You’ve probably heard the term “inbound marketing,” but did you know that it can be a high-impact way to provide value and encourage a prospect to purchase?
Inbound marketing can reduce friction points in your sales process by creating more informed buyers. Done right, it can increase the chances of the buyer (informed and ready to purchase) coming to you. Plus, it can decrease the amount of marketing you push out and the lengths you have to go to chase down sales.
Let’s dig into inbound marketing and uncover why it’s good for your customers and great for your marketing efforts.
The Case of the Car Seat: Inbound Marketing in Action
Let’s visualize inbound marketing with an example of a young couple expecting a baby. They find themselves stuck on the important decision of which car seat to buy for their new arrival.
In this example, the young couple is actively searching for a solution to a problem (ie, a safe car seat for their baby). In their search for an answer, they Google “best car seat.” They discover a checklist of everything to look for in a car seat provided by Graco, the car seat manufacturer, on its blog. After they read the post, a call-to-action (CTA) invites them to live chat with a representative who can help them pick a car seat based on the newfound knowledge provided by the checklist. The couple chats with the representative and ends up buying a car seat from the Graco website.
This is inbound marketing. It is also referred to as content marketing. Inbound marketing seeks to add value to the consumer journey through content that educates and informs.
Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing
Pull vs. Push
In traditional outbound marketing, we work to push a message to an audience. With inbound marketing, we flip the approach and aim to pull in prospects by creating magnetic content that adds value to their lives. In our example above, the young couple was pulled into the company’s blog because it offered the buyer’s guide checklist for car seats. Instead of convincing them to come look at its car seats, Graco aligned its content to a topic prospects would be seeking, and in the end, earned the sale.
Value vs. Sales
The first objective of inbound marketing is to provide value to the user. This builds trust and credibility for your brand. The goal is not to sell directly, but to progress the buyer to the next stage of their purchase journey, which may be a phone call, an online chat, a form to fill out, and so on.
In the digital age, most buyers have already done a ton of research on a product by the time the company becomes aware of the buyer’s need. Inbound marketing will increase the likelihood of your buyer including your product in their final consideration set. This in turn increases the chances of your business making the sale.
Helpful vs. Interrupting
Outbound marketing is “interrupting” by nature. It seeks to interrupt your experience with its message. For example, you’re scrolling your Facebook feed and see a traditional (outbound marketing) ad with a photo of a car seat and a sale price. You weren’t actively seeking car seat solutions, but there’s the ad “interrupting” your Facebook feed.
On the other hand, inbound marketing tactics seek to help buyers locate information. Envision the difference: Instead of the car seat ad, you scroll through Facebook and see a sponsored post for a buyer’s guide checklist. It’s more helpful based on your current stage in the buying process, so you click, engage, and reach out to the company. Instead of the interruption of the traditional ad, the checklist is welcome and helpful.
Related Article: 5 Lead Generation Ideas That Repurpose Content You Already Have
Less Pushy, but Not Passive
Inbound marketing can be a key component of lead generation. While you should keep most of your inbound content ungated to encourage engagement and consumption, you can use inbound marketing for lead collection.
For example, you should make your blog content available to read without giving up personal information like an email address for access, but you may provide CTAs for next steps that do require contact information.
An example of this is a blog post that includes a call-to-action for a related webinar that requires registration to gain access.
Ta-da! There’s another score for inbound marketing!