What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is when a company attracts visitors (hopefully ideal prospects) to their website by creating relevant content via blogs, social media, and search engine optimization (SEO), etc. Traditional marketing such as Print Ads, Telemarketing, Radio Ads, etc. are more costly and less effective in today’s fast paced, internet centric society. Advances in technology, including artificial intelligent, are altering, and evolving how companies do business today. Web users expect and want information to support their buying process including product knowledge instantaneously.
According to FinancesOnline There are currently about 4.66 billion active internet users, which is 60% of the global population of 7.83 billion. Of which, 92.6% access the world wide web using mobile devices. The estimated global penetration is at 59.5% as compared to internet penetration in the US, which is at 90% as of January 2021. This high number of people online goes to show the importance of businesses securing a strong Internet presence and using their website as part of the sales process with inbound marketing techniques.
Differences Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is primarily about being found by the customer, rather than outbound (traditional) marketing that is based on the marketer finding and connecting with potential clients through their ad. For the most part outbound marketing is viewed in today’s information era as interruptive, unwanted, and often “tuned out” by the consumer.
Modern day marketers are evolving and incorporating inbound marketing techniques by leveraging the search engine with optimized website, incorporating relevant “original” content (to satisfy their ideal customer’s need for information) and often promoted through social media. It is not to say that there is no place for traditional advertising, there is. Traditional advertising is still effective for creating top-of-mind awareness due to the repetitive nature of an advertising campaign. When traditional advertising is used for lead generation, it is more expensive (higher cost per lead) than inbound marketing, therefore there has to be a strategic rationale to incorporate a radio, TV, print or direct mail ad in the marketing mix if the goal is lead generation to drive immediate sales.
Internet advertising is less costly that traditional advertising on a per ad basis, but for it to be effective, it has to be done over a long period of time. In conclusion, if you can be patient, and invest for the long term, inbound marketing is the better strategy because:
- Investment in content on the website has longevity
- The long-term ROI is higher
- The content strategy is focused on attracting your ideal customer
- Makes for a better user experience throughout the sales cycle
- Improves the websites Domain Authority
If you need immediate results, then advertising is still an option.
How to create traffic to your website with inbound marketing
First and foremost, the on-page website content has to be indexed and archived in the search engine’s proprietary index. Then you must optimize the websites architecture to make it easy for the search engine to interpret the structure of your website and the content (information) on each page of your website. Which means there needs to be relevant keywords and content for the search engine to match up with search queries (from your ideal customer) to deliver the company’s websites in the search results.
The content on the website has to be relevant to your ideal customers buyer’s persona, shopping interest and need for information. Think of what problems they may have and how they can be solved. Keep in mind the buyers career and what they do, their age, family life, and things they would typically be interested in. If the website has rich-relevant content, it will create interest and traffic to the website and help maintain existing customers.
But it is not enough to be in the search result. You want to be on page 1 of the search result, and ideally in the top 3 (or minimally top 8) of a search result page.
According to a Backlinko study of 4 million Google searches in 2022 show the click thru rate (CTR) for non-branded searches:
- The #1 position on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is 27.6%.
- Positions #2 and #3 were 15.5% and 11% respectively meaning that the top 3 spots garner 54% of the clicks.
The same data suggests a big drop off in click thru rate after position 8 on the SERP which means the goal of any online content strategy is to never be any further down the SERP than position 8.
The data skews differently for a branded-search, where the company name is included in the search. In this case, the #1 positions click-thru-rate increases from 27.6% to 60.4%. Positions #2 and #3 increase to 21.5% and 14.2%. Which means for a branded search, the top 3 positions have a CTR of 96%. The takeaway here is to include your brand name in the on-page copy.
Blogging is an excellent way to bring visitors to your website. People are usually searching for answers online and blogs are a fantastic way to educate. Everyone loves a good blog that is well written, interesting, and shares some knowledge. According to Zipia (Study updated in 2023) there are more than 6 million posts per day, or 2.5+ billion annually. Sounds daunting, perhaps. But you’re not competing with the whole internet. What matters is how many and how often your competitors are posting articles, and the size of your target market that is the more relevant statistic to note when developing your inbound marketing plan.
Frequency is not the only consideration. Relevancy as determined by what your ideal customer is searching for through search engine queries for that is supported by robust answers to the questions often wins the day. In addition to relevancy, is the depth and breadth by which you can demonstrate expertise through original and thoughtful content will go a long way to improving your websites Domain Authority and result in more inbound traffic.
Depending on the age, gender, economic status of your target audience, a social media presence may be used to enhance your inbound marketing. Social Media is an easy way to share the brand, post great content, promotions, surveys, links to other websites and any other basic information. From an inbound marketing perspective, the best way to think about social media is as a distribution network to announce new content on your website, so it can easily be shared and found, and offers the company a chance to get creative and engage customers.
When using social media there are a plethora to choose from, but the most pertinent to the business world are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram. TikTok is also becoming popular, but takes a major commitment in time and resources to post 3-times per day to gain traction. Companies should use the platform(s) that makes most sense to their business. Or said another way, where is your target audience spending time on Social Media? The Pew Research Center, SproutSocial and GWI are examples of data resources.
Email marketing, a hybrid strategy (an ad delivered via an email through the internet) is a low-cost option, and works best if your email list consists of opted in recipients. Conversion rates can be low, so the volume has to be high to work as a strategy. It will be interesting to see how artificial intelligence algorithms will change email marketing in the future, through refined targeting and messaging.
In conclusion: Outbound marketing (email marketing, traditional advertising and online pay-per-click advertising) can be used to augment an inbound marketing strategy to drive traffic to the website, but over the long term inbound marketing will yield a higher return on investment (ROI) than outbound marketing.
How to convert visitors into leads
On the various product or services pages, where you are promoting your offerings, marketers need customer’s information in order to add them to their email lists to nurture prospects and convert leads into revenue. On a website where a blog might be posted there should also be a CTA. These are the actions you are asking the visitor to take, so they need to be eye catching to the visitor on the website. If the visitor wants to engage, they will click on the CTA.
A CTA can be to fill out a form, download an article PDF, request an appointment, view a video, or just read an article. If you require an email to see the content, then you can capture a lead. This is how marketers get customer information and ways to further contact the prospect.
There should be a thank you page in response to a CTA where the company thanks the potential customer for taking the action step. Thank you pages are also great for giving additional information such as up-sell offers or additional relevant CTAs. And, they can help with attribution if the CTA is associated with an ad on a Landing page.
One note of caution, if your website visitor is at the top of the sales funnel (beginning of the sales cycle), they are not likely leave any contact information, so it is important to give them access to some article for free to help develop trust in your brand.
How to close a Customer
Emailing customers is perceived to be not successful or useful, but that is not true. Email is still in high use and part of most Internet users’ daily life. Email is a fast, easy and professional way to maintain contact and nurture a business relationship.
In inbound marketing utilizing email to let prospects and customers know about new promotions, events, package tracking, order tracking, and follow up emails is a critical strategy. It is an effective way to build and keep relationships, and gives businesses a chance to personalize messages to customers. Email can be beneficial when done properly. Always refer to the buyer’s persona, where their needs fall, speak their language, share information, close with a CTA.
Both inbound and outbound marketing rely on marketing, although somewhat differently:
Outbound marketing utilizes the visual image and messaging of the ad to position the company’s brand. By their nature, ads are highly focused with a singular message.
Inbound marketing utilizes the website’s Homepage or product pages visual appeal and messaging to position the brand. However, the website page is not bound by space and time. You can make the page layout as long as you need or want, and the visitor can spend as much time as they want perusing the information. The website page can address many aspects of the brand like what you do, why people should buy from you, present reviews, describe products and more.
Websites create an opportunity to build an online relationship with the visitor by educating, informing and building trust, in a way that is harder to do with an ad. Ads, however, do help maintain top of mind awareness, so they still have a place in the marketing mix.
Inbound marketing keeps up with the current Internet world and allows companies to track trends to continuously optimize content, target the ideal customers’ online behavior for the search for information. By creating relevant “original” content on websites, blogs, social media, and optimizing these platforms ultimately draws visitors/potential customers to websites. Inbound marketing gives customers the chance to choose what is best for them based on information they find about a company. Inbound marketing is the way to go in today’s fast-paced internet driven shopping culture. And, it will only get more so as AI technology is more integrated into the inbound marketing process.
If you would like to learn if inbound marketing is right for your business, call us at (484) 318-8160 to schedule a FREE consultation online or at our office in Malvern PA.
About the author:
Cary Baskin is the owner and managing director of The Marketing Department, a marketing agency dedicated to helping clients build their brand, target their ideal customer and generate leads through their website and internet marketing. He has personally guided the development of more than 100 websites and helped hundreds of clients navigate the challenges of marketing their business on the internet.
As a member of Chester & Delaware County SCORE speakers’ bureau Cary has lectured in-person and through webinars numerous times on Internet Marketing, Website Development, Search Engine Optimization and Branding.