Inbound marketing is all about encouraging customers to come to you, as opposed to hunting down your customers through advertising. It can be a very effective form of marketing because it involves tapping into customers who are already interested in your business.
But just how and when you should use inbound marketing. This guide explains it all.
What is the difference between inbound and outbound marketing?
Inbound marketing involves drawing in customers, while outbound marketing involves venturing out and promoting your product to customers.
Outbound marketing can be quite invasive – it typically involves interrupting consumers from other activities such as placing an advert at the beginning of a Youtube video or cold calling someone. You typically have to work out a way of grabbing the consumer’s attention straight away using tactics like strong visuals or a catchy email header, otherwise you’ll be ignored.
Inbound marketing is meanwhile not invasive at all. It involves feeding into the desires and interests that your consumers already have by answering questions they may have. Through this content you can then convert consumers into customers. Because consumers are already interested, you have more time to gain their trust and convert them.
What are some forms of inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing can take several forms. These include:
Most people use Google or Bing when they want to search for an answer or product/service. SEO (search engine optimisation) increases the chance of your website coming up in the search results when someone types in a specific question or search term. There are many different tactics that you can use to boost your search engine rankings. It’s often worth paying website designers to build an SEO-friendly website and then paying for SEO as an ongoing service.
A lot of people will look up online reviews of a business before choosing to use that company. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that you have positive reviews displayed online – too many negative reviews or a lack of reviews altogether could scare off potential consumers. You can check out this guide to encouraging positive online reviews.
Regularly publishing blog posts on your website is a good SEO tactic and an effective form of inbound marketing. Blog posts are typically informational written guides. You can use them to answer questions related to your business that your customers may have. For example, a plumbing company could use blog posts to answer questions such as ‘why is my water pressure so low?’ or provide information such as ‘7 styles of bathroom tap’ to attract visitors to their website. Some of these visitors can then be converted into customers.
Informational videos work much the same way as blog posts, but in video form. They have become increasingly more popular in the last decade. They are different from ‘promotional’ videos, which are a form of outbound marketing – informational videos are more informative, helping to answer questions or satisfy curiosities that consumers may already have. They include videos such as tutorial videos (such as ‘how to taste wine like a pro”), behind-the-scenes videos (e.g. ‘how is red wine made?’) and explainer videos (e.g. ‘what is the difference between our wine and other wines?’). It’s worth hiring a video production company to create these.
Infographics are illustrations that help to present data on a subject in a fun visual way. They are often used within blog posts or shared on social media. Consumers may also look up infographics via Google Images or Bing Images. These can be another way to satisfy the interest of consumers and build leads. Consider hiring a graphic designer to produce an infographic for you.
You can also use e-books to offer advice on subjects related to your company. For example, if you run an Italian restaurant, you could write an e-book on Italian recipes while referencing your business – this may encourage some readers to check out your restaurant. E-books are great for establishing yourself as an authority on a subject, making you seem more credible as a professional. The advantage of e-books is that they do not have to be too long and they are relatively easy to publish compared to physical books. There are guides online on how to publish an e-book.
Which businesses can benefit the most from inbound marketing?
All businesses can benefit from doing some inbound marketing. However, there are some companies that are typically much more reliant on this form of marketing. This includes:
- Service-based businesses: Consumers are more likely to search for services than products. As a result, services can often benefit more from heavily investing in inbound marketing practises like SEO, reviews and blogging.
- B2B businesses: Companies that are directed at businesses rather than general consumers should also invest heavily in inbound marketing. Business clients typically take more time to weigh up their options when choosing a product or service – they are less likely to buy on impulse and therefore less likely to be swayed by outbound marketing.
- Luxury/premium products: Consumers are more likely to buy cheap and basic products on impulse, while often taking more time to research luxury and premium products. As a result, companies that sell luxury and premium products can benefit from doing a lot of inbound marketing.
What are some great times to rely on inbound marketing?
It’s worth constantly investing in inbound marketing, but there are a few periods where you can really take advantage of it. This includes:
- Periods of high demand: There could be periods of the year when people are more likely to search for your product or service. For example, toy companies get a lot of their revenue at Xmas and landscaping companies get a lot of their revenue in summer. Make sure that you’re creating content during these periods to take advantage of this demand.
- Periods of uncertainty: People may be more likely to ask questions during periods of uncertainty. For example, many people are asking questions such as ‘is it safe to travel to ___?’ – if you own a hotel in this location, you could aim to answer this question with a blog or vlog.
- Periods of controversy: If your industry is facing controversy, you may find that there are a lot of consumers looking for answers. For instance, right now Spotify is going through a lot of controversy – you can bet that other music streaming services are using this as a chance to convert extra customers though inbound marketing content, answering questions such as ‘why you should use ___ instead of Spotify’.