You’ve likely heard about inbound marketing quite a lot in recent years, but many marketers are still unclear about how this approach differs from more traditional, outbound marketing and why it’s so valuable. Today, we’re going to change that.
Inbound Marketing 101
Before we get into the value that an inbound marketing strategy can provide, let’s first review the basics to make sure we’re all on the same page. Everyone used to be a captive audience — we had no choice but to watch commercials on TV, phone calls from telemarketers were a near nightly occurrence and even our ability to filter mail was nothing special. Today, that’s no longer the case, as we have plenty of technology at our disposal that can help us tune out these traditional, outbound approaches (so named because these were messages pushed on us).
As a result, marketers have had to adapt, and that’s where inbound marketing was born. Attracting customers with “pull” tactics (e.g. interesting blog posts and educational webinars) rather than shouting at them with “push” tactics (e.g. advertisements and cold calls) is the cornerstone of inbound marketing. The idea is that by attracting people to your message, you can ultimately convert those prospect leads and customer leads.
How Inbound Marketing Adds Value
This type of inbound marketing strategy is extremely common among leading marketing organizations today, and with good reason, as it not only improves upon the traditional, outbound approach but can also add significant business value in new ways. While the benefits of an inbound marketing strategy are numerous, here are three of the top reasons to consider taking this approach:
- Strengthen Brand Awareness: It’s common to spend a lot of time online today, and most people are likely to peruse social feeds for topics of interest, sign up for relevant newsletters and/or conduct Google searches to find answers to their questions. If your inbound marketing efforts continue to pop up across these activities (and it is very likely to make that happen, no matter the size of your business), you can significantly strengthen brand awareness among your target audience. Even if this brand awareness doesn’t result in any immediate conversions, it is likely to pay off long term, as familiarity can go a long way toward building credibility.
- Improve Your Position as a Thought Leader: People want to learn from and, even more so, partner with and buy from brands that they trust, and building that trust requires proving your expertise. Engaging in common inbound marketing activities like blogging, hosting webinars and connecting on social media can help bolster your status as a thought leader in your space. And once you’ve established yourself as a thought leader, you’ve also established a lot of credibilities (not to mention awareness as described above) as well.
- Increase Lead and Opportunity Generation: Last but not least, inbound marketing can significantly increase lead and opportunity generation. The stats say it all here — Social Media B2B reports that companies who blog generate 67% more leads per month. Meanwhile, other data finds that companies who use marketing automation to nurture prospects realize a 451% increase in qualified leads. In general, inbound marketing activities should create relevant content for your target audience to consume, and that model should help you foster relationships that will ultimately help you convert that audience. Combine these activities with clear calls to action designed to push people through your funnel, and you’ll be well on your way toward identifying more (and higher quality) leads and opportunities.
You Can’t Ignore the Power of Inbound Marketing
At the end of the day, inbound marketing creates new, powerful opportunities to build stronger relationships with your target audience and ultimately turn those relationships into sales. The results might not always be immediate, but the effort will most certainly pay off.