..and why you might not be familiar with the term but you might already be doing it.
Ever had that situation where someone is harping on about the latest fashion or business trend and how it’s cutting edge, the best thing ever etc. only to delve deeper and discover that you already know all about it, in fact you live and breathe it. Like that haircut you’ve been sporting since the 1980s coming back into fashion again….OK, maybe I’m pushing that analogy a bit far. Could this ever really be in fashion again?
So when I introduce the concept of inbound marketing to you, I wouldn’t be surprised that many of you will already be familiar with what it involves and how to do it, maybe you just didn’t call it that.
….put simply, is carrying out your marketing in a way that the customers find you rather than the more traditional style of marketing when you push a product or service on a customer. Inbound marketing focuses on finding those customers that are already searching for their products and services.
Whilst it was already being practiced, the term “inbound marketing” was coined in 2007 by the CEO of Hubspot so it makes sense to quote them for an official definition:
Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.
The opposite of inbound
You can probably guess what we refer to as the more traditional marketing methods – Outbound marketing – and you already know what outbound is – radio, TV, newspapers, magazines, direct-mail, billboards, event sponsorships and more latterly mass email marketing or spam and banner ads.
Another way of deciphering the two types of marketing is by referring to them as permission based versus interruption based.
Outbound marketing is interruption-based marketing. The aim is to find a large audience and interrupt them with advertising in the hope that a small percentage of the audience will listen to the interruption in whatever they are engaged with and convert into a customer. The problem is we have learned to tune out and technology, whilst it presents more opportunities for interruption, enables us to filter it out much of the outbound marketing. Outbound marketing is costly and the returns are very difficult to measure.
On the flip side inbound marketing is permission-based – it focuses on earning, not buying a customer’s attention, by communicating via mediums in which the audience has given you permission to communicate, in most cases online. Then answering the questions people are asking by getting those answers cleverly positioned around the web whether on their own website or elsewhere, they are ready to be found when the questions arise.
Mashable neatly defined the difference between Inbound vs Outbound. Click to see the original infographic.
The process of inbound marketing
Identify who your buyer is, what their problems are. Find out where they go online, what they search for & how they buy
2. Engage with your new audience
You want to get people who have never heard of your company, products, or services to come to your website, blog or other online offering by delivering the information that they are looking for at that time.
The core ways to achieve this are through SEO, Content and Social Media and includes strategies such as:
- Social media marketing
- Engaging content in the form of blogs, podcasts, and whitepapers.
- Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC)
Create excellent content your prospects can consume online. Valuable content useful to your buyer, that solves their problems.
4. Convert these visitors into new clients.
Now they are on your website seeking out the information you have given them, it’s time to make them see how valuable your company’s offering is and encourage them to sign up, read more or even buy. Some of the most common ways to convert site visitors into leads include:
Calls-to-action. Invite your customer to take the next step. Have them download an e-book or whitepaper, watch a video, listen to a podcast, attend a webinar, or some other activity that will help you capture their contact info and better understand their needs
- Contact forms.
- Landing pages.
- Contact lists.
Nurture people who have engaged with your content. Continue to feed them more relevant content & convert prospects to sales.
5. Make those customers happy.
Provide a great product and fantastic customer service and you will delight your new customer. Over deliver, keep in contact with customers via email & turn customers into champions of your brand. Why is this all so important when you already made the sale? Because delighted customers talk about you to other people who need your products or services. New strangers become attracted to your businesses, and the cycle continues.
Which One Should You Use?
Whilst inbound has become the marketing of choice today, it’s entirely up to you what you should use and in fact a combination will suit most companies. Inbound marketing helps you start a conversation and outbound marketing gets right to the point. Inbound is a long term approach and takes a lot of time and effort to build up your online profile and presence. You need to be really consistent with posting blogs, engaging on social media, and creating content that users will want to read, watch, or listen to. (That’s where someone like me comes in!). Outbound can be a quick win but can be costly and difficult to measure.
Combining Inbound and Outbound
They can work well together – you just need to make sure outbound marketing strategies connect to your inbound marketing. For example:
- Including your website and social media icons on direct mail pieces and flyers. I recently ran a marketing campaign with one client when we did a direct mail that pointed them to the website and we followed up with emails.
- Paid social promotion on sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn promoted posts and promoted Tweets. These aren’t traditional ads and you might have heard them referred to as “native advertising” because of the way they blend in with the non-paid posts on users’ feeds. But they get your posts in front of a bigger audience than might otherwise see them.
- Email marketing. This is viewed as outbound when you are emailing lists of contacts that you have purchased or that have not opted in.
So what’s next?
If you are looking for help with your marketing strategy whether it’s inbound or outbound, whether you need to come up with the ideas or need a spare pair of hands to implement it, Internet Marketing Naturally can help. Please call or contact me to find out more.