New technology has changed the way consumers engage with businesses. It has shifted the sales transaction power from the business to the consumer. As a result, many outbound marketing tactics have lost their effectiveness because consumers want to do business on their terms. This shift created the need for a new and more meaningful way of reaching our audience. Enter Inbound Marketing, and here’s why your business needs to add it to the marketing mix.
What is the difference between Outbound and Inbound marketing?
Outbound Marketing focuses on ‘finding the customer.’ Using a variety of platforms like direct mail, newspaper, and radio, businesses create advertisements based on a target audience and design them to educate the prospective consumer about the business. Inbound Marketing focuses on helping ‘the customer find you.’ It consists of tactics like a high-ranking interactive website, company blog, and creating resources valuable to the consumer.
With Inbound Marketing, successful businesses take advantage of today’s digital channels and give their consumers incredibly valuable information. Content comes in many forms: training videos, free online webinars, white papers, case studies, Q & A sessions, online tools, eBooks and Guides, and access to a robust network of peers. The benefit to the consumer is they are receiving valuable information that they need and want. The benefit to the business is they become a trusted source of information and resources, brand loyalty increases, and the business is looked upon as an industry expert. Inbound Marketing is far more trustworthy to consumers because it is the businesses way of proving they are the best at what they do, rather than simply saying it as with traditional marketing advertisements.
How do you identify what your consumers really, really need?
The best way to determine what content to use to bring customers inbound is to ask them. Talk directly to your existing customers using a small focus group or survey, use the group function in LinkedIn to target groups of your ideal customers and pose the question in a discussion, conduct research online, and benchmark your competitors for ideas. The better you know your niche audience, the easier it becomes to develop content they want and need. For me, a blog is one of the most powerful forms of content marketing. I shared recently 27 uses for a business blog, all which help drive consumers to your business.
Let’s look at an example. Here’s a tough industry…. auto insurance. How would an auto insurance company create valuable content to bring customers inbound. Keep in mind that your content doesn’t have to deal directly with your specific product or service. An auto insurance sales company could provide a guide on how to find and buy the best used cars, or create an online portal that shows a car’s history report, or create an online community or resource center where the clients can find discounts on other items related to owning a car. Car owners want to know how to get the best coverage at the lowest price, share with them how to do just that. Use storytelling content to dispel common issues from under-insuring.
The most important aspect of Inbound Marketing is capturing the consumer’s information. For your really valuable content, like the guides they will download and video trainings they will take, require an opt-in where you capture their contact information. (Read: List Building: Keep your opt-in simple.) Use this to remain in contact in a professional manner and begin cultivating the relationship.
One of the most important reasons to use Inbound Marketing is the cost difference. Purchasing traditional advertising is extremely expensive. Inbound Marketing is a much more manageable cost. In fact, you can create unbelievable content for a fraction of the cost using our Ultimate Guide: Free Small Business Marketing. We share 97 tools for creating videos, webinars, downloads, plus the free software to help manage behind the scenes. What’s the value in this? It took us two years to find and compile this information, you get it with one click.
So what is your content challenge? Meet me in the comments and we’ll come up with the perfect inbound content for your business.
*The infographic was designed and recreated by Sally King from SK Graphic Design.