It’s generally believed that the process of starting a new business or brand is not an easy one.
As an entrepreneur, you’ve got a lot of things to think about: formulating your business strategy, developing your tech, handling operations, and so on. Amid all the chaos, marketing is one thing that often gets neglected.
Entrepreneurs usually find it hard to pull any punches, especially when it comes to brand promotion and sales.
Sadly, things aren’t any better with traditional marketing – it’s becoming incredibly expensive these days and not usually effective.
So, the question now becomes: how can startup brands and businesses compete with the more significant industry tycoons and bigger firms?
Well, that’s where inbound marketing comes in handy. Inbound marketing, buzzword, and strategy of the modern marketing world is a popularly known, but not well-understood concept.
HubSpot coined the word in 2006, and it has grown in popularity through the 2010s and till today for a single reason in particular…It’s effective….extremely effective.
Inbound marketing doesn’t only cut through the noise – it’s also less expensive than outbound marketing strategies. Furthermore, inbound marketing is typically more sustainable and long-term.
At its core, inbound marketing is centered on bringing customers to brands and not the other way around.
It’s all about offering content that entices your target audience and potential consumers. By receiving value with no strings attached, it’ll become easier for your audience to trust you and eventually convert into customers.
In this article, we’ll talk about what inbound marketing entails, its fundamentals, how it differs from outbound marketing, how it works, and other relevant topics about inbound marketing.
Spare us a little out of your time, and let’s journey through the world of inbound marketing together.
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WHAT ON EARTH IS INBOUND MARKETING?
Inbound marketing is a discrete and non-disruptive form of marketing. It’s the type of marketing that you do to entice customers into making the first move.
For instance, the process of posting on social media or putting great content on your website allows the public to engage with you first.
Inbound marketing also incorporates tools meant to help customers organically stumble over you. For instance, SEO makes it possible for people to find you on a search engine results page. That way, it becomes easier for them to engage with your content.
While outbound marketing is centered around pushing messages to a large number of people, inbound marketing is a sort of “magnetic.”
Instead of sending out general messages to an uninterested group of people, inbound marketing allows you to entice your best prospects: those who are looking for solutions.
When this set of people get to your website, they find guidance, education, and help that directly answers their problems.
At the heart of inbound marketing is content: blog content, website content, and downloadable content offered on a website, like tip sheets, guides, papers, and others.
Inbound Marketing: Buyers Journey
When using an inbound marketing strategy, brands and marketers develop content that aligns with a specific point in their prospective buyers’ journeys:
- At the initial stage of their journey, a buyer is getting acquainted with the problem and potential solutions
- In the middle stage of their journey, they’re comparing a small set of probable solutions
- At the final stage of their journey, they’re doing everything it takes to make a final decision.
Different topics and content align nicely with each of these stages. So, when you create and offer useful content (via your website or blog), you satisfy all the information needs that your prospects might have at all points in their journey.
WHAT IS OUTBOUND MARKETING
Generally considered as the traditional form of marketing or interruptive marketing, outbound marketing is inherently duplicitous, obfuscated, and full of bull sh**.
It includes traditional tactics like TV, Radio, Event Sponsorship, Billboards, Direct-mails, Newspapers, etc.
The traditional outbound marketing strategy can even be found in such digital distribution forms like banner ads, SPAM, PPC, and email blasts. However, the defining qualities of outbound marketing are centered in the messaging.
In the pre-internet age, people didn’t have direct access to the world’s information at their fingerprints. Then, outbound marketing was the powerhouse.
Things aren’t the same any longer, and a lot of customers now consider outbound marketing to be a little too pushy, aggressive, and in-your-face.
Ideally, the last thing that most customers love to hear is (Please? Can you buy my product?). That’s one of the drawbacks of outbound marketing.
Outbound Marketing is Costly
You need a huge amount of capital investment to get started with outbound marketing. Sometimes, the ROI can also be questionable.
For instance, even if you design a beautiful ad for your burger restaurant, it won’t bring in much revenue if the billboard is outside a vegan community.
Unlike inbound marketing, outbound marketing usually doesn’t consider the buyer’s journey. It’s often a one-way conversation that focuses on your products and why the audience should purchase it.
Now we’ve talked about outbound marketing. Let’s take a look at the reasons outbound marketing is failing.
WHY IS OUTBOUND MARKETING FAILING?
In traditional marketing, if you want to want to reach out to the most significant number of people, then your message must be very general. This is one of the biggest problems with outbound marketing.
In other words, brands can’t easily use outbound marketing tactics to address a variety of specific challenges and needs.
Below are some other reasons outbound marketing is failing and not working today.
- Statistics from CMO Council reveals that 44% of direct mails are never opened. Often referred to as “junk mail,” this approach has surprisingly low effectiveness and is considered as one of the biggest pitfalls of traditional marketing. Regrettably, it’s difficult even to know the percentage of people that don’t open the mails. Furthermore, direct mails don’t provide the luxury and flexibility of email. Yeah, it becomes difficult to know who exactly opened, skimmed, read, or ignored your communications. This is a waste of paper, postage, and time.
- In terms of cost, 21% of respondents report that Telemarketing is “above average.” Also, reports have it that more people are registering their phone numbers on the Federal Trade Commission’s Do Not Call (DNC) registry. The phone numbers increased from 235.3 million in 2018 to 239.5 million in 2019. This implies that an increasing number of consumers don’t want to receive most telemarketing sales calls and robocalls – a very major pain to outbound marketing.
- 86% of people prefer to skip TV advertisements. With the rising number of DVR capabilities and online TV streaming services, television ads can be fast-forwarded. The present-day audiences are not even easy to entice, and you can’t make an impression on them if they’ve turned off.
- Outbound marketing is becoming extremely expensive, and many brands find it difficult to afford it. For instance, records have it that in 2019, CBS (a television broadcasting company) asked brands to pay $5.25 million for a 30-second feature during the superbowl match-up between New England Patriots and Angeles Rams. Even though it was broadcasted to the largest television audience, this is a whopping amount for what is technically just seconds of brand advertisement and exposure. Sadly, many startup brands and entrepreneurs can’t even afford to pay such an amount of money for brand advertisement.
- Another reason outbound marketing is failing is the reduction in the effect and impacts of banner ads and online display. Statistics reveal that the CTR across all ad formats and placements display ads per 1000 impressions is 0.05%. This is a very low CTR, and it implies that brands cannot effectively drive direct response from banner ads and/or online display.
INBOUND MARKETING VS OUTBOUND MARKETING
Now that we’ve talked about what inbound marketing and outbound marketing entails, let’s take a closer look at the differences between these two types of marketing strategies:
Outbound marketing uses traditional methods of advertisement. For instance, ads in the press, on televisions or billboards, on brochures, and mass mailings (digital or physical).
On the other hand, you’ll find the natural habitat of Inbound marketing in social media, Google searches, blogs, newsletters you subscribe to, and/or influencer marketing.
DIRECTION AND METHOD OF COMMUNICATION:
Outbound marketing is a means of advertisement that’s aimed at everyone. It interrupts and chases the customer and doesn’t even consider whether or not they’re interested in a subject.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is inbound. In this marketing strategy, you make information that you feel will be beneficial to your buyer persona or target audience with everyone. Whatever the case may be, your target audience will have to search for you. That’s the only way they’ll get to interact with your content.
CUSTOMER VS PRODUCT
In outbound marketing, brands produce content centered around the benefits of the products they’re advertising and offering. The content covers topics like advantages, offers, and features of the product, and it’s meant to entice people.
In inbound marketing, the content is not product-focused, more subtle, and focused on the needs of potential customers and users. The content is written to solve and provide some sort of education and helpful information that answers specific questions. In this category, you’ll always find content that answers questions like how do I get more visits to your website? How do I improve the marketing on my blog? And so on.
The budget for outbound marketing sets the world of advertising. Yeah, imagine what it’ll cost to have your ads featured in the Super Bowl- sometimes, it’s often millions of dollars for a few seconds. However, if you want to make an announcement on a local radio station or send a commercial message to the residents of a neighborhood, the cost will be lower. In outbound marketing, the budget depends on your scope of advertising.
On the contrary, you can achieve much more of an impact with inbound marketing, while spending less. Of course, you need to pay for content creation and the more content you want, the more budget you need.
At this point, we’ll love to emphasize the importance of a creative component. A lot of bloggers have been able to reach a large number of people (many thanks to their regular content creation) and managed to become well-known without having to spend a huge amount of money.
HOW DOES INBOUND MARKETING WORK
In reality, inbound marketing isn’t only made up of a single marketing method that attracts potential customers to your site. It comprises several marketing techniques, which are all considered to be “inbound.”
Each of the influencer marketing methods operates a little differently. While some might depend on the creation of content that exists for a consumer’s time of need, others involve the creation of profiles on social media networks like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Yet, others might focus on optimizing your site and increasing the likelihood of being noticed by more people.
In another section, we’ll consider the different types of inbound marketing. Meanwhile, let’s take a look at how brands can use inbound marketing.
HOW YOU CAN USE INBOUND MARKETING
Brands can utilize inbound marketing to accomplish so many goals. We’ve outlined some of the goals below:
- Increasing website conversion and website traffic via SEO
- Expanding the understanding of your target audience challenges, wants, and goals
- Establishing a presence across several touchpoints, like social, email and search
- Delivering personalized support and customer service
- Improving lead management and quality
- Growing your online following on several social media channels like email and social media
- Building brand awareness for your product, services, and brands
- And so on.
Brands leverage inbound marketing for business growth. In addition to enticing prospective customers, you can also use inbound marketing to retain your current customers. In the long run, this will have a positive impact on your bottom line.
TYPES OF INBOUND MARKETING
When it comes to inbound marketing, brands have the opportunity to choose from several options. Inbound marketing is highly customizable, and it allows brands to personalize their tactics to their audience.
Here are some of the well-known types of inbound marketing:
1. SOCIAL MEDIA
The first type of inbound marketing on our list is social media. In reality, you’re not going to get profitable results just by creating unique content and publishing it on your website.
If you want to get the best ROI on your content, then you need to attract both returning and new readers by sharing and promoting your content on social media.
Content creation is only a small piece of the puzzle. Social media comes in handy to ensure that your content reaches relevant people.
If you don’t have great rankings yet, then this is an excellent method to subsidize your organic traffic. After all, those who want to see your content will follow your brand.
The process of determining which social media platform to use is a task on its own. However, you can be sure that most of your leads are spending a considerable portion of their time consuming your content on different social media platforms.
One way to thrive is by spending time creating a social media promotion plan, distributing your content to the right people, evaluating your top-performing content, and paying some extra bucks for the promotion of your content.
Blogs and videos are the most basic type of inbound marketing in existence today. Blogs can be used as an avenue for achieving several goals. For instance, you can use blogs to address the needs of your potential audience by helping them realize they have a problem. Thus, inspiring them to look for solutions to it.
Secondly, blogs can be positioned to introduce a more valuable, longer content offers. It’s likely your customer’s first touchpoint with your brand. Brands use blog posts as resources that address people’s problems. For instance, this blog is meant to give you exposure to inbound marketing.
On the other hand, videos are inbound marketing strategies that most brands often use throughout the entire marketing process. They can act as supplements to written content or as alternative ways to consume visual information.
Just like us, many brands understand the power of video content and are using it to present their value proposition in a concise and relatable format.
Here are some ways videos can be used to supplement and accentuate written content:
- Video clips can be included on landing pages to tease premium content offers
- Short-form videos are commonly used on social media to create content that users can quickly consume
- Videos are embedded within guides to explain how a process works or emphasize points
- Short-form videos can also be used as supplements content on blogs
Additionally, videos can also be used later to support the sales process of a brand. For instance, we use our video channels to connect with our audience on a more personal level. That way, it becomes easier for us to build consumer trust.
Essentially, webinars are online events hosted by experts who present topics in their area of expertise. For instance, some brands host webinars about several topics related to sales and inbound marketing.
If your webinars are scheduled for a definite and future date, you can generate urgency by prompting viewers to sign up. After the broadcast, you can host webinars on your site like a guide, explaining how consumers should fill the form to gain access.
Webinars are interactive and presented via video. You can also share your screen and respond to questions in real-time.
Podcasts are another great type of inbound marketing- they’re digital audio files that feature discussions from a subject matter expert. For instance, our podcast provides insights into our area of expertise while offering easy listening.
One of the advantages of podcasts is that they offer flexibility to your contact and consumers. i.e., an individual can listen to a podcast while carrying out different tasks.
This is another example of inbound marketing. Yeah, brands can get the best from inbound marketing by hosting events, contests, and giveaways.
Most people love a good contest or giveaway. It can be a great way to capture leads and offer real value to people through this strategy and is often overlooked.
A statistic from Buzzsumo reveals that 82% of people are receptive to online contests and giveaways.
When you combine this high attrition rate with a contest/giveaway related to your professional services competences or product knowledge, you can quickly push leads into different directions based on their expertise or experience.
Qzzr also revealed that 75% of people who start a contest/giveaway finish it, spending an average of 2 minutes and 27 seconds. That’s a lot of time spent relating to your brand.
Indeed, creative contests are a surefire way to increase conversions, revenue, and build your lead base. You can use online service platforms like Shortstack to build sweepstakes and contests that’ll maximize your online potential and presence.
In addition to contest and giveaways, you can also organize an event and invite your target audience to attend for free.
During the event, you can offer some valuable information and strategies that participants can benefit from. To make it more exciting, you can invite leading influencers in your industry and have them share some useful information. This is one strategy that works anytime and any day.
WHY INBOUND MARKETING IS CREATING HIGHER CONVERSIONS & ADVANTAGES OF INBOUND MARKETING
In reality, marketing professionals are always looking for ways to attract more customers.
This end goal seems simple. But then, the channels and tactics that marketers use to achieve it are as diverse as their teams and industries. There are several options available, the process of creating a marketing strategy can be time-consuming and difficult.
When compared to the traditional method of marketing, inbound marketing outperforms every time.
Here are some reasons inbound marketing create higher conversions:
IT GENERATES WEBSITE TRAFFIC:
Two of the most elementary components of any inbound marketing strategy are content marketing and SEO. When used together, they’ll both lead to more qualified traffic to your site that you can turn into leads or customers.
You get the leads by creating informative, in-depth pages that are optimized for the keywords that apply to your customers.
The more content you create, the more chances you have to rank for precise phrases and keywords. Website pages rank individually. Your opportunities to rank for more queries in the search engine increases as you continue to post articles, blog posts, and other types of contents.
As you rank for more terms and improve your strategy, you’ll continue to see a higher level of traffic come to your website.
That said, it’s worth noting that the traffic generated doesn’t always lead directly to revenue. However, an increase in traffic will increase the number of customers who come in contact with your company.
When combined with SEO, a higher percentage of those visitors are more likely to be qualified leads.
IT CREATES A COHESIVE BRAND
In reality, a successful inbound marketing tactic comprises several channels like content marketing, social media, and SEO.
This might seem like something complicated. However, with the right planning, you can combine all the strategies to strengthen your branding.
Most traditional marketing channels only allow you to focus on a single aspect of your brand, whether that’s specific promotions, company values, or pricing.
In inbound marketing, the case isn’t the same. Here, you can create content that applies to all facets of your brand and also allow visitors to look for the content that’s most significant to them.
As long as you use the same tone and style in each strategy, you can be sure that your brand creates a consistent image across all channels. Eventually, this will reinforce who you are as a brand and also make it easy for potential customers to select the channel they prefer.
INBOUND MARKETING BUILDS UPON ITSELF
One of the biggest perks of inbound marketing is that it mostly takes place on your brand’s website. Meaning, the content you publish and optimize will continually generate results after many years.
When you advertise on traditional channels like TV or radio, you pay for ads to run for a set number of times or a short duration. You might experience an increase in sales or leads, but the ads stop running- and the customers stop appearing as soon as your budget is spent.
On the contrary, when you publish pages on your website, you only have to pay for content creation- which can be in the form of the money it costs to hire a freelancer or agency.
Once the content is written, it can be on your website for as long as you want it, and your audience can consume it completely free of charge.
As your page gets more traction in search engine results, you can share them via your social media channels and then continue to attract a new set of readers.
You can also grow your base of regular visitors as your company becomes more well-known. That way, your content will continue to have more impact, and brand growth will become even easier.
This article is an exhaustive resource that talks about inbound marketing, and we do hope that you find it interesting.
Meanwhile, we’ll love to hear from you.
What are your thoughts about inbound marketing? Do you think inbound marketing strategies have come to stay? Please drop your views in the comments section below.