Paid advertisements are typically relegated to the world of outbound marketing, but this can be a major marketing mistake. Paid advertisements, when properly executed, are not only able to compliment an inbound marketing strategy but are vital to its success.
Inbound Vs. Outbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is a term (and strategy) founded by HubSpot, one of the leading SaaS (software as a service) developers. They are even the only current provider of inbound marketing certification. Per their website:
“Inbound marketing is about creating valuable experiences that have a positive impact on people and your business… You attract prospects and customers to your website and blog through relevant and helpful content… You engage them using conversational tools like email and chat and by promising continued value… You delight them by continuing to act as an empathetic advisor and expert.”
Outbound, on the other hand, tends to cast a wide net over a group of prospects who are loosely targeted. One notable example of a traditional outbound marketing technique are cold calls, which many know as telemarketers. Sometimes they have your number because you filled out a form stating you were interested. Many times, your information was sold, and these callers are simply hoping you may be interested. It is a more “interruptive” technique, where you place your company in front of individuals versus drawing them to you.
HubSpot also nicely sums up the difference between these two:
“Unlike outbound marketing, with inbound marketing, you don’t need to fight for your potential customers’ attention. By creating content to address the problems of ideal customers, you attract qualified prospects…”
How to Use Paid Advertisements for Inbound
Although paid advertisements are often thought of as an outbound marketing technique, they provide real value to an inbound strategy. The difference in how these two are used is subtle, so slight alterations in the way you’ve used paid advertisements previously for outbound campaigns can make them effective for your new strategy.
Below we discuss some of the most effective ways you can ensure your paid advertisements adhere to the inbound marketing strategy while still garnering results.
Target Your Audience
For starters, you’ll want to use paid advertising platform’s audience targeting metrics to hone in on your specific audience. Instead of simply targeting all users between the age of 18 and 60 in a 30-mile radius of Tampa, Florida, you would need to zero in on that a little more.
In this same scenario you might decide to target consumers between the ages of 25 and 45, who live in a 30-mile radius of Tampa, are female, and who own a dog. By zeroing in on your ideal customer base, your message is still getting to the right people – hopefully at the right time.
Make Them Complimentary
Instead of using paid advertisements on their own, focus on using them as a complimentary marketing method for specific things. For example, if you have a post which is already doing exceptionally well on your Facebook page you could boost that post. Why? Because if it does well with your current audience, chances are high that your potential audience would also find it of value.
You can also use paid advertisements on search engines to help increase traffic to well-performing blog posts, landing pages, or other valuable content. This will help you to reach a wide group of people who still fall within your defined target audience. As such, you are still providing helpful, valuable content that wouldn’t be considered disruptive.
Consider Campaigns to Target Specifics
Here is where you may find that the worlds of outbound and inbound overlap. Consider focusing at least some of your paid advertising campaigns on specifics – such as products or services. While all of your content is geared towards these, placing them in front of your audience in an obvious manner is sometimes a good way to remind them what the content is being provided for.
This isn’t to say you should focus all your energy on disruptive techniques – but they can play into an inbound campaign just as easily as an outbound one when properly executed.
Where should you start focusing? Begin with your top two or three best-selling products or services. Since a wide portion of your customer base is purchasing these, it is safe to assume that those you are trying to attract will also be interested.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, your next few campaigns should focus on those products or services which are your lowest-selling two or three. They may only be the lowest because your customers have not yet been introduced to them.
Additional Tips for Successful Paid Advertisements
- Keep your message brief and to the point. Remember that viewers generally only scan paid advertisements, so if it can’t be read in a few seconds it isn’t going to generate as many leads as it could.
- Catch the attention of your audience immediately. Use bold words and eye-catching imagery.
- Keep your brand story clear. All paid advertisements should be aligned with your branding so that it is immediately obvious it is your company vying for customer’s attention.
- Be unique and think outside of the box. Instead of repeating what your competition is saying, think of a new way to present the products or services you offer.
- Don’t be too clever – your slogan should be obvious. For example, Head & Shoulders’ slogan is “you get rid of dandruff.” It tells customers what the product is supposed to do, and thus, attracts those customers who need to get rid of dandruff.
Summing It Up
Despite being relegated to the world of outbound marketing, paid advertising can be an effective, viable part of an inbound strategy as well. When properly executed paid advertisements have the potential to bring value to your target audience and assist in converting them without being disruptive. It takes only a small shift in your original outbound techniques to make this work for an inbound company.