You might already have heard the term inbound marketing. But what does it really mean? And how is it different to what you are doing today?
Outbound marketing is what you might already be doing. It is the traditional way of communicating with potential customers through trade shows, email blasts to purchased lists, billboards, TV advertisement and so on. This way of getting your message out to as many people as possible has proven to not be very effective for most companies, as well as often being impossible to track the success rate of. What worked and what did not?
Outbound marketing implies that those receiving the message have no say in how they wanted to receive it (or if they want it at all). Traditional marketing treats customers as uninformed individuals. That’s why people have begun to relate marketing to spam, why it feels so invasive, and why the tree fell but no one heard a sound. That’s why there was a need for a new kind of marketing; inbound.
Inbound marketing is the opposite. It is permission-based marketing. Here you start by identifying the people you are trying to reach, what they do, what they are worried about, how they behave online and what questions they want the answers to. These people are your personas. Then you create the content that they need in order to make their decision.
“Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.” - HubSpot
Consumers and technology have changed. The numbers are clear. According to Forbes, “81% of shoppers conduct online research before they make a purchase”, so why keep treating them like they don’t know what they want? You don’t have to go outside and scream about your product or service. With inbound marketing, you don’t find customers, the customer finds you.
Inbound marketing is all about providing useful information. It has a 4-step process: Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. Each step provides different information depending on where the customer is, often called “the buyer’s journey”.
Is the person ready to make a purchase? Are they browsing just for fun? Do they match the type of customer you want? Each stage of the inbound process answers these questions and establishes a relationship with a client, even after closing the sale.
That's right. Inbound keeps in touch with clients after they become paying customers. Inbound stops treating customers as little buying machines. Start treating them like what they are: humans.
That's why it's effective. Stop swimming against the current and start taking advantage of new practices and techniques, like SEO, content marketing and social media. Attract and convert more customers. Treat them right, delight them.