With more and more small businesses finding growth and expansion through online marketing, it goes without saying that the market is pretty much oversaturated. Everyone’s vying for attention and—thanks to how advanced communications technology as gotten—everyone has the budget for it. Inbound digital marketing is just one of the multiple avenues you—as a business owner—can use to organically increase traffic and build up your following, but it’s also an avenue that’s employed by hundreds of entrepreneurs like you.
How do you hope to have a fighting chance?
By fully understanding inbound digital marketing so that you can better utilize it.
It’s a pretty hefty topic, so we’ll cover just the bare essentials for now.
Two Marketing Directions: Inbound vs. Outbound
No one has ever mistaken digital marketing for something simple and straightforward, but it can be categorized into two major factions: inbound digital marketing and outbound digital marketing.
According to HubSpot, inbound marketing focuses on drawing in potential customers through relevant, high-quality content. The idea is to get customer’s to find you and add value to their overall experience with your company by using platforms such as blogs, search engines, and social media networks.
Outbound Marketing, on the other hand, focuses on reaching out to potential customers via digital and conventional forms of media. This kind of approach is considerably more aggressive than inbound marketing, and it uses more traditional channels of advertising i.e. TV commercials, flyers, catalogs, print ads, radio ads and cold calls.
In the digital sphere, email spam can be considered a form of outbound marketing.
Inbound draws in, outbound reaches out.
Inbound digital marketing is a passive method that involves putting out bait that can only lure those that are genuinely interested. Unlike outbound, it does not have to actively fight for consumer attention.
Inbound Marketing in 4 Steps
Inbound marketing generally has four stages. As the potential customer goes through each stage, he/she gets closer to your brand. The ideal scenario, if the person goes through all four stages, is to turn a complete stranger into either a customer or a promoter.
The four stages are:
Attract—get the attention of potentially loyal consumers by putting out high-quality content that is relevant to them i.e. content that matches their interests, content that is pertinent to their query, or content that solves a problem/issue they currently have.
Convert—once you’ve attracted visitors, you want to convert them from passive guests to high-quality leads. This involves actually reaching out to them and initiating a conversation to find out what they’re looking for and how you can potentially provide it.
Close—this is where leads are converted into actual customers. For this to happen, you need to close a sale. This is a delicate stage for most marketers and entrepreneurs, because no one likes being sold to. The trick is finding the right tools, the right time, and the right approach for each potential customer.
Delight—if you want your customers to stay loyal, you can’t just leave them at the Close stage. To do so would be off-putting … and definitely the wrong way to build a long-term consumer base.
The Delight stage is all about customer support and satisfaction. Nurture your relationship with your customers with consistent care, content, and conversation. The more you take care of your existing consumers, the higher the chance of them bringing in other high-quality leads through referrals and recommendations
Generating Leads through Inbound Marketing
Based on the four stages, it’s safe to say that inbound digital marketing is basically creating connections through content. These connections start with high-quality leads. We mentioned earlier that inbound marketing uses channels such as blogs, social media networks, and social engines to jumpstart the Attract stage. Here are a few real-life examples:
Proper Social Media
There is probably not a soul alive right now that doesn’t have at least one social media account. Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Tumblr, musical.ly … regardless of which platform your target market uses, the fact is that they’re there. They’re already gathered in one platform that you also have access to.
A lot of marketers underutilize social media. They think consistent posting and cross-sharing is enough to generate organic leads. Logically speaking, if that’s all they’re doing, they’re never going to make it past the first stage.
If you want to convert your Facebook or Twitter followers into leads and—eventually—potential sales, you need to go through the rest of the stages. You need to actively engage with them, build a relationship with them, create a genuine brand-consumer connection with them, and then nourish that relationship for a long-term loyal consumer.
Real talk: if you’re just using social media to attract potential leads, you’re not going to get very far.
Quality Content Offers
Putting up content offers is a slightly more aggressive approach to the very impassive inbound marketing method. However, if done correctly, it can yield generous results.
Content offers refer to free pieces of content that are different from what you usually post. They’re often higher in value, larger in scope, or far more extensive than your typical 1000-word blogs. Some common examples are: comprehensive research studies, white papers, ebooks, webinars, real-time demos, hour-long consultations, printable guides, “X Steps to” references, and the like.
These “bigger” or special pieces of content are meant to up your attraction and lead generation rate through several ways. For instance, you put your eBook on sale, 50% off plus free shipping “for a limited time only,” or “while supplies last!”
This creates a sense of urgency that encourages visitors to act immediately, lest the miss out on the opportunity.
Another example; you’re a health coach and weight-loss expert. In the ‘Services’ section of your website, you have a link that allows people to book a free, 15-minute consultation with you where you will address some of their health concerns and draw up a rough recommended diet plan or workout regime based on the information you can glean from them in 15 minutes.
This creates a sense of excitement, especially with people who would love to have that sort of information for free.
Knowing where and when to place your content offers and how to phrase them kills two birds with one stone—or two stages with one method, as the case may be. These content offers both attract potential consumers and convert them into leads almost instantly.
Inbound digital marketing has the potential to exponentially increase your organic lead generation. It also has the potential to be a complete waste of your resources … if you fail to fully utilize it. Understanding the tool is the first step to harnessing its power in full. Ergo, if you want inbound marketing to work for you, you need to use it correctly.