Traditional marketing has been undertaken through outbound marketing efforts. These initiatives include direct mail, as well as print, broadcast and online advertising.
But companies are increasingly buttressing their outbound marketing with inbound marketing strategies, aiming to attract customers and prospects in varied stages of the sales funnel. Inbound marketing can result not just in one-way communications, but in interactive, two-way relationships with customers.
In sharp contrast with outbound marketing, inbound marketing strategies aim to capture leads in varied stages of the sales funnel, then nurture them not only to purchase but to become brand evangelists of your company.
There are several benefits of strong, lead-generating inbound marketing campaigns.
First, inbound marketing can effectively reach people who don’t yet know your company, but seek products or services you offer. Pardot’s State of Demand Generation report found 76 percent of buyers expect B2B companies to provide digital marketing that’s personalized throughout the buying process. Offering these buyers helpful online content tailored to them boosts odds they will find your pages and identify your company as a thought leader. These folks often prove to be strong leads that can fill your company’s purchasing funnel.
Second, inbound marketing can be more cost-effective than outbound marketing endeavors that “push“companies’ products or services at customers. Such endeavors can require substantial print, broadcast and online ad budgets.
Third, inbound marketing is a way to build long-term relationships. Even if prospects don’t purchase immediately, they are likely to view with favor your company’s content, including tips, suggestions and answers to questions. That can help make you a trusted source when they are ready to purchase.
To get the most from inbound marketing, keep these tips in mind.
* Set inbound marketing objectives that will help shape your strategy. One expert suggests beginning with SMART goals, meaning goals that are Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic and Time-based.
* Identify your “buyer persona,” or the representation of your ideal customer. Such a persona should include everything from gender, age and job title to benefits likely to appeal to that ideal customer.
You will keep your buyer persona top of mind as you build your inbound marketing strategy, tailoring everything from content font size and frequency of blog posts to the social media topics and networks to engage your target customers.
* Create content, such as blog posts, e-newsletters and videos, and seek ways to expand content over time. Can a compilation of blog posts be the basis for a quick e-book, for instance? Once you have content to share, promote it on your website, in emails and through social media.
* Finally, track, analyze and fine tune your inbound marketing strategy, using tools like Google Analytics to see where website visitors are coming from. If from Twitter or online trade journal articles, for instance, you can place more effort in these areas.