the customer can enable you to engage their attention from the outset and keep them hooked until they come to make a purchase or enquiry – and quite possibly beyond that.

By contrast, carefully crafting an experience for the customer can enable you to engage their attention from the outset and keep them hooked until they come to make a purchase or enquiry – and quite possibly beyond that.

Crafting the customer experience

Inbound marketing may be an effective way to reach, engage and convert more customers online, but it’s a lot of hard work. It means getting to know the kinds of people within your target audience – possibly even better than they know themselves – and making educated assumptions as to the kinds of content they might be looking for based on rigorous testing and analysis.

It means ensuring a seamless customer journey no matter what route they might take, and engaging their attention along every step of the way. And what happens when that arduous journey is complete? You will have crowds of well-informed, loyal customers queuing at your door, rather than you knocking down theirs.

Sources and further reading

1. Could the death of cold calling spell the end for traditional marketing? Huw Jenkins, .rising
2. UK first country to cross 50% digital ad spend threshold, says study Huw Jenkins, .rising
3. What is inbound marketing? Peter Van Zelst, Zelst Online Marketing

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