Marketing has changed dramatically in recent years. With the popularity of social media and the ubiquity of the web, businesses have more tools than ever in their marketing toolkit. Traditionally, marketers would have to go out and get their audience’s attention through TV or radio ads, billboards, pushy sales people or cold calling. This is what is known as outbound marketing.
It’s inherently interruptive and relies on trying to grab your audience’s attention when they probably want to be doing something else.
How is inbound marketing different from outbound marketing?
Put simply, inbound marketing is anything that brings the audience in to you. It includes things like content marketing and SEO and is generally considered to be useful to your audience.
But what form it takes or how it is delivered is only half of the story. The fundamental difference from outbound marketing is that your audience is intentionally seeking out the information you are providing. Because you aren’t interrupting them they are far more likely to pay attention to what you have to say.
Who should use inbound marketing?
The truth is that inbound marketing is the direction that advertising is headed, regardless of your business or industry. But some companies will benefit more than others. You should definitely be using inbound marketing if you are a company that:
Sells to other businesses (B2B)
Has a long sales cycle
Is a small business
Sells very high priced products or services
Sells very technical or complex products
Has a lot of competition
Why? Three reasons: Discovery, Nurturing, and Trust.
First, you need to be discovered by your audience. A study found that 81% of shoppers conduct online research before buying. And if you’re a B2B company, a separate study found 94% of B2B buyers conduct research online. You need to be using this as an opportunity to build leads and get more people aware of your brand.
Second, you need to nurture people through the sales funnel. The longer the buying process, the more you need an inbound marketing strategy. In this case, it’s not enough just to attract someone to your brand. You need to make sure they have enough information available to them to make the right decision.
Businesses tend to spend far more time conducting research and comparing options than consumers will, and this increases as the price goes up. They are also making a decision that affects many stakeholders. These customers are actively seeking information to make an informed decision. If you’re not providing it, someone else will.
Finally, inbound marketing helps build trust with your audience. People don’t like to be sold to, and most people have become so used to advertising that they generally discredit it or avoid paying attention. But people who are seeking information are actively looking to be helped.
By providing that information when they need it most, you are also building trust with your brand and your products. You can use inbound marketing to establish yourself as the industry expert or the place to go for help. This trust is vital to converting leads into customers, and is truly the value of an inbound marketing strategy.
Create your inbound marketing strategy today
Now that you have a better understanding of inbound marketing, you can start creating a strategy. Identify areas that you can be the expert in and find the questions that your audience is asking. Talk to your existing leads and customers to see what they are looking for when making a purchasing decision. Then, choose the type of content you want to create and plan how you will get your audience to see it. Done right, you’ll have qualified customers coming to you.
Bridge the Gap Marketing Solutions provides personalized consulting services to help you build your marketing strategy, identify your target audience and develop a realistic schedule and budget. Visit our Consulting page for more information.