Unlike intrusive, outbound marketing methods that solicit potential customers without their consent, inbound marketing seeks to attract people by offering them something valuable — usually information, content, an experience or connection. In the inbound framework, brands don’t go to customers; customers come to brands.
With some intentionality and insight, brands can discover what people are already looking for and give it to them. By creating relevant and helpful content tailored to your buyer personas and the stages of their journey, you can help to address the problems and needs of your potential customers when and where they need it.
Businesses are increasingly recognizing the many benefits of inbound marketing.
Many people spend a significant amount of time and energy on avoiding advertisements. The more marketers try to push their brands, the more resistance they face from consumers. This short-sighted approach negates the goal of brand awareness outreach, which is not only to increase the number of people who know that a brand exists, but also to influence the public’s attitude toward the brand. Rather than inventing new ways to circumvent the ad blockers, spam filters and do-not-call lists, marketers can go a different route and simply create something that people won’t want to avoid.
Inbound marketing involves getting your name out by producing content. Regular output is important, as it keeps your brand in the public view, but quality absolutely cannot be compromised for the sake of quantity. Each helpful post or carefully curated newsletter represents another opportunity for connection, one with the potential to spread organically through shares, likes and recommendations. Brand awareness increases with much less resistance, and customers take away an overall positive impression of the brand.
Consumer loyalty is not won by a single positive interaction with a brand, but by repeated exposure. Each time you solve problems and meet needs for people, whether it be with a simple blog post or with a slickly produced video tutorial, you gain credibility. Over time, these interactions create and solidify a positive association of your brand with relevance, usefulness and value. Customer trust, of course, is invaluable for a company’s survival, and is much easier to lose than to gain. Brand loyalty can spread through families and friend groups and can even become part of a person’s identity.
Naturally, this strategy will only work if you can accurately determine what your customers need and then provide an effective solution. If you have done a good job building your buyer personas and have a good grasp of the marketing funnel, you should be able to create an accurate picture of the interests and needs of your target audience, which you can use to decide which topics and formats to use.
This strategy also depends on your audience being able to easily find your content. Search engine optimization (SEO) comes into play here: Make sure that you understand and use terms people commonly use when searching for the solutions you are offering.
All marketing campaigns hope to generate leads, but all leads are not inherently or equally valuable. The ultimate goal of lead generation is conversion — a consumer fulfilling some kind of desired goal, such as making a purchase or registering for an account. The more likely a lead is to convert, the greater its value; five solid leads are more valuable than 10 leads who are unlikely to convert. It makes sense to focus on generating fewer, more valuable leads over those that are of lower quality.
People who seek out your brand’s offerings are more inclined toward conversion than people you have to go out of your way to solicit. If you have targeted your desired audience at each stage of the marketing journey, you will draw people who already have a vested interest in your product and who are looking to convert.
If your current focus is on outreach campaigns, or if you are running SEO campaigns without considering how they fit within the broader context of inbound marketing, you are selling yourself short. Inbound marketing is a large-scale strategy that can take time to effectively execute, but it will absolutely pay off if you commit to doing it well. Learn your customers, discover how you can meet their needs, produce the content they are looking for, and make sure they know where to find it. The rest will follow.