When it comes to planning your marketing strategy, you obviously have a lot of options, but most of the strategies you can choose to pursue will likely fall under one of two categories:
You may be more familiar with the term “traditional” marketing. Traditional, or outbound, marketing is all about pushing a message out and onto your audience, ergo interrupting them, through various mediums. Traditional forms of marketing materials include:
One problem that’s inherent with traditional marketing is that it forces you to talk to a passive audience. The people who are encountering your marketing materials may not be interested in your products or services at the moment; all you can really do is hope your marketing left enough of an impression that consumers will maybe remember your brand in the future.
I don’t know about you, but we like marketing methods that help us generate leads and truly grow our business.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is a way to connect with potential clients that already have a need for your product or service (they just might not know it yet). As our chief creative officer, Monica Pitts, said in a Columbia Business Times article, “The message is planted in various online marketing mediums, pulling in people who are looking for answers and developing a relationship based on trust through educational content.”
So while outbound marketing is about the push, inbound marketing is about the pull.
Prospects who are interested in finding solutions to their problems or questions are going to use the internet as a research tool. Inbound marketing tactics are synonymous with online marketing methods. Your inbound marketing toolbelt should include:
Put simply, because it works.
We’re able to move our prospective clients through each stage of the sales process by providing educational materials that help them make an informed decision. Publishing blog articles that can easily be found on search engines is a great way to position your company as an expert in the industry. When you take a transparent, non-solicitous approach to sharing information, readers will perceive you as credible and trustworthy. By integrating your blog with your company website, the content you publish directs interested individuals to your website where they can learn about the products and services you offer in a proactive way.
Think of your website as the hub of your marketing efforts; everything you put out into the world about your business should direct visitors to your website. Inbound social media and email marketing campaigns would nurture relationships by linking back to resources on the company blog or website and informing attentive readers about other resources available to them.
Once you start to build your email contacts, segment your subscribers into separate lists so you can deliver content tailored to that group’s interests. Instead of sending all your content to everyone, this inbound marketing strategy is about sharing resources with the people that are most likely to be interested is the content you’re promoting. Segmenting your lists will translate to better open rates and click-thru rates for you email marketing campaigns.
If you haven’t caught on by now, the inbound marketing method is centered on education. You can continue to educate readers by creating original, educational offerings for them to download from your website. In exchange for the download, have the visitors share their contact information with you. That way, you can send the visitor a follow-up email with links to blog posts on a topic related to the offering or maybe a coupon to encourage them to do business with you.
By connecting with a potential customer from the very first interaction they have with your company and providing them with resources they need, trust forms from the beginning of the buying cycle. Don’t underestimate how important it is to foster these types of relationships; before a prospect converts into a long-term customer, they’ll want to know your expertise in the industry, which can be supported through offering educational resources.
Just because we support an inbound approach to marketing doesn’t mean we neglect outbound strategies. Some of your target audience members may not use the internet much, so reaching them with radio ads, TV spots, or magazine features could be a better marketing route. Using both inbound and outbound sales methods in tandem sets a solid foundation for your business that can increase your leads and convert them into customers.