When you create your marketing plan where do you start? Are you contemplating which trade shows will have the largest number of prospects? Are you trying to figure out how many cold calls you need to make before you get a sale? These marketing methods have been used for years by many businesses. But, what about inbound marketing? What is it and how is it effective?
The difference between inbound and outbound marketing:
Inbound marketing – This method requires a keen understanding of your ideal customer. It engages your target market by creating content that they find valuable and useful. Inbound does not interrupt. Prospects use social media, blogs, and search engines to find you.
Outbound marketing – Outbound marketing uses the more traditional marketing and advertising methods. Cold calling, advertisements, email lists, mailers, and commercials are a few examples. It interrupts to grab the prospect’s attention and entice them to buy.
Is outbound out of date?
Outbound marketing can be expensive, and many are questioning it effectiveness these days. Vital brings up some good points questioning if outbound marketing is worth it.
- Mailers – many of those get thrown away and are viewed as ‘junk mail’. 45% are never opened.
- Email lists – random sales emails end up in the spam folder.
- Cold calling – with over 200 million registered in the do not call database your company could end up in the red with fines with this strategy. Besides, many use cell phones with caller ID and are less likely to pick up the phone if they don’t recognize the number.
- Pop-up advertisements – excessive pop-ups are so unappealing to readers that they would rather leave your site than look at your product.
- Commercials – with DVR being as popular as it is, many simply fast forward through the commercials. Many don’t have cable anymore either.
How inbound marketing is different:
Inbound is a somewhat new marketing strategy. As you develop content that positions you as an expert in your field your target market begins to trust you. This starts the relationship on the right foot because your customers came to you wanting your products and services.
How to use inbound marketing to grow your company:
Inbound marketing uses a four-step process to attract and retain loyal customers.
Attract – This is not simply blanketing your services all over the Internet. Not everyone will be a good fit for your business. You want to invest your time and energy into attracting the right customers. A great place to start is blogging. Not just any random blogging. Your content needs to be targeted toward your ideal prospect. You need to have a content strategy to go along with blogging. If customers can’t find you online your strategy is sunk. Don’t let all that hard work creating expert content go to waste. It’s important to utilise social media at this stage too. That doesn’t mean you must use every social media avenue. Pick two or three that you know your ideal customer uses and focus on customising content for those mediums.
Convert – You want to make it easy for interested prospects to be converted into leads. You can do this by placing easy to find forms on your site. Prospects fill these out and you can set up a meeting with them easily to turn them into customers. Use customer relationship management software to make sure you don’t lose track of your leads and miss your window of opportunity.
Close – In traditional outbound marketing strategies this is the last step. However, inbound use smarketing to make the close smoother on the customer and the company. Often, the marketing and sales team don’t talk. But, with smarketing, they are on the same team and they make goals together. Marketing will analyse which marketing efforts are bringing in the most leads and hone in on those outlets. From there, the marketing department scores each lead with a predictive lead score and the high scores are sent to sales. They are warm leads who are more likely to buy but they may need some additional assistance before purchasing. Sales will nurture those leads accordingly to encourage the sale.
Delight – This is where inbound sets itself apart. It doesn’t stop at the sale is continues to delight the customer encouraging loyal repeat business. Customer hubs allow your business to continue connecting with your customer. These hubs help you find out new and better ways to serve clients. Smart content is another method to delight customers after the sale. They don’t want to see the same thing repeatedly if they have already purchased. Smart content is relevant to each customer and meets them where they are in the sales process.
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