Inbound marketing is about attracting customers to enter our space. Let’s say we decide we want a packet of brownies to have with our coffee later in the morning. We drive to the shopping mall and browse the shops.
We look through a candy store front to see if they sell fudge. Then we spot someone handing out free fudge samples in the mall a few shops away that taste really good.
The price is within our expectations too. Where do you think we are going to purchase the brownies to have with our mid-morning coffee?
This article itself is an example of that free fudge sample.
What is Inbound Marketing and How Does It Work
Marketing is about convincing people they need what we sell, so they come in and buy from us. The person giving out free samples took this further because they were creating a need in shoppers’ minds.
However, inbound marketing goes even further than that. It helps, supports and empowers customers before, during and after they purchase.
It also provides this service when they browse through our display and leave without purchasing. This should not concern us because there is no incremental cost.
The internet, through search engines and social media, is a superb platform for inbound marketing. That’s because it reaches throughout the globe. This widens our market and democratizes our business.
The Three Stages of Inbound Marketing
1. attract strangers and turn them into visitors
First, we have to attract the attention of people potentially interested in what we have for sale.
Ways to attract visitors could include:
- Keyword focused SEO
- Social media
- Google Ads
2. Engage Your Visitors and Turn Them Into Customers
We need to engage with our visitors, understand their needs, and grow their trust in us as worthy suppliers.
Engaging visitors can involve the following activities:
- Deals and promotions
- Landing page with product benefits
- Video tutorials and How To’s
- Call to Action
- Email marketing
3. Delight Your Customers So They Turn to Advocates
Finally, when they order and we deliver, we must delight them with our service and the quality of their purchase.
Delight your customers with:
- Surveys and giveaways
- Smart content tailor made to your customer such as product recommendations to a client based on their viewing or purchasing history
- Social monitoring to track what your audiences are saying about your brand
People who leave brick-and-mortar or Internet stores content with the service provided are more likely to recommend us to their friends, and that’s the secondary goal of inbound marketing.
This is how you get customers to your website with inbound marketing.
Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing: What’s Better
Let me tell you a story about a young lady called Molly Malone, who lived in an Irish coastal town. She purchased fresh shellfish from fisherfolk, loaded it in a barrow and wheeled it through town.
As she wheeled it through town she stopped by at pubs and sang out “I’ve cockles and mussels so fresh they’re still alive”. There’s an Irish ballad about this that may be true, although an anonymous person wrote it.
But there’s a far deeper truth to this story and that’s why I told you about Molly. She attracted interest because she promoted her goods where her customers were. In pubs that were the heart of Irish social life.
However, that was in the 17th century. Suppose Molly was alive today and she went around town peddling her cockles to anyone that would listen, actually, make that 100 Molly’s going around town peddling their cockles, will that still work?
This shotgun approach today is known as outbound or disruptive marketing. This along with activities such as telemarketing and printed flyers are fast going the way of the dinosaurs.
It is disruptive and because it’s everywhere, we naturally put up a shield against it.
If Molly Malone was alive today, she would be a savvy inbound marketer, attracting clients to her website by providing relevant and valuable content that her clients actively search for online.
How Outbound Marketing is Losing Impact
Outbound marketing waves a flag at everybody whether we are interested or not and if you happen to be away for that previous few seconds it’s on, tough luck. It publishes its marketing messages on billboards, in print media, and online ads.
Outbound marketing is a right place at the right time strategy
It’s irrelevant to most people who receive the information, expensive and as more and more advertising is flooding our everyday lives – It is a game of diminishing returns.
It’s increasingly irrelevant because people don’t want to be told what to do. They want to find things out for themselves.
People have better access to information than ever before and they want to find out about the product (or service), maybe read an article on its pros and cons or book a free consultation before they actually buy.
That’s why Inbound Marketing is Simply Better than outbound marketing
If you want to purchase something, do you do your research on billboards / print media, or do you jump on the internet and Google?
Outbound, push marketing, disruption marketing whatever you call it is dead in the water, although I’ll grant there are exceptions. Gently persuasive inbound marketing is booming and so is the worldwide web.
Other Ways Suppliers Score with Inbound Marketing
People don’t like being hassled by cold calling or bombardments of irrelevant advertisements. They want to be left to make up their own minds without commercials. Inbound marketing helps them make decisions based on relevant information.
They are more likely to purchase from suppliers who help them this way because they like them.
For non impulse buy items (pretty much any product more than $20) and items and services with a long sales cycle, inbound marketing can work remarkably well.
However, please do note the hard slog will always be there and you do need to know what you are doing (or hire someone who does). In particular, you need to get inside your customer’s head and learn about what they are actively searching for before they make a purchasing decision.
Inbound Marketing Advantages:
- The method makes more effective use of sales and marketing skills than shotgun marketing. It produces genuine leads open to hearing what we say
- Moreover, inbound marketing increases our brand value as people start seeing us as a quality, caring business not just after their money
- We deliver this valuable information at the point where our customers do their research before making decisions, and that’s via their own connected devices
- Our market trusts us more, and more as a source of quality information about our niche. It can take a while but eventually we become friends
- However, most importantly inbound marketing brings us genuine leads. They want to acquire what we provide and may already have short-listed us.
How to Get Customers to Your Website with Inbound Marketing : Practical Examples
I doubt there can be many people who have not read, and taken on board inbound marketing messages in one of these forms which together make up a strategy:
- Content marketing with relative, informative SEO-rich content on our website streamed to people on our email list or email marketing
- Creating content on important third party websites that is also meaningful, informative and SEO-rich
- SEO optimization of our website that pulls it higher on google searches for related keywords
- Social media posts on specialist groups that interested people find when searching for our offerings
- Chatting with relevant social media influencers so their followers start noticing us and inquire about our products and services
- Email marketing through sending email messages to people on our mailing list who has opted in to receive interesting news related to our industry
- Using Google ads or PPC correctly so that our company and its related keywords come up when potential clients search for our searches on search engines
Inbound marketing need not be time-consuming; however, it takes time to implant ourselves in our audience’s mind.
Drip feeding relevant, unique, and valued information this way keeps our audience aware of what we do. Then someday when they want what we offer, we’ll be the first one they turn to
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