sales and marketing

When considering your marketing strategy, are you paying enough attention to your inbound efforts?  

Traditionally, organizations have focused on reaching out to their potential customers rather than drawing them in. But you need to do both. 

In this blog, we’ll talk about what inbound marketing is, how it differs from traditional outbound marketing, and how to do inbound marketing right.

What is Inbound Marketing?  

As we mentioned, inbound marketing is a way for your company to attract and connect with customers by offering them interesting, valuable content they want to engage with.  

The goal is to bring potential customers to you by creating material that they want to see—rather than explicitly “selling” to them. It’s a more natural way of fostering and maintaining long-term relationships with your customers. 

The heart of inbound marketing is high-quality content. You want to create content that people want to see—and that doesn’t feel like a sales pitch through and through. This is where content and social media marketing is especially important. 

Examples of inbound marketing include blog posts, social media engagement efforts, eBooks, whitepapers, informational webinars, and SEO. The digital content you create should be focused on educating and entertaining your audience, not pitching a product.  

Related: Moving Beyond Generic in the World of Marketing

Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

We alluded to outbound marketing a bit earlier, but here’s the real difference: Whereas inbound marketing is focused on bringing customers to you, outbound marketing (also known as “push” marketing) is focused on getting your message out to potential customers. 

We mentioned that inbound marketing is primarily focused on high-quality content that is not sales-driven or product-specific. On the flip side, outbound marketing is entirely product-oriented. It’s a way of clearly stating “Here’s what we’ve got” and attracting customers by pitching them a high-value product or service. 

Both absolutely have their place, but both have very distinct goals. Inbound marketing is focused on relationship-building, creating brand loyalty, and increasing brand visibility. Outbound marketing is focused on reaching a wide audience and generating quick sales. 

Examples of outbound marketing include paid advertisements, billboards, cold outreach, email campaigns, and commercials. You’ll notice right away that outbound marketing efforts—though profitable in the long run—can be very costly upfront. You’ll always want to weigh the potential revenue against your initial investments, as these efforts can quickly deplete your budget.

Related: Which Comes First, The Budget or The Strategy?

Doing Inbound Marketing Right

While outbound marketing is focused on getting one message to a big audience, inbound marketing is all about talking to the right people. The first—and most important—step of your inbound marketing strategy should be identifying your audience. 

Conducting buyer interviews is one way to do this, so you can clearly understand what your audience is after, what influences their purchasing decisions, and what might keep them from making a purchase. 

Marketing leadership—such as a fractional CMO—is especially helpful during this research stage, so you can make sure you’re speaking with the right people using language they’ll respond to.

From there, the bulk of your inbound marketing work will happen. This stage is all about creating and distributing engaging, interesting content—like eBooks, blogs, videos, webinars, and the like—that speaks to topics your audience cares about. 

If you’re addressing questions they already have, your audience is much more likely to find you. And if the content you create is interesting, they’re much more likely to stay. It’s simple in theory, but this phase is all about building relationships that will take you to the next stage: buying. 

Converting prospects to customers also involves inbound marketing strategies, such as providing social proof, offering discounts, using targeted email campaigns, and providing personalized support through their purchasing process.  

And because inbound marketing is all about the long-term picture, your customers’ journeys don’t end at the buying stage. You want to keep them around by providing excellent customer service, encouraging customers to leave reviews, and gathering feedback through surveys. 

Related: Connecting With Customers 101: Why It’s Important For Marketing and Sales

Launch Your Inbound Marketing Strategy 

Ready to kick up—or kick start—your inbound marketing journey? Don’t try to do it alone. 

A fractional CMO can help you through every stage of the approach. From interviewing prospects to developing high-quality content to closing sales, you’ll want strategic leadership every step of the way. 

Here’s the good news: A fractional CMO gives you all the benefits of a full-time CMO but at a fraction of the cost, so you can dedicate your marketing budget toward more high-value initiatives.

Click here to schedule a free consultation with one of our fractional CMOs to get started.

Need guidance knowing how to best use AI to enhance your marketing approach?

 Check out The Role of AI in Marketing for practical advice and insights from real-world peers.

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