If you own a business then you would know how important marketing is in order to get your brand’s products and services out there. Traditionally outbound marketing was the most common strategy, however, now with the rise of online marketing, inbound marketing has become just as popular and maybe even more effective than outbound marketing.
Below, we look at just the tip of the almighty iceberg that is Inbound Marketing.
Outbound marketing is when a business advertises its products and services by presenting information to consumers even if they are not looking for those products or services. This strategy is often referred to as ‘interruptive marketing’. Media channels include, TV ads, print ads, direct mail, billboards and radio. These were the traditional methods of advertising, but of course, expensive, poorly timed and untargeted. For larger companies, this form of marketing can work as it exposes their brand to a huge audience. This is, of course, how many people still see advertising and think, “I’m just a small business, I can’t afford TV or radio advertising”. Luckily for you, there is another strategy that you can use, that is, inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is a much more affordable marketing strategy, as in essence, it involves getting your potential clients to find you. Inbound marketing requires an online presence.
By having a mobile responsive, user friendly website you can really make the most of these inbound marketing techniques:
- Create great content – Use social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to post articles, photos and videos that are related to your products and services. Don’t push your products and services too heavily as this will quickly become interruptive marketing and turn your potential customers away; but by creating original content (with a couple of keywords strategically scattered throughout), you are enticing customers to stick with you. They can easily share your content with friends and post links to your website. Other ways to provide content include: white papers, blogs (either your own, or through guest blogs), email and video.
NB: Only use the channels that your customers use, there is no point wasting your time trying to connect with potential customers if they’re not there. Do your research and choose a couple of social platforms and do them well.
- Offer incentives – Offer your followers and potential customers incentives, like a free e-book or white paper download in exchange for their email address. It doesn’t cost you anything, but they are getting information about something of interest to them, which you are the expert in. In exchange, you are building your database to email to.
- Communication – Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing allows you to have direct, live communication with the consumer. By using your social media presence, you can ask customers for their opinions and encourage communication. The other simple and cost-effective way to communicate with your leads and customers is through email marketing, tailor your messages depending on what stage customers are through the sales cycle and set follow-up emails too.
- Use conversion techniques – Conversion is very important in inbound marketing. Once someone lands on your web page, the aim is to provide users with something that allows them to take the next step, this is called a ‘call to action’ and can be expressed as a contact form, landing page, read more button or social sharing links.
Outbound marketing means pushing your message in front of people whether they want to hear/see it or not, and as a result, people find it annoying and obtrusive. No wonder people are now streaming TV shows online or skipping through ads in order to avoid them altogether. Inbound marketing puts your message in front of your target market and if you employ the right content marketing strategy, they will be compelled by their own curiosity to see what you have to offer.
So which type of marketing should I use?
All companies, regardless of size should incorporate inbound marketing techniques. Bigger companies with more resources (especially if they have a wider audience) should also look into using outbound marketing as well. Its definitely not a case of choosing between the two but deciding how to best use both to benefit your business.