You’re sitting at home on the sofa, tucking into the third packet of biscuits, when you decide – that’s it! It’s time to start exercising again. You load up YouTube, fancying a go at yoga this time, and find a series of yoga classes for beginners. There are 30 days of classes; all completely free, high quality and expertly taught. Perhaps you don’t even notice to begin with who made the classes until a friend asks. You look it up – it’s a well-known exercise clothing brand. At the end of your 30 days of classes, you decide to purchase a pair of their yoga leggings as a reward for yourself. Guess what? You’ve been subject to an inbound marketing campaign.
You enjoyed the classes so much that you look out for more. You’re now spending half an hour of your day, every day, following classes which feature an instructor who is wearing the exercise clothing brand’s clothes. You think they look great and you love your yoga leggings so you get some more. You tell your friends. You have now become a loyal customer (and a free advertiser) of the company.
Not all inbound marketing campaigns look like this (or are as successful as this example…), but they all have the same thing at their heart – the production of high quality content. But what is inbound marketing? Here’s everything you need to know…
Inbound Marketing Is All About Attraction
Attraction is the key difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing. You can think of outbound marketing as content that appears in front of you whether or not you are interested. This could be in the form of billboards, TV adverts that disrupt the flow of your favourite programme, or social media ads that interrupt your scrolling. You may see these adverts and think, ‘Yes! That’s what I’ve been looking for!’ or you may ignore them and continue with your day. Either way, they appear in front of you, like it or not.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, attracts you to the brand. It involves producing valuable content that potential customers seek out and enjoy, attracting people who are interested and sending them on the journey towards eventual purchase.
Take our yoga example. What attracted you was the yoga classes, which you actively sought out. You weren’t searching for a pair of yoga leggings – though you did eventually buy some. If a Facebook ad had popped up on your feed at that time showing you a pair of yoga leggings, would you have bought them? Probably not.
Which takes us to…
Why Choose Inbound Marketing Over Outbound Marketing?
The problem with this question is that every company is different, and different marketing tactics will be needed for each individual company. On first glance, inbound marketing will look like a lot of work (and it is), and the road to potential sales a long one (it can be). Outbound marketing, however, can leave you with juicy clicks and sales almost immediately. So, why would you choose inbound marketing? Here are the benefits:
- Your content is here to stay. Once it’s made and published, it is accessible forever (or until you take it down). When you’ve paid for the initial content creation, you don’t have to spend anymore money keeping that content online, unless you choose to, unlike with outbound ads where you have to keep paying in order for people to keep seeing it.
- Earned media. This is a fancy word for shares – whether on social media or in news publications. It’s essentially media that you don’t need to pay for – you’ve earned it by creating great content. Very few outbound marketing campaigns get shared around, whereas inbound marketing content is hugely shareable. Back to yoga again. Would you share the Youtube videos? Probably – they’ll bring some value to your friends and family. Would you share a Facebook ad for exercise clothing? Probably not.
- There’s a lower risk of annoyance. With outbound marketing, you send your message out to huge numbers of people, and some of them may very well not appreciate it. With inbound marketing you can avoid feelings of annoyance at your brand because your customers are actively seeking you out.
- It’s cheaper than outbound marketing. Ads are expensive, and because of this inbound marketing costs 61% less per lead than outbound marketing.
There are huge benefits to inbound marketing, and the results speak for themselves. That said, your company may need a mix of both. I know that, sometimes, getting a Domino’s leaflet through the door is just the kicker I need to order from them, so we’re certainly not saying that inbound marketing is the only thing that works. But if you don’t have an inbound marketing strategy, then you are missing out.
What Is An Inbound Marketing Strategy?
Inbound marketing can take many different forms, depending on the audience your particular business has. When you’re putting an inbound marketing strategy together, you’ll want to research your audience first and discover the types of content that they like to consume. You’ll want to think about the buyer’s journey and at what point they’ll make the purchase. Let’s use the example of a company that sells a paint sprayer for garden fences. Here’s what their buyer journey, following an inbound marketing campaign, might look like:
The customer is aware of a problem – their garden fence looks horrible. They might be googling things like ‘how to improve my garden fence’. They’ll be reading listicle blogs, looking at social media (such as Pinterest) for ideas and looking at guides.
The customer has now defined their problem – their garden fence needs to be painted. They’ll be searching for ‘best way to paint my fence’, and they’ll be viewing how-to videos, reading technical blogs and seeking out expert advice.
The customer is now aware of the various strategies for painting a fence, including using your paint sprayer. They will now be on the hunt for customer case studies, demos and competitor comparisons to decide if yours is the right one for them.
After a customer has made the decision to purchase from you, you need to delight them. This is a really important part of inbound marketing. This is where you go above and beyond to create a great experience for your customer and encourage them to use you again (or shout about you to associates). It can include things like follow up emails, gifts and discounts.
The Types Of Content You Might Want To Consider…
The great thing about inbound marketing is that there are so many amazing content types that you can use to attract your customers. The overwhelming thing about inbound marketing is that there are SO MANY amazing content types that you can use to attract your customers…
Unless you have a huge marketing team or have hired an agency, you’re not going to be able to do loads of these. The key is keeping it consistent; pick a few and keep at them for long enough for you to assess whether or not they are working. You can always add more at a later date.
Here are some of the most popular types of content:
For an inbound marketing campaign, your social media shouldn’t just be sharing your products or services over and over again. Instead, aim to create social media content that provides some value for your audience. This will depend on your business type, but it could be content that’s informative (like infographics), funny, eye-catching or cute. Give your followers a reason to follow – and, hopefully, share.
Digital marketers have been shouting about blogs for a long time now, and with reason. A regularly updated blog is a great way of answering questions, sharing knowledge and attracting new visitors to your website.
Video has been on an upward trend for years, and it doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. People like people – and vlogs put a face to your business.
Another growing content trend is for podcasts. The key for creating podcasts that work is dedication – release new episodes regularly so listeners can look out for them, and keep them interesting.
Evergreen content is an important part of any inbound marketing campaign, and eBooks are superb evergreen content. They may take a long time to make, but the value they can provide to your potential customers is huge. Plus, you can request that people join your mailing list in exchange for receiving the eBook, which is an easy way of moving them further on in their journey to becoming a customer.
Email is a great content tool which is often used wrongly. It’s vital to have a strategy and nurture your hard-earned email contacts with content that they actually want. This doesn’t mean bombarding them with photos of your products three times a day.
Putting Your Content In Front Of Your Ideal Customers
Listen, attracting customers to you with your superb content is all well and good, but the internet is a big place. If you’ve spent lots of time making insanely good, purposeful content then you want people to actually see it. Sometimes it can feel like shouting into a void – particularly if you’re in a crowded marketplace. If you’re fed up of making content and only having one or two views, here are some tips:
Work On Your SEO
Most people head to Google to find out whatever it is they want to know. If your blogs are going to show up in front of them, ideally on the first page (88% of people click on one of the first 10 search results), they need to be properly optimised for Google. This includes utilising keywords, ensuring your content is the right length and ensuring images are labelled correctly. We’ve written about SEO extensively here.
I know, I know. I said that ads were outbound marketing. There’s an important difference, though. With Facebook ads, you can target people with your free content. You’re not asking them to buy outright, you’re attracting them with things they’ll like, such as your podcast or your eBook.
Share, Share, Share
When you’ve put time and effort into creating an awesome piece of content, it needs to be shared as widely as possible to reach as many people as possible. Get it on Pinterest, share it on your website, email the link to your nan. Love your content, and be the first to shout about it.
Marketing is evolving. The online world means that we can reach more people than ever before but, without targeting effectively, that also means that we can annoy more people than ever before. Inbound marketing is an awesome way of attracting customers who will buy from you already feeling positive towards you and your products. They won’t feel as though they are taking a risk in buying from you – they come to you already trusting, already valuing and already loyal.
It takes work. Building an effective inbound marketing strategy takes a lot of time and effort. It needs research, planning, and, of course, all of the time involved in creating content that your potential customers actually want.
But it’s worth it. This is the direction that marketing is heading in, and if you don’t start considering it for your business, you’re going to get left behind.
So, stop what you’re doing right now and do a quick audit of what content you have that brings value to people. Check your website and all of your social media feeds. What do you have that attracts prospective customers to you (other than your great products or services)? If the honest answer is nothing, then don’t despair! It just means that there is a huge, untapped audience out there waiting for you, your knowledge and your excellent content. Treat that as-yet-untapped audience well and they could just become your most loyal customers. This is the benefit of inbound marketing.
Want ideas? Help? Tips about great yoga videos on Youtube? We’re available. Give us a call or book yourself in for a free consultation below.
Our Creative Content Specialist, Harriet Young, is a prolific blogger, Instagrammer and (almost) published author. A self-confessed book addict, Harriet loves to read, write and photograph books in her spare time - a hobby which transfers beautifully into her role of writing creative content for our wonderful clients.