Outbound Is Out: Why Inbound Marketing Works and How to Do It

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Some things you know you need. With others, you only realize after the fact that you've been missing out. Inbound marketing is like that.

Some things you just know you need, like a house or food in the fridge.

But there are other things that one might consider a luxury, say a Nespresso coffee machine or underfloor heating, that you believe you’re OK without.

That is until you get one and then flummoxed, you ask yourself: "How the heck did I ever survive without it?"

Inbound marketing is a lot like that.

Outbound strategies still have their place. Some people still sit through the ads on TV, and cold calling apparently still yields results. Though not a lot mind you. According to the Harvard Business Review, it only works nine percent of the time.

In spite of this, some companies (or their old school CEOs) are still resisting the wonder that is inbound marketing. Business2Community says it’s because they either don’t know what it is, they don’t understand how content can drive sales, or they don’t have the resources to oversee it in-house.

Whatever their reason (or reasons), the benefits are difficult to exaggerate. I’ve outlined eight of them below and included some hard to dispute facts just in case you have any naysayers in your midst that need to be hauled back from the dark side of outbound.

Related Article:Not So Trendy: 3 Online Marketing Strategies That Are Never Going Away

1. You’ll Generate More Leads

Unless you’re subsistence farming off the grid, you’re going to care about leads. Properly nurtured, they’re tomorrow’s paying customers. You know this. But what you might not know is that an inbound marketing strategy will generate 54 percent more leads than an outbound one. That’s 54 percent more potential customers considering your product or service over some else’s.

2. It’s More Cost-Effective

Leads are important, but as anyone in marketing will attest to, they come at a price. Generate a lead through outbound marketing and the price tag is in the region of $350. To make matters worse, many of these leads won’t amount to anything. Are your eyes watering yet?

You might not convert every single lead with inbound marketing, but at least you’ll be wasting significantly less money on them. According to HighTable, the typical cost of generating an inbound lead is $143. That’s less than half that of an outbound lead.

3. Outbound Engagement is Poor

You can pour your heart, soul, and bank balance into making the best TV ad ever, but 86 percent of people will still use it as an opportunity to do a fridge run. Likewise, you can craft a direct mail shot worthy of a Pulitizer and 44 percent of recipients won’t even open it.

The deafening silence, the not knowing, these things chip away at your confidence. With inbound marketing, you can leave this world of indifference behind and instead enjoy the novel concept of bringing customers to your metaphorical doorstep.

4. Returns are Significantly Better

If you’re still on the fence, then perhaps this research from HubSpot will convince you. Their findings revealed that 79 percent of companies with their own blogs report positive ROI for inbound marketing. I’m not talking about some fancy SEO-optimized blog or a celebrity blog either, just your common, garden-variety blog.

Those bloggers also receive 97 percent more links to their website. This increases their blog’s domain authority, which increases page rank, which increases the chance that a search engine user will click on a site.

5. You Can Make Money from Tweeting

And there you thought social media was purely for stalking your high school crush and watching videos of cats squashing themselves into boxes. It is (let’s not discount its value as a time waster), but when used correctly these platforms can be an effective way to turn a profit.

Eighty-two percent of hyper-growth SMEs claim that Twitter, Facebook, and the rest are effective for generating new leads. I thought that would make you sit up and take notice.

6. It Will Turn You Into a Deal-Closing Maven

Remarkably, the blathering zombie of outbound marketing shambles on, generating a 1.7 percent close rate for those few leads it accumulates. That’s just sad. On the other hand, leads generated from organic search remain as vital as ever: with these, the close rate hovers around 14.6 percent.

7. Customers Want the Real Thing

We’ve seen many entertaining and persuasive advertisements over the years: Old Spice’s the man your man could smell like, VW’s memories advert, the most romantic wedding proposal ever, and countless others. But they’ve definitely lost some of their power. You might enjoy watching an ad, but that doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly be overcome with the desire to buy what it’s selling (except maybe for some Old Spice).

What it comes down to is that people don’t always trust the motive and word of someone who is paid to not just sell a thing, but to oversell it. Which would you rather have? Useful information from a company or a tired pitch tried out on a hundred other customers every day?

Hint: only one of them is going to leave you feeling better inclined toward the company. Eighty percent of decision-makers prefer to read a series of articles than a bunch of advertising collateral and given how dumbed down most ads are nowadays, it’s not hard to see why.

Related Article:How to Build a Strong Online Marketing Strategy from Day One

8. Then There’re the Millennials to Consider

Whatever your take on them, Millennials need to be a consideration in your marketing strategy. They have buying clout and they know what they want. And for the most part, “old media” doesn’t factor into it.

Fewer than three percent let traditional outbound marketing influence their purchasing decisions, so if you need to reach these guys, you’ll want to do it on their turf and inbound marketing is the only reliable way to do it.

There you have it. Eight rock-solid reasons to embrace inbound marketing. You probably didn’t need any, but maybe you work with someone who still thinks doing it old school is the only way to go. Remind them about Bjorn Borg’s attempted wood racquet comeback and then send them this.

How to Implement an Inbound Marketing Campaign

Now that you know why inbound marketing is really the only way to go, you’re probably wondering what to do next? The first thing you need is a platform from which to launch your campaign. We use HubSpot (here’s why), but there are lots of others to choose from.

Next, implement HubSpot’s practical guide to planning a successful marketing campaign. They take you through the process in detail and have included related links at the end of each section to ensure you smash it (did I mention, we’re in love?). To give you an idea of what you’re in for, I’ve outlined the eight step process below:

Identify your audience

There’s a reason this is step one. You have to know who your marketing efforts are aimed at it in order for them to be a success. Millennials will respond to one thing, boomers to something entirely different.

Set benchmarks and goals

The key here is to be specific. Saying you want to "get more sales" or "make more money" is aspirational. You need something you can measure, like "generate 1,000 leads who are interested in inbound marketing by December 31, 2016."

Choose keywords and optimize for search

Determine the keywords you want to rank for and then place them wherever appropriate (headlines, content, URLs, etc.). Whatever you do, avoid keyword stuffing. Google frowns on it and your readers will see right through it.

Create a tracking URL

At the end of the campaign you’ll want to do a post-mortem to see what worked and what didn’t. A tracking URL will help with that.

Develop offers and landing pages

Once you’ve laid the foundation of your marketing plan, it’s time to create an offer, something to entice potential customers to your virtual doorstep. You’ll also need a landing page to convert them (think of it as inviting them in for tea).

Choose your promotion channels and get the word out

Decide how you’re going to get the word out. Options include email, blog posts social media, paid search and so on. What you go with will depend on your resources and budget.

Nurture leads generated through your offers

Converting a lead doesn’t mean your job is done. You need to nudge your prospective customers along with the help of follow-up emails until they eventually reach a point where they’re receptive enough to take a call from someone on your sales team.

Report on your results

The final piece of the puzzle. Once your campaign is up and running you’ll need to revisit your original goals to see how well you're doing. Using analytics, you’ll be able to see where you need to course-correct to improve results.

Related Article:Make It Work: How to Fix 5 Common Online Marketing Strategy Mistakes

That’s it. Inbound marketing in a not so small and by no means exhaustive nutshell. Go forth and market.

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