For both new and growing businesses, quality marketing campaigns can accomplish a vast range of things. Although the overarching goal of marketing is to both capture the attention of prospects and convert them, the best of these efforts also foster trust, position companies as industry authorities, and set the stage for lasting and increasingly profitable customer relationships.
There are countless forms of marketing that business owners can use to meet their goals. From print marketing and television commercials to expansive, multi-pronged digital marketing campaigns that include:
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Content marketing
- Pay-per-click marketing
- Search engine marketing
and more, you can promote your services and wares to consumers across numerous mediums, and at varying levels of cost. One of the most important distinctions to make about individual marketing types, however, is that they can be either inbound or outbound.
While outbound marketing pushes messages to a large, general audience, inbound marketing is designed to draw targeted prospects in. In so doing, inbound marketing attracts people who are already seeking what a company has to offer, and who are likely qualified to buy it.
How Inbound Marketing Stacks up to Outbound Marketing.
Outbound marketing targets broad, loosely defined audiences. Inbound marketing is structured to focus only on the people who are already looking for what you have to offer. One of the best examples of how outbound and inbound marketing are different can be seen in flier distribution. While you might pay to have thousands of colorful fliers printed and placed on the hoods of local cars, this outbound effort will only result in a handful of sales.
For every auto owner with absolutely no need of your services and no interest in them, you'll be wasting time, manpower, and money. Another great example (and one you have experienced personally without a doubt) is when you get a random call to your business line from a marketer offering you something that you have absolutely no interest in with guarantees that you do in fact need this product/service (don’t you despise these types of calls?).
Conversely, inbound marketing campaigns are infinitely more refined. They provide the answers to questions that targeted consumers have. They solve problems, address real pain points, and incite positive buying decisions. More importantly, they frequently involve static or fixed sources of information that people willingly come to.
For instance, maintaining a high-quality and information-rich blog that talks people through buying decisions, helps them make product comparisons, and offers troubleshooting or repair advice is virtually guaranteed to draw people to your web pages. After they've arrived, the value of your resources and the trust that your efforts foster will then get them to convert.
For example, have you ever read an article that you found extremely helpful? Did you then decide to subscribe to receive more information from this particular blog? This is a perfect use of an inbound marketing strategy.
The Difference Between Being Disruptive and Being Helpful
Outbound marketing campaigns are often seen by consumers as being disruptive. Moreover, given the massive numbers of outbound marketing messages that people encounter each day, most have begun unconsciously blocking them out.
A flier left on the dashboard of someone's car is more likely to be crumpled up than read, mass mailings are frequently placed in the trash, and telemarketers are consistently viewed with extreme disdain. Comparatively, inbound marketing efforts are considered helpful. Consumers are relieved when finding them. As problems are solved, trust is built, and companies stand out as experts in their fields.
Common Examples of Inbound Marketing
With inbound marketing, companies position themselves on platforms that consumers can easily find, and then use targeted keywords and other optimization strategies to show the relevance of the information they're sharing. For instance, if you sell cooking gadgets, you might:
- Publish online cooking videos that incorporate your products.
- Share recipes on your blog or on social media platforms.
- Publish how-to articles on high-interest websites that are related to your niche.
Through each of these and other efforts, you'll be providing value to people who are already interested in what you have to offer. These strategies are non-intrusive, non-disruptive, and far less likely to be ignored than general marketing efforts. People who are looking for recipes, cooking videos, and informative articles will consistently come to you.
Many businesses seeking to leverage the power of this type of marketing often align themselves with professional inbound marketing services. To optimize the potential of this outreach, it's important to have a firm understanding of:
- The different buyer personas that are likely to look for your business.
- The most common pain points among your targeted market
- The questions that prospects are most likely to ask at different stages of the purchasing process.
Professional inbound marketing consultants can help businesses identify and clearly define these factors and many others. In so doing, they're able to design and implement campaigns that both capture the attention of prospects and keep them engaged all the way up to the completion of sales. This ensures that prospective buyers aren't stopping by for industry-specific information and then leaving a company's web pages to close deals elsewhere.
When businesses understand their markets and structure their campaigns accordingly, this also provides them with the best opportunity to proactively manage their online reputations. Potentially damaging statements can be avoided, and measures that build and bolster trustworthiness can be employed.
The Surprising Cost Benefits of Inbound Marketing
If you've ever paid for an outbound marketing campaign before, then you already know just how costly they can be. Moreover, you know that the rewards of mass, generalized outreach rarely prove worthwhile. With more fliers being crumpled up, more phone calls being ignored, and more mailers being placed in the recycle bin than responded to, the returns on these investments are often dismal.
From the outset, inbound marketing is significantly cheaper.
It costs far less to publish a high-value blog than it does to send out
thousands of full-color brochures. However, the cost-effectiveness of inbound
marketing doesn't stop there. The same blog that you publish today can continue
educating and converting prospects for years to come.
Digital marketing resources can have an unlimited shelf-life, especially when companies strive to curate evergreen content. With a mailed brochure or a dashboard flier, you get one chance to make an impression and just one chance to incite a positive purchasing decision. Your blog posts, however, can be busy making conversions for your business even while you sleep.
Word-of-mouth advertising is also a bit easier to leverage and benefit from when using inbound marketing strategies. Consumers can easily refer their family members and friends to your social media profile, blog, professional website, or online videos. However, they aren't likely to keep your crumpled fliers in their back pockets. Thus, not only does inbound marketing cost far less from the outset, but it's also capable of providing ongoing and even exponential returns.
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