Advertisements are less effective than ever before but the need and the desire to make purchases remain. Consumers look for reviews and advice online and the effects of this trend can be seen in consumer habits. We can see the phenomenon of webrooming, when the purchasing cycles starts online with product comparisons and ends in a physical store as well as showrooming, when consumers look at products in a store and then make a purchase online. Since so many purchasing paths involve an online component, businesses need to be positioned to take advantage of this fact.
Maintain presence online and in the minds of consumersThis is where inbound marketing comes in. This is what makes it easier for consumers to find you and your brand. Inbound marketing, unlike its outbound opposite, is a more subtle and less invasive form of marketing. This doesn’t mean that inbound marketing is passive, though. Its role is to stimulate interest in a company or brand through the content that it makes available.
What kind of content? It could be an e-book, webinar, podcast, content on forums, social media posts, articles, blogs and a long list of other formats. Content is indeed king and getting in front of customers is the first step towards building new relationships. Inbound marketing activities are all about increasing the online profile of your brand and, more importantly, making the consumer’s decision-making process easier. But before you get started on creating your content, it’s worth carefully examining who your potential customers are to better understand what they’re looking for and what they need to make their decisions easier. Inbound marketing should feel like a conversation. When you understand the needs of your customers you can deliver the content that matches them – all for free.
Knowledge and advice
Educating consumers before you try to sell them your solutions helps to build trust in your brand. The numbers back this up – companies that publish on a blog at least once a month generate 77% more leads and 97% more links than those that don’t. It often happens that despite supplying valuable content, consumers choose your competitors. Marketers have come to understand that inbound marketing alone is not enough, it needs to be complements with outbound activities as well. Both streams work together to achieve the same goal – consent from customers to send commercial messages.
When does inbound turn into outbound?
If you generate and share content, try to turn anonymous customers into self-identified customers that join your subscriber database. This will allow you to deliver better content that is more adapted to their needs. You can offer things like e-books in exchange for the email address of those interested in your product or service. This kind of solution allows new subscribers to share their addresses in exchange for getting access to knowledge and materials that interest them and businesses get a chance to better understand their needs. From this point, your activities may switch from inbound to outbound to get better results. According to data from Act-On, expenditures on both types of marketing are very similar. About 48% of marketing budgets go towards outbound activities and 44% to inbound. Also, 84% of marketers say that both channels fulfill their roles. On top of all that, inbound and outbound strategies generate about the same number of leads. A report from Demand Metric Research tells us that 60% of marketers view blogging as the most effective tool for inbound marketing. All this data points to the same conclusion – that both marketing approaches have a role to play in your marketing efforts.
Inbound + outbound = success
When you obtain consent to send commercial messages to subscribers, you can start to automate your marketing activities. Automating certain aspects of your campaigns saves time but also optimizes your work. Start with planning example scenarios and rules that you will use as a framework for your communication with customers. If, for example, a customer downloads your e-book, set up an automatic message thanking them and inviting them to ask any questions they might have. Choose the right moment and start sending potential customers personalized content.
How about a newsletter informing subscribers about new content on your blog and other useful information? This is a great combination that helps consumers to deepen their knowledge about your product and helps the decision-making process. Depending on the field you’re in, you can employ different solutions. Create a folder with promotional products along with instructions on how to use them. Or maybe a clever use of video marketing? Create an e-book explaining how your system works or offer a test version of your program. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, you can create great, engaging content for your customers and make it available to anyone looking for help or answers. All of these options work towards the same goal – getting your offer in front of the right customer and making the conversion. This is how you complete the journey from initial customer interest through building trust and a relationship all the way to a transaction.
The bottom line is that connecting inbound and outbound marketing efforts gets the best results. Delivering value is important but so is recognizing the moment when you should add outbound strategies as well so be sure that both components play a role in your marketing strategy. Make it easy for potential customers to find you online so that you can later deliver quality content adapted to their expectations. Analyze the behavior of your customers and automate your activities to increase the effectiveness because, as they say, if content is king then context is God.