One of my favorite things to do as a kid was ride along with my mom to Costco just so I could play “scavenger hunt” for the free samples. And then once I found my favorite treats, I would let some time pass and circle back for seconds, hoping the lady in the hair net wouldn’t notice. Only take one? Yeah right. The samples were awesome because they gave me a little taste and kept me coming back for more, and some of them even became my staple treats and meals for years to come. Inbound marketing works the same way.
Not only have traditional and digital marketing been the principal for the last 15 years, now inbound marketing is the new evolved form and new generation of digital marketing. Inbound marketing gives your audience a free little taste of what your business is about to keep them coming back for more. To fully understand why inbound marketing works, it’s important to recognize the difference between the inbound and outbound approaches.
Outbound and Inbound Explained
In what now seems like the dark ages of marketing, businesses historically relied on reaching out to prospective customers via traditional channels such as cold calling, direct mail, broadcast, print media, billboards and other signage, trade show presentations, etc. As internet usage became more commonplace, businesses began to market via cold emails, Google AdWords, and other forms of internet advertising – all still outbound in nature. The defining phrase of outbound marketing is: “reaching out to prospective customers.”
As internet usage has evolved, consumers have begun using it to find information on products and services they are interested in buying. As that shift occurred, marketers began to realize that creating a relationship before any money changed hands is far more effective than trying to sell something first. Then, if marketers took the right steps and put in the effort, they could nurture those new relationships with their customers.
Why Inbound Is Better
The reason inbound marketing is more effective than outbound marketing is actually fairly simple. Inbound marketing helps companies get found by consumers who are already exploring and shopping in their industry. In other words, the customer initiates the relationship, not you.
The idea is to turn strangers into visitors, visitors into leads, leads into customers, and customers into promoters.
How Inbound Works
According to the inbound marketing experts at HubSpot, there are four action steps companies must take in the inbound marketing process:
- Attract prospects
- Convert visitors
- Close leads
- Delight customers
To accomplish these action steps, businesses use specific tools including blogs, keywords, social publishing, forms, calls-to-action, landing pages, customer relationship management (CRM), email, workflows, surveys, smart content, and social monitoring. It sounds like a lot of moving parts, but they can all be woven together to create a really smart and effective inbound marketing strategy.
In subsequent posts in this series on why inbound marketing works, we’ll go into greater detail on the above action steps and tools. Meanwhile, we invite you to contact us for help with your online marketing strategy.
Image by Richard Munckton and ronald meriales via Flickr CC