These days, a new technique is revolutionizing how businesses market their products. It is known as Inbound Marketing.
Today, let us talk about what Inbound Marketing is, how it is changing the face of traditional or outbound marketing, and why you should be interested about it.
Traditional or Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing or traditional marketing is a way in which companies go out and find customers. It is a push strategy. Outbound marketers mainly adopt two strategies:
- They put out advertisements in television, billboards, print media, etc. for people to see.
- They also actively reach out to people by making cold calls, sending direct mails, etc. These are techniques which are interruptive in nature.
Not everyone likes interruption
Remember how you have received calls from marketers while you were attending that urgent meeting, or that ad that came on TV just before the climax of the movie was about to start? What was your reaction to these interruptions?
I remember having a blacklisted financial services company because a sneaky cold caller from its office called me thrice in a single day, and finally got very upset because I was not on a business tour!
Needless to say, only a handful of those who receive these calls actually see the product and buy it. Outbound marketing relies on purchases made by a small percentage of people who see the ads, or receive such calls. This results in waste of the money spent in reaching out to people who are not interested.
Another problem is that, with the advancement of technology users are now able to block these marketing messages easily. Most of the direct mass emails land up in the junk mail folder. There are reports that people have also developed a blindness towards most of the ads that are shown on television. And let's not forget how people get irritated with cold calls made to them. As you can see, the outbound method of marketing is losing its sheen rapidly.
Inbound Marketing on the other hand, is not an interruptive strategy at all. It adopts a Pull Strategy, wherein instead of reaching out to your customers, you attract them to yourself.
Its foundation lies in adding value to the users instead of bombarding them with marketing messages. This value is provided in the form of useful content which helps the users in one or more ways. Many users go online looking for a solution to a problem that they are having. Inbound relationships on solving their problems or giving them valuable information first, and building up engagement with them afterwards.
When users get benefited by what you have to say, they try to hear from you more often. Over time they start trusting you and would also be interested in using the product or service that you have to offer. When people come to you looking for solutions, it is far easier to delight them, and increase your sales now.
Thus, unlike in outbound marketing, where the communication with the customer starts with trying to sell something to them, in inbound sales is something that comes later, only after the user has become comfortable, and has started trusting your business.
The inbound marketing process
- It starts with attracting visitors to your website
- Next, you convert these visitors into leads
- Close the leads to make them buy your offerings
- Thereafter, you engage with them a lot more and continue to delight them. This will keep them loyal to you, and will also become your brand ambassadors by telling others about you. This increases repeat sales and cross sells. Sometimes the need for prospecting for new customers will decrease over time.
The techniques used in Inbound Marketing
Inbound Marketing is a strategy which is created by combining the best of the digital marketing techniques. The exact techniques that are used in this strategy depends on the type of the business, its goals, and the customers that it wants to cater to. The following are the digital marketing techniques that are used to create and Inbound Marketing strategy:
- Content marketing: This is the core of inbound. The business needs to create great content which will attract the users. When the users read content that is valuable to them, they would visit the website of the business in search for more information. The business has to continue to give valuable information to customers regularly.
- Search Engine Optimization: The website needs to be optimized for visits by the users. Various search engine optimization techniques are applied to make sure that they get the best experience by visiting the website of the business.
- Social Media marketing: A strong presence in relevant social media channels has to be built-in order to engage with the users. Apart from the website, the business will provide information through social media also. It also has to listen to what the users are saying, receive feedbacks, and offer solutions to users' problems. Social Media is also a great way of understanding their needs and expectations of from the business.
- Email marketing: The business needs to keep in touch with customers by sending emails to them. Not only is this a great way of building engagement with prospective customers, but it also is a very effective tool for customer retention. Inbound however, depends on permission-based emails which users have agreed to receive. Unlike in outbound marketing, Mass Mailers are never sent out to any customers in inbound.
All these strategies are combined to form an effective strategy that completely changes the way the business markets its products. Inbound can also result in significant cost savings when done correctly. However, the results from Inbound Marketing take some time to show up. Businesses have to consistently do it over a period of time before reaping the benefits. However, once the transition is complete, the benefits keep flowing in.