Outbound marketing efforts can be effective for some businesses, but pouring time and money (not to mention frustration) into cold calls or direct mail campaigns requires lot of work for very little return. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, generally provides companies with more qualified leads since you’re bringing interested prospects directly to your doorstep. Here’s what you need to know about how to generate better leads with a higher likelihood of conversion.
Inbound vs. outbound marketing
There are stark differences between outbound marketing (the traditional way of doing things) with inbound marketing (the newer, inovative way). Outbound marketing requires pushing your products or services onto potential customers and hoping they’ll bite. Examples include radio and television commercials, direct mail, billboards and banner ads. It can be viewed as interruption-based marketing since it’s being thrust upon users, and unless it’s being seen by a large, demographically ideal audience, conversion rates are usually measly.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, earns the interest of potential customers over time, primarily through relevant content. Rather than being an unwelcome annoyance, you’re communicating with them in a place where you already have permission. You’re helping them naturally become interested in what you have to offer without being harassed by a pesky salesperson. Examples of inbound marketing tactics that bring more qualified leads include social media, blogging and creating search engine optimized-content.
The inbound marketing sales funnel
Before you deploy inbound marketing strategies, it’s wise to understand the marketing and sales funnel, which maps the buyer’s journey. At a high level, it looks like this: Stranger -> Visitor -> Lead -> Customer.
At this start, when someone is a stranger, they haven't heard of your business. In the second step, they're attracted to your website, perhaps by asking for recommendations from a friend on social media or from searching on Google. They are now visitor. Once you have them on your website, the next step is to convert them into a lead with a strong call-to-action. This is often done by encouraging prospects to complete a contact form on a landing page or sign up for your email list. You may offer an incentive, such as a free ebook, to encourage these leads to hand over their contact information (and show your subject matter expertise).
Best inbound marketing tactics
There are plentiful tactics you can use to drive your inbound marketing efforts and receive more qualified leads, most of them far less expensive than traditional outbound methods. One of the best and cheapest strategies is social media, which helps you display expertise and interact with countless potential customers. Don't waste time on every social platform, but aim for those that are best suited to your audience. If you're selling a B2B service, you'll be better off focusing your efforts on LinkedIn. If you're trying to promote a consumer product, Twitter and/or Facebook are better outlets.
Having a blog is another key tactic. Not only does a blog give your business the opportunity to share helpful information and establish thought leadership in your industry, but it's hugely helpful for SEO. You should also optimize your website for search, and consider creating a landing page with a strong call-to-action, whether it's to fill out a contact form, sign up for your email list or learn more about your product or service. Capturing email addresses is key for nurturing leads. Prospects who find you and sign up for your email address are now excellent leads you can woo with even more compelling, helpful content. Consider sending weekly newsletters that focus on helpful tips or news, downplaying the selling of your product. You could also try a drip campaign to encourage leads to make a purchase.
Inbound marketing is not only cheaper than old-school outbound marketing, but it's effective at earning more qualified leads, and sales prospects are far more receptive to these more subtle and relevant tactics.