Don’t you just looove buzzwords? They have a certain ring when you hear them and they make you feel ever so “in-the-know” when you can break them out in conversation. They’re viral, penetrating, consumer-focused, value-driven, easy to syndicate and very findable due to their Panda-friendliness. Right?
Wrong! They’re not any of those things. Buzzwords are kind of clever at first and then quickly become annoying both through their over-use and growing fuzziness.
You see, when a word or phrase gets “buzz” lots of folks try to apply it to what they’re doing, building or selling. The result is that the meaning of the term gradually grows, becomes a lot less distinct, and therefore a lot less meaningful.
I see that happening with a lot of terms in the online marketing universe at the moment. Let’s look at three marketing strategy buzz-phrases that are at risk of losing their distinctive meaning. These are some very important concepts that every digital marketer, both inside and outside of healthcare, should be thinking about.
- Inbound marketing – Remember “push marketing?” Interrupting someone to tell them all about your organization or product? Inbound marketing is largely the opposite of that, employing a wide range of techniques to get consumers to come to you by offering valuable information and entertainment, building relationships and establishing your organization as being credible and trustworthy. Inbound marketing uses the broadest possible set of resources including techniques to be found through search engines, social media, email, blogging, and a range of paid marketing tools. This approach is fundamentally centered on consumer attraction strategies, pulling consumers to you and then creating positive consumer engagement which moves them towards conversion to a customer.
- Content marketing – While I sometimes see the term content marketing used interchangeably with inbound marketing, that’s not accurate. Content marketing encompasses a set of strategies under the inbound marketing umbrella. High quality information resources are valuable to consumers and they are willing to begin to engage with your organization in exchange for receiving such resources (typically for free). Content – in written, video, interactive, and other formats – is created to support the various stages of the consumer buying process and is then promoted through a wide range of different channels. Consumers looking for certain content – say diabetic-friendly recipes – will likely share their contact information in exchange for the resources. So in other words, they’ll provide their email address so they can receive recipes sent directly to them. This usually means the consumers agree to receive additional communications that the organization can use to further engage them, moving them through their selection process.
- Search marketing – Another term that is increasingly being used synonymously with inbound marketing is search marketing (or search engine marketing/SEM). SEM encompasses the range of techniques used by marketers to be found when consumers are searching online. This includes both organic strategies commonly referred to as search engine optimization (SEO) as well as search engine-based pay-per-click (PPC) advertising tactics. The key to understanding SEM is to know that it takes place at a search engine and is meant to connect with consumers as they are actively looking for information. Marketing in this ways allows you to reach the audience during a search, as opposed to advertising on consumer sites such as Facebook or WebMD where the consumer’s experience with those sites is interrupted by your attempt to get a message in front of them. The result is generally higher click-through rates and strong ROI.
It’s important to understand how each of these tactics is distinct and how they fit together. Each can have a role to play in your online marketing efforts. But don’t adopt these new approaches because they’re getting a lot of buzz in the market – take them on because they’re great techniques to attract and engage health consumers and can be effective tools to accomplish your marketing goals.