As a business owner wanting to learn more about marketing, you’ve most likely come across the words “inbound” and “outbound” at some point. But what do these terms actually mean? Well, you’ve come to the right place to find out.
Although there are some notable differences between these two marketing tactics, together they open up a world of new online opportunities for businesses across all sectors. Today, we’ll take a deep dive into what exactly these methods entail and what they can do for your brand.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is a term coined by marketing software company HubSpot back in 2006. It refers to a specific type of digital marketing that was made possible by the worldwide adoption of the internet.
In the past, targeting specific audiences was a difficult task. Billboards were seen by thousands of uninterested eyes, TV ads shown to everyone who tuned in for their daily dose of Coronation Street and telemarketers called people from endless lists based on very little personal information.
Then the internet came along and changed everything. Not only has the worldwide web offered us an endless supply of animal gifs and cat videos, but it’s also opened doors to a new kind of marketing that allows you to put your customers’ needs first.
Solving problems and adding value
You can now help solve common problems your target audience faces and showcase your products and services in a tailored way, at exactly the right time. By doing this, you are able to make your brand a familiar and reputable voice within your niche, build a loyal customer base and most importantly, keep them engaged with your business.
Inbound marketing is about drawing people in and engaging them with content that is useful to them, allowing them to discover your business in a more natural way.
Examples of how you can do this include things like:
- Blog posts educating your potential customer about a problem they’re currently facing
- Well-timed emails with a special offer that’s specific to them
- A video detailing tips on how to get even more out of your product or service once they become a customer
- Social media posting allowing you to proactively get involved with your audience and helping the public with information that's related to the product or services your business offers
- Content marketing and creating things like helpful videos for people who aren’t customers, instead giving away knowledge freely so you become a brand people trust and turn to
This is in contrast with some of the older methods of outbound marketing, which work by interrupting their target’s day with generalised messaging that doesn’t anticipate their current wants and needs. These outdated methods include things like direct mail and unsolicited sales calls.
This type of generalised outbound marketing can be viewed as spammy and annoying. This means that if you use these methods, you risk making what could be your potential customer’s first experience with your brand a negative one.
In defence of outbound marketing
So inbound marketing sounds pretty great, doesn’t it? If you read any number of articles on the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, you’ll likely come across a lot of arguments for how outbound marketing as a whole is spammy and outdated. While this is true in many situations and many of the traditional outbound marketing channels, we still believe that outbound has a very important place in your marketing strategy.
Today’s outbound marketing is not the same as it was a decade ago - or even last year. That’s because marketing analytics tools are constantly getting smarter, meaning that paid advertising can offer an increasingly targeted and tailored experience. PPC ads can target people based on their interests and demographic details, or remind them of a product they showed interest in previously through retargeting.
Outbound marketing tactics like these mean that your leads don’t necessarily find you organically but rather, you position your brand in front of them when they are most likely to buy, with the best possible message thanks to some top-notch marketing tracking tools.
The data we’re able to gather about internet users today helps us create targeted marketing materials that serve the right message to the right person at the right time. In fact, the amount of targeting and tailoring that can be applied to PPC campaigns today means that many people now argue that pay per click advertising could be considered an inbound marketing tool when it’s used right.
3 Reasons why inbound marketing is great for a business
1. It’s cost-effective
While running PPC campaigns or airing a TV ad can be costly, you can create content like social media and blog posts for your company completely free of charge. Inbound in general tends to be more cost-effective, with a 2012 Hubspot survey finding that it cost 61% less to get a new lead with inbound marketing rather than outbound.
2. Your search engine rankings will improve
The more useful, high-quality content you publish on your website, the more Google will favour and promote your website as an authority in your niche. Use SEO best practices to make sure your content gets noticed on search engines and test your existing web content with our free SEO audit tool. Because of those improved Google rankings, you’ll also be able to reach a wider audience.
3. Turn your leads into customers and customers into promoters
By anticipating the pain points of your business leads, you are putting them first and offering them what they need to know to find the best solution to their problems. This creates trust and makes your leads more likely to convert. Your helpful and engaging content can also help turn your customers into avid fans of your brand, promoting it to their friends and colleagues. This earns you some amazing free PR and grows your business organically.
Getting started with inbound marketing
Inbound is a broad and exciting subject, and there’s a lot more to setting up your marketing strategy than what we could cover in just one blog post. However, to help kickstart your inbound marketing journey, here are some simple things you can begin to implement.
Build some client personas
Client personas are basically fictional representations of your most valuable types of clients. So, if you’re a baker who specialises in beautiful cakes, your client personas could be along the lines of Bridget the Bride-To-Be and Pete the Party Planner. Having a few key client personas figured out means it’s easier for you to create content that will be useful to them.
Create some blog posts
A good way to come up with blog post topics is to consider what your customers ask you most often. This way, your blog posts will be anticipating the needs of your potential customers. Come up with a good number of blog post ideas, create a schedule for writing and publishing them and then actually stick to it - a blog that is started, updated sporadically and then quickly abandoned doesn’t make for a very useful tool for your audience.
ADVANCED TIP: Use a free tool like Ubersuggest to find out how many people are searching for a given topic before you dedicate time to creating it. If you are new to content creation, start off by going after topics that don’t have as many searches and once your website traffic starts to increase, go after the more competitive search terms.
Repurpose your content
Once you’ve got some cracking blog posts in the bank, it’s time to get as much out of them as possible. This could mean reposting your articles on a platform like LinkedIn or Medium, creating social media posts and PPC ads to promote them or using them as a starting off point for your next whitepaper.
These are some great first steps you can take to get started with inbound and outbound marketing. However, creating and executing a comprehensive inbound strategy takes a lot of work, and, unfortunately, there is no easy way around this.
If you could use a helping hand with your inbound or outbound marketing efforts, why not get in touch with our digital marketing experts?
As a HubSpot Silver marketing agency, we’re experienced in all things inbound and can help you decide which inbound and outbound marketing channels would drive the most value for your business.