If you want to get a sense of where marketing is heading in the future—take a look at where it is today. According to a recent Techcrunch report, digital ads will account for 22 percent of all advertising spending by the end of this year. On top of that, mobile ads will make up 3.7 percent of all advertising spending in the same period. That’s pretty significant, given that just 15 years ago, digital ads didn’t even exist—at least not in their current form.
Some businesses get nervous about those numbers. They worry about how to compete in this “brave new world” of digital, online marketing. And with digital options and platforms changing all the time, they feel a bit overwhelmed.
These online tools for reaching potential customers are still just tools. True, some tools are better than others. And not every tool is right for every situation. What’s really significant is not how the tools have changed (or how people are using them). What’s important is what has happened in the marketplace.
People (consumers) are doing business differently. They are no longer willing to let businesses tell them what to buy. Thanks to the Internet, people have access to all kinds of information. They are telling businesses what they want to buy—and how they want to buy it.
Businesses that understand that—and are figuring out which online tools to use to accommodate consumers’ needs—will make it. Those that don’t—won’t. But it’s not primarily about the technology or the tools. It’s about recognizing how your customers want to do business.
Some businesses are simply trying to take old thinking (“Here’s what we have and here’s why you should buy it!”) and put it into a new format (online). That won’t work. It’s way too easy to click on the next URL to find what you want.
Consumers today are looking for information that will empower them to make the decisions that are best for them. And smart businesses are recognizing that and saying, “Here are the solutions to your questions and issues. And here’s how we can help you get what you want.” It’s a huge part of what’s called inbound marketing.
That’s why smart businesses blog and tweet—and post information on YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook and LinkedIn. They’re not just taking old messages and putting new wrappers on them. They are changing the way they talk to people. And that’s why savvy companies are using their websites—not to sell—but to build trust and to generate leads.
Will the digital share of marketing budgets increase? Count on it. But remember, it’s not primarily about the tools. It’s about how you use those tools that will determine your success.
If you’d like to take a closer look at what inbound marketing is all about, download our free Inbound Marketing 101 e-book. It will give you an overview of inbound marketing methods, and show you the two key stages for converting your website visitors into leads.