We are all familiar with “outbound” marketing. Outbound marketing involves sending marketing messages to a person or group of people using unsubtle, shouty, traditional marketing techniques. Think direct mail, flyers, advertising or email. Outbound marketing is sometimes referred to as interruption marketing. You target a group of people and send them marketing messages in the hope and expectation that they’ll be interested in your product and will buy it some time in the near future. Outbound marketing is often unsolicited and untargeted, but it can be very effective.
Getting Noticed In Your Field Of Expertise
Inbound marketing is a relatively new marketing methodology, and is a whole lot more subtle. Effective inbound marketing ensures that your business or brand is found as and when potential customers are looking for information in your field of expertise. Imagine you are a manufacturer of fishing reels. You’ve done a good job with your inbound marketing if your website pops up after a search for “best tackle for river fishing” or if your Facebook page is prominent when members of the angling community are discussing the best places to go river fishing when the new season starts.
With the advent of the internet and social media, consumers (and indeed businesses) are now able to search for solutions to everyday challenges in their own time. They are fully in control. They are no longer reliant on seeing TV adverts for that amazing new product which finally solve the problem they’ve had forever and a day (think stains on white T-shirts). Now they can search for solutions to any problem imaginable, and find a whole lot of people and companies willing to help. Today if you want to know how to get red wine stains out of a white T-shirt, you can simply Google “how to get red wine stains out of a white T-shirt” and you’ll find a gazillion potential solutions. You’ll find top tips from well known cleaning brands, you’ll find like-minded people sharing their own solutions and you’ll most likely see some products that you can buy at the click of a button.
Capturing Higher Quality Leads
The great thing about about inbound marketing is that you can be pretty sure that any leads that you capture as a result are warm in nature. These are people that were already searching for stuff in your area of expertise. They were doing it off their own back and in their own time. You didn’t have to send them a glossy flyer in order to try to persuade them to be interested. They came of their own accord.
One mistake that inbound marketeers make, though, is to assume that people who find your website or Facebook page or LinkedIn profile as the result of a search, are interested in buying your product. It may well be that they are doing some preliminary research and have no intention of buying anything for the foreseeable future. Or they may simply be curious, and have no intention of buying anything – ever. But that’s fine. The purpose of inbound marketing is to be found. Now that they’ve found you, you are on their radar. As and when they develop a need for your product (which they probably will), they’ll know where to come (just so long as you keep up the good work with the inbound marketing and don’t let them forget you).
The big question then is, how do you undertake inbound marketing? How do you craft inbound marketing messages? How do they differ from outbound marketing messages? The answer is to develop lots and lots of content. Valuable content. Rich content. Remarkable content. If inbound marketing is the sandwich, content marketing is the filling. And you can learn all about that in our next post, What Is Content Marketing?