It used to be that companies would mostly advertise in an interruptive way. Billboards, TV commercials, radio spots, mailers—these are all examples of outbound marketing. Now, marketers tend to focus more on creating value and connections. Emails, social media posts, blog posts—these are all examples of inbound marketing.
The biggest difference between inbound and outbound marketing is the focus of the content.
While some forms of outbound marketing do play a role (especially in creating brand awareness), inbound marketing is how brands form and maintain relationships with consumers.
Outbound marketing is focused on placement and grabbing attention. It casts a largely indiscriminate net in the hopes of snagging some leads.
The ultimate expression of outbound marketing is cold calling. If you’ve ever had your dinner interrupted by a salesperson selling new windows, insurance or a better rate on a school loan you don’t even have, then you understand how annoying interruptive marketing can be.
Inbound marketing is more focused on aligning the message with what the audience is looking for. The content created is specific for certain buyers coming in at certain points in their buyer’s journey.
If you’ve asked Google a complex question and read a company’s blog post on the answer, then you’ve experienced the ultimate expression of inbound marketing. That brand attracted you right into their space with their content.
The advantages of inbound marketing strategy include attracting qualified leads and creating long-term relationships. Here are some crucial inbound marketing tips when creating your strategy.
To have a really strong inbound marketing strategy, you need to have a very clear vision of your brand and target audience.
To have an effective inbound strategy, you need to realize that not all buyers are in the same boat. This means you need to:
Create content that appeals to the various stages of the buyer’s journey and use the buyer personas to ensure you have content that appeals to your different consumer types.
Provide individuals suggestions and interactions based specifically on their activity. This could include automating abandoned cart reminders, product suggestions or responding publicly to a social media complaint.
Don’t treat all contacts the same in your email marketing strategy. Differentiate your buyers based on things like location, previous purchases, point in the buyer’s journey and more.
Brands have been embarrassed when their scheduled ad campaigns are running during a sensitive time or their scheduled social media post sounds completely tone-deaf because it automatically posts during a national crisis. Customers will be annoyed if they get emails or SMS that ask them to do something they’ve already done. Automating social media responses is almost always a bad idea.
Automation can be a great tool, but it can make you seem out of touch if it gets overused.
You need great content that really appeals to your audience. Only publish content that adds value and helps position you as a trustworthy authority. Audit your existing content regularly so you can update evergreen content and add content to fill gaps.
From blog posts to YouTube videos and website images, make sure everything remains consistent with your brand aesthetic and voice.
Finally, don’t forget about your current customers. Too many brands focus their inbound strategy on the early stages of the buyer’s journey, neglecting those who’ve already made the purchase. Customer retention is usually far more cost effective than customer acquisition.