Inbound marketing has countless advantages and is an effective way to reach the wary consumer today. But, all too often, companies devote all their talent to tackling the market from that one single-angle. Inbound is great, but sometimes a broader approach might be more useful.
This got me wondering: is inbound really enough? Does it provide enough support for small and medium-sized companies that want to grow quickly and efficiently? I came to the conclusion that it’s not enough.
I look at inbound marketing as a marketing foundation to be built upon, rather than a stand-alone, independent strategy.
Instead of relying on inbound marketing as an exclusive marketing strategy, my experience has taught me that taking a holistic approach to marketing and integrating multiple strategies and methods is more effective in achieving revenue growth. So, what all should we include in our marketing plan?
Table of Contents
- 1 What is inbound marketing?
- 2 Inbound Marketing – Hey, It Does Work.
- 3 Outbound Marketing
- 4 Events
- 5 PPC Advertising
- 6 Don’t Sell Your Company Short
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is the process of helping potential customers find your company. Inbound marketing frequently happens before the customer is ready to make a purchase. If you make a contact early in the buying journey and you create brand preference, more leads, and better sales conversion.
Inbound marketing is a strategy that utilizes many forms of pull marketing. For example, digital marketing like content marketing, blogging, events, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, website design, and more.
Outbound marketing seeks out customers, inbound marketing focuses on visibility, so potential buyers come to you. Instead of “renting attention,” through advertising only.
Small businesses are employing inbound marketing focus on new methods geared toward building awareness, developing relationships, and generating leads.
Inbound Marketing – Hey, It Does Work.
Nobody is saying that inbound marketing isn’t effective – especially in today’s world where the consumer has limitless content options and full control over what they choose to consume.
According to HubSpot, 86 percent of consumers skip through television ads and 91 percent of email users unsubscribe from a company email. The old interruptive forms of marketing where advertisements are forced in consumers’ faces isn’t always the best option anymore.
Marketing is becoming less about disruptive one-way communication and more about having a conversation. Inbound marketing helps to build the path for consumers to find you through content creation.
Try this quick quiz to gage your knowledge.
When you decide to tackle inbound marketing, keep in mind that it can take time to get right and start seeing results. Content creation is an intensive and often times intensive process that requires research, planning, and SEO strategy (to ensure your content actually gets read).
You’ll need to refine a technique for content creation in order to reach your audience on a more personal and effective level.
When you put a content engine in place and create awesome blogs with an abundance of helpful information, conversion-designed CTAS, and beautiful landing pages with enticing offers, then you’ve got the inbound machine rolling.
But, what if your company is freshly established with a brand-new website and a limited database? If no one knows who you are, it’s going to take a while to get people to your site through pure SEO and email marketing – and a lot of us don’t have the time or the money to wait for the traffic to slowly build.
Outbound marketing is a form of marketing that aims to push out your company’s message rather than trying to bring in new customers through content.
Below, I’ve included a sample of some highly effective outbound marketing strategies that you can integrate with your inbound marketing to create better connect with your ideal customers.
Having a solid relationship with the media boosts your credibility and drives visitors to your site. Not to mention, when you get a press pickup, it often includes a link back to your site which can help to boost your domain authority and help you achieve your SEO goal of getting to the number one spot on the Google SERPs.
Digital PR is another great way to help you build your online presence and gain backlinks for your website. Digital PR is essentially the same as traditional PR in that you build relationships with online writers to get media hits or backlinks. Some specific tactics include distributing traditional press releases, guest blogging for other sites, and conducting outreach to offer up your current content as a resource for other blogs.
A key component of digital PR is that, before you do any outreach, you should make sure the website you are contacting has a strong domain authority (DA)– we recommend a DA of at least 30. Domain authority shows the site’s credibility, and it’s best to get backlinks from highly credible sources. Google may actually penalize you if you receive backlinks from untrustworthy websites.
With the rising popularity of social media, bloggers and influencers have become a valuable source for additional outside marketing in the B2C world. Social media influencers bring the benefit of a large, devoted base to engage with your content.
Influencers also strengthen user loyalty to your brand. When users engage with a relatable blogger/influencer who has personal experience with your product, they are much more likely to trust and appreciate the interaction.
A strong social media presence can be incredibly powerful. But, making the most of your social media presence doesn’t just mean pumping out content three to five times a day. There are a couple of steps you need to consider before you start creating social media content.
Set Your Goals.
First of all, determine what your company’s goals are for the account. Brand awareness? New leads? Who are you trying to reach? You should have a solid understanding of who your target audience is before you set up any social media accounts. This requires careful thought. You should consider the demographics, psychographics, and emotional desires of your target customer, but you should also know how and when they like to consumer information.
Define Your Audience.
By understanding who you’re trying to reach, you’ll be able to design a more effective social media strategy, because not all social media channels are the same! You need to be able to tweak your messages to fit the form culture of each individual channel that you are active on. In fact, you may not need to be on some social media channels at all.
For example, if you are a B2B manufacturing company, there’s no need for you to spend time developing a presence on Instagram – use those resources to build up an incredible LinkedIn profile.
Once you’ve established the basics, you need plan and organize your content for each channel to ensure you’re distributing timely, relevant content consistently. Luckily, there are tons of free templates online to help you organize your content in a schedule and post to the appropriate channels. Check out our social media content calendar here if you need some help with organization.
Measure and Analyze.
Careful attention to detail and planning will help to get your social media machine up and running, but that’s only part of the equation. You need to make sure that you are collecting your social media data in order to analyze the effectiveness of your practices and develop methods to revise results if needed.
Now it can be argued that inbound marketing and social media are connected, but everything you actively push out to bring people in constitutes outbound marketing.
Sometimes called experiential marketing, marketing based around designed events can be an effective way to reach out to your customer base on a personal level and create a more intimate connection.
Entrepreneur defines experiential marketing as, “Work done with retailers and brands to connect directly with shoppers – usually through an event that happens inside a store or externally in the community… Experiential marketing can range from anything from us handing out samples in a store, to staffing grand opening celebrations, to being behind the truck of a mobile tour.”
There’s something to be said about the human connection and being able to meet face to face with a person. If your company visits trade shows and conferences, those locations would be the perfect place to design a cool and engaging event to draw in your audience and engage them on a different level.
For example, years ago, I worked for an IT services firm, and we’d sponsor and exhibit at a particular event that resulted in 75 percent of the practice’s revenue. Sure this is atypical, but it means you can’t rule out the value of some industry events that target your customers.
My last outbound marketing tactic is a bit newer in the marketing world, but it’s proving to be highly effective. PPC advertising, or pay per click advertising, is a digital marketing tactic in which you advertise within a search engine’s sponsored results by bidding for the keywords connected to your product.
If you win the bid for your word, then your product or service will be advertised at the top of Google’s first page of results (as seen in the picture below).
One great thing about PPC ads is that you’re able to hone in on your target audience through geo-targeting and by bidding on keywords that your ideal customer uses to search for your product or service.
You also only have to pay if someone clicks on your ad, which means the majority of your ad spend is only going toward people who are actually interested in your company.
For more information on PPC ads and to see if they’re right for your company, check out our previous blog: Intro to PPC: A Beginner’s Guide to Pay Per Click Advertising.
Don’t Sell Your Company Short
Inbound marketing is a great foundation, but to accelerate your performance, you need to consider other ways to drive and engage your audience.
By diversifying your marketing methods with inbound and outbound marketing, you can reach a greater audience by connecting with them through different channels and presenting your products or services during opportune moments.
Use tactics that are tailored to your specific audience, and you’ll see that your integrated marketing efforts help you generate quality leads and close sales most efficiently.
This article was originally published in September 2015 but has been republished for new understanding and clarity. Update 2021.