What is Inbound Marketing?
While marketing is still seen as a transactional task, the concept of building a relationship with prospects is changing how marketing is done. Inbound marketing is a strategy that uses different forms of marketing to attract new audiences and increase brand awareness.
Leveraging inbound strategy can help small business owners to not only grow their businesses but also build stronger relationships. This article will provide a deep dive into what inbound marketing is and how your business can benefit from it. Email marketing is the most common form of inbound marketing.
Inbound vs. Outbound
The emergence of inbound marketing over recent years has generated a heated debate within marketing circles. Many marketing practitioners often compare inbound and outbound marketing strategies.
Inbound promotion focuses more on attracting, engaging, and then delighting customers in a way that inspires trust and provides value for both the prospect and the business. It earns the attention of prospects by making it easy for the business to be found. As technology and customer behavior change, inbound strategy provides a more helpful and human way to market, sell, and serve customers. Inbound marketing is most commonly associated with digital marketing but is not limited to this discipline.
In this age of information abundance and attention shortage, customers become more empowered each day. Bearing this in mind, the inbound strategy is well adapted to today’s savvy customers, who do 70% of their research before deciding to buy a product. In other words, inbound is a strategy that better aligns your company with the typical buying process of a modern customer. The buyer’s journey may look like this:
- Awareness stage: A potential customer has a problem that needs to be solved.
- Consideration stage: The lead has understood the problem and has even searched for potential solutions.
- Decision Stage: At this stage, the prospect has selected a few products or services and must now decide on the one that best fits his or her needs.
Outbound marketing focuses more on reaching out to as many buyers as possible; some may not be looking for a product or service like yours. Unlike inbound, outbound marketing pays little attention to the buyer’s journey. It employs tactics like:
- Print Ads
- TV commercials
- Pay Per Click Ads
- Direct Mail
- Other Marketing Ideas
The biggest strength of inbound strategy is that it provides value to the customer; it is more educational than promotional. The main strength of outbound marketing is that it allows you to get in front of a large audience. With that said, there are several other factors that come into play when choosing between inbound and outbound marketing.
While many marketing experts and proponents of inbound marketing have an obvious preference for inbound, no one disputes that outbound marketing still plays an important role in marketing. Many marketers usually utilize a mix of different marketing strategies in their marketing campaigns.
How Inbound Strategy Works
Inbound employs a three-step approach: attract, engage and delight. Through this strategy, businesses can build reputation and momentum. From a commercial angle, the strategy represents happy customers who provide the needed energy to stimulate business growth. Here, the happy customer will continue to buy from you again and again or spread a good message about your business, thus attracting new customers. The opposite is also true. If you produce dissatisfied customers because you sell to prospects that are bad fits, it will slow growth.
To help customers connect with your brand, inbound strategy uses education resources and thought leadership. The aim here is to provide valuable information such as fun and helpful tips, industry guides, best practices, or content that shows your commitment to your prospect’s success. This way, you will appeal to new and old prospects on an informative level.
One of the reasons inbound marketing is effective is because today’s customers demand more a customized relationship with companies they buy from. They expect you to not only know their names but also what they need. For this reason, they have a say on the buying process. They also have higher expectations of your business, so excellence at each stage is necessary.
Through inbound strategy, your business will provide a holistic experience to everyone who engages your business irrespective of their stage in the buying journey. For the best outcome, all customer-facing staff needs to consider the three stages – attract, interact and delight – when serving customers. Attracting shouldn’t be the role of marketing alone while engaging should be the role or sales. Likewise, delighting isn’t the role of services.
Common Inbound Marketing Content and Channels
There is no single inbound strategy that can work well independently. A majority of successful inbound marketing campaigns usually incorporate several tactics. These include:
- SEO: When your business ranks higher on search engines, you are making it easy for prospects to find your content. Besides this, you are also attracting the right leads.
- Social Media: Over two-thirds of adults use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to share information. You can’t afford to ignore these online communities.
- Blog Posts: Blogging is the most common inbound strategy, and it plays a huge role in generating traffic and nurturing leads. Create your first blog post.
There are several other inbound marketing strategies you can use to attract customers and build credibility. These include videos, eBooks and whitepapers, live events and webinars, e-newsletters, and research studies.
Why Inbound Marketing is Effective
Here are some reasons inbound marketing is the right customer acquisition strategy.
- Inbound is cost-effective: The average cost per lead is significantly lower when you use inbound marketing. Creating a blog and optimizing with SEO is less expensive than using many other marketing avenues. Besides, social media is an inexpensive avenue to attract targeted customers. Resources involved in printing ads, spreading the message on television, newspaper, radio and other channels make outbound expensive.
- Offers better two-way communication: Customers can interact with your company in a dialog. As a result, they become more engaged. Moreover, customers love to take control of the information they receive.
- Non-intrusive: Inbound marketing relays the right message to the targeted customers. If you use the right content strategy, prospects are less likely to tune out your message.
- Appealing to non-marketers: Since inbound doesn’t involve hard selling, it appeals to people uncomfortable with the aggressiveness and pushy approach used in traditional marketing.
In this age where social media and the internet at large shape our daily decisions, it is hard for business to ignore inbound marketing. Small businesses can benefit immensely by incorporating inbound strategies into their marketing campaigns. Outbound marketing alone is not enough to drive growth. Contact Cowlick Studios to help you with your marketing plan.