If you’ve done any reading on marketing on the interwebs you’ll have heard these terms. So what’s what?
Inbound means the consumer comes to you. They are searching for a solution for a need or want they have and they’ve found that you do it. They initiate the contact with you. While it’s every business owner’s dream to deal with flocks of people interested in their product or business, when starting out, it seems impossible. With the right strategies, though, you can make it happen. This is especially true in this day and age where technology allows business owners to produce and distribute high quality valuable information in a cost effective manner.
Inbound marketing is what every business, salesperson, and marketer should focus on, simply because it can be so lucrative. But this is generally a longer term strategy. It’s the stuff you need to be doing now, to attract the customers in 3+ years time. It’s the stuff that generates long term business value.
Some of the most effective inbound sales and marketing strategies focus on content. After all, if you’re going to have flocks of visitors to your website, Facebook page, etc., you better have some exciting and compelling content to get them there. Areas to focus on for inbound marketing;
- Google Ads
- Content marketing
- Email nurturing
- Social Media
This what old-school marketers call sales and advertising. It’s the door to door sales person and covers all of the styles of advertising you would expect from top name companies, such as direct mail, telemarketing, print advertising, and more. What makes outbound marketing so different than inbound marketing is the fact that it’s interruptive. An interruptive method of marketing and advertising makes you step in front of the consumer in the middle of their day, whether they like it or not. Examples of this include TV and radio commercials, website and app pop-up ads, billboards, direct messages on social media, cold calling “reaching out”.
When you take a look at the most effective strategies being used today, you’ll notice that most outbound techniques are digital instead of physical. In order to stay strategic, you’ll want to frequently analyse where your target market spends most of their time. In today’s day and age, that’s likely to be on the internet. The outbound strategies we find work are;
- Paid Ads
- Direct Messaging
But as you’ll know from your own experience, most of these ads are boring and have little cut through. That’s why you need a compelling offer to get attention – and no it doesn’t always have to be a price reduction. Offer them an answer to a common and important issue/topic that you deal with – make it such a good deal they would be crazy not to click on it.
It’s not an either, or. To be successful in growing your business you’re going to need a mix of both inbound and outbound marketing. I’m not saying that you need to be cold calling. But I am saying there are parts of both inbound and outbound that you need to find that suit your target market, brand and offering. Finding that right mix is key.
Here’s a couple of ideas that generally do well;
We touched briefly on the importance of content marketing, and we’re going to do it again. In fact, we’ll talk about it until we’re blue in the face because it genuinely is the key to the modern-day consumer. You need to remember that your customers have a life outside of you. They need to do the groceries, clean the bathroom, get that report done for work, book a holiday, organise date night, spend time with the kids, wash the car, keep fit, eat healthy etc. So shockingly, they’re not always thinking about you and that thing you do that could help them. So they need to be reminded.
That means you need to have content that reminds them that you’re there, doing that thing you do. So when they need that thing you do, they come to you.
Content creation doesn’t just mean blogs, it can include, press releases, videos, tweets, status updates, photos, emailers, and more.
The key to content is that it it can’t just be crap for contents sake. Recycling the same blog you’ve bought from a supplier, that also sells that blog to your competitors is in my opinion fairly worthless. Instead focus on creating unique content specific to your business, your staff, your product, your brand and your voice. Don’t be afraid to be different. People remember different. And that is the whole purpose of producing content. So that when your target customer needs the thing that you do, they remember you!
Are they going to remember you if you’re producing content and your brand messaging is just like everyone else who does the thing you do?
Piggy-backing on the content marketing train is SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It works in association with online search engines (like Google. And Yahoo. And Bing, if you’re the kind of person to use Bing). Google has a particular algorithm that determines which web pages and links show up first when a word or phrase is searched. This algorithm awards top spots to the pages with the most accurate, diverse and valuable information. So if you want to get to the pointy end of the search results, then you need to have accurate, diverse and valuation information on your site for searchers to read.
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PPC (pay per click) Advertising
One of the best outbound strategies to use is PPC advertising. Every time that your advertisement gets clicked on (or depending on the platform “viewed”, you pay a fee. It’s a fairly cost effective way to get your offer out there and it’s surprisingly effective, especially in this day and age. Essentially, if any portion of your target audience resides on sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you’ll want to take a look at the PPC options they have available: sponsored posts get more views and clicks than content promoted organically. So rather than obsessing over your follower count and what you should post to get the most engagement, consider creating an offer for pay per click advertising. It is an excellent choice for smaller business or new marketing teams because you can set your limit per day or per word to help manage your budget while gaining a lot of useful data! They key is to have something that of value to offer your targets. You can’t just hav ean ad saying hey where here – how many of those do you click on?. You need a compelling reason for people to click on the ad. Address an issue your target market has
“Hey you – yeah you, Stuck at the office.
Then get your chops around this deal delivered to your office. Just click this and you could have this in your face in 20mins”.
Then once they’ve clicked on the ad and gone to the offer page, you need to have a compelling offer for them to take up. There’s no point paying for someone to click an ad and then send them to your generic home page. Sending them there means they have to join the dots, and people are lazy. Do the work for them. Send them to the specific offer you made in the ad. Like in the example above, you’d send them to the “Office Delivery Offer” page where they can get dinner delivered to their office in 20 mins for $15. Enable them to check out and claim it easily. The more dots you require them to join the less likely they are to do it. You’ll make it all to hard and they’ll just duck to the café downstairs before they shut and get that wrap that’s been sitting there for the last 12hrs because it’s easier.
You know when you’ve downloaded something, or signed up to a customer loyalty program or whatever and then they send you emails with stuff you might be interested in? Or stuff you’ve put in your wish list or cart & tell you the price has dropped? Yeah, you can do that too. And it doesn’t have to be annoying or overly frequent. But email marketing is one of the most cost effective ways to keep in touch with people who have expressed an interest in what you do.
Use the emails to send them the valuable content you’re creating each week/month. Send them an email to say happy birthday. You don’t need to offer them something or give them a discount every time. Obviously you don’t do this manually. You get some software (like Infusionsoft, Active Campaign, HubSpot et al). Write the emails, set up the conditions for when an email will be sent and the software does it for you while you do other stuff.
Email marketing is great if done right. Don’t spam people, don’t scrape email addresses from websites and send them unsolicited junk. But do use it to offer people who have expressed an interest in what you do valuable content and offers that are win win.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the best inbound and outbound to use in your business. (If not, what were you reading? Go back and try again. We’ll wait.)
When you decide to try out these techniques, remember to spend some time researching your audience. Beyond that, I also recommend that you thoroughly document the data you gain from utilising the strategies above. Keeping your data organised and documented means, you’ll be able to learn about your audience, tweak your methods, and ultimately, succeed. Obviously we’re not a marketing agency, but we do enough of our own marketing and see what our clients are using, and who is getting results to know a thing or two. So as part of our business consulting service we know when you need an agency and when you need you don’t.