Do you know the difference between inbound and outbound marketing? Do you know which of the two is considered more natural and avoids interrupting the flow?
Hopefully, you already know the answer, but it’s okay if you don’t.
Outbound marketing — also referred to as “interruption marketing” — is when you try to capture the attention of your audience. You are essentially interrupting the natural flow of things, hence the nickname. This includes content like banner and display ads, outbound sales calls, pop-up advertisements or windows, press releases, billboards and more.
On the other hand, inbound marketing is when you capture the attention of your audience more organically. You allow your audience to come to you. This means engaging with them in ways that encourage seeking out your brand. This can be done via things like opt-in email lists or newsletters, public speaking events, video content, blogging, earned social media and more.
Inbound marketing is responsible for more than 90 percent of the clicks on the web, while outbound marketing accounts for less than 10 percent.
So when you have the option to choose between the two, you should almost always go with inbound marketing. But how do you implement these principles for your site and your brand? What should you consider before doing so?
Inbound Marketing 101
The first step is to identify a goal you’d like to achieve. This will allow you to create a strategy and tailor it to said goal.
For example, let’s say you want to generate 100 leads per month for your sales team. That’s an excellent start because you can use it to create a plan of attack. It’s specific, but most importantly it’s viable.
Since inbound marketing is more natural, you need to have this end purpose — this goal you are trying to achieve. It will allow you to focus on what’s important and create a personalized strategy. Before you do anything else, figure out what it is you want your marketing strategy to accomplish.
Identify Your Customer’s Persona
Next, you need to know who you are marketing to. To create an effective inbound marketing strategy, you need to target a specific audience. Remember, the end goal is to convince them to come to you — not to interrupt their normal flow of engagement. To do this, you need to understand who they are and what they want.
Build a buyer persona to better understand your ideal client.
Map Out Your Ideal Buyer’s Journey
It’s not enough to know who you’re targeting or what they want. You also need to understand the journey they will have, as they are led to your site.
Where will your ideal buyer come from? What problem will they be looking to solve? When will they convert to an actual buyer?
The journey can be broken up into three stages:
During the awareness stage, customers experience a problem and begin researching it. During the consideration stage, customers have already identified a problem and understand how to solve it. However, they only know they’re committed to finding a solution and have not decided what they will do.
The decision stage is where potential clients have actually decided how they’re going to solve a problem. The best example involves purchasing a product as a means to an end. You should tailor your content and your marketing strategy to meet these different stages.
Navigating the Stages
For instance, you might provide a free e-book for customers in the awareness stage, letting them know what the problem is and how they can solve it. This would push them to move into the consideration stage and finally the decision stage, where you can have other content ready to deal with the shift.
By understanding this journey, you can better understand your buyers, allowing you to choose an appropriate call to action.
Identify Your Investments
At some point, you’ll need to sit down and hash out the length of the journey your buyers will experience. You’ll want to know how much time, resources and manpower will be required to get them to that point.
How do you know you’ve achieved your goal? How long will it take to get there? Answer these questions and then use them to identify the requirements specific to your marketing strategy. Will it cost a certain amount of money? Will you need to continue working for a certain period of time? Is there something else you can do to shorten that journey and convert a buyer sooner?
Choose Your Marketing Channel
Once you know the ideal persona to target, it’s time to decide what channels you will be using to market your products or brand. Which outlet will offer the most effective inbound strategy?
Did you know the life of a Tweet is about 18 minutes, as opposed to the life of a status update on Facebook which is about 5 hours? If you want to content to be visible longer, Facebook is the channel you should be choosing.
There are many channels to choose from. They include things like:
- Business or brand blog
- Email marketing campaign
- Social media
- Guest content
These are just a few examples, but choose a channel that works for you. The goal is to find something that will lead potential customers back to your site. What will entice them to visit? What will get them interested in your products?
Commit to Your Strategy and Stay Consistent
Once you’ve outlined a particular strategy or plan of attack, you need to commit to it. This means scheduling time to ensure you are working toward your goal every day. Stay consistent and continue to go through the motions.
If your strategy is to post social media content on a daily basis, then keep it up. Don’t give up because engagement ratings seem low or let another responsibility take precedence. You need to fully commit to your inbound marketing strategy.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.