Why inbound marketing over outbound marketing?
Ownership. Respect. Relationships. These are the three reasons why I prefer inbound marketing over outbound marketing.
I'm a big fan of having an ownership. Ownership over my time and how I spend it. Ownership over how I obtain information, educate myself, and evaluate options before I make a purchase, whether it is for my personal life or professional life. I assume my target audience would want the same thing. And I totally respect that.
I hate receiving cold calls. Cold calling is one of the outbound marketing examples. To those people who call me, I am one of the hundreds, if not thousands, on their list to call and sell to. They call me at their convenience (not mine but theirs) and ask me to stay on the line so that they can give me a sales pitch. It seems they don't care that their call can disrupt a meeting, a meal, or time with my family. I find it annoying and disrespectful. This is not how you build relationships with your target audience. Relationship building happens not only between humans but also between a brand and their customers.
You respect your target audience's desire to move through their buying journey from education to evaluation to purchase on their term. You want to provide relevant content to help them throughout the journey. Your target audience notices and respects your effort. You get to build trust and relationships with your target audience. They choose your business over your competitors when they do arrive at the purchase stage of their buying journey.
This is how inbound marketing works.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is letting your target audience come to you when they want and need your expertise, guidance, service, or product. The best way to do this is by doing content marketing. It involves: 1) creating content that your target audience is looking for; 2) publishing it on your website; 3) search engine optimizing your website and each page; and 4) letting people visit your website to consume your content.
The types of content you publish on your website include blog posts, videos, white papers, ebooks, and podcast episodes. You want the nature of the content to be educational and informational rather than promotional. When you constantly and consistently fill the information gap your target audience has, they rely on you to obtain the necessary information to make informed decisions. This definitely leads to your business building trust and relationships with your target audience. Which company would they think about when they are ready to purchase? Yours.
What are inbound marketing best practices?
Consistency is the key. Just like the relationships between humans, it takes time for your business to build relationships and trust with your target audience. To ensure consistent content marketing, establish a cadence (ex. publishing blog posts twice a week, every Tuesday and Thursday) and create a content calendar (ex. which topic to talk about on each blog). Expecting a big return on investment of your content marketing after just few weeks or months is simply not realistic. It takes time.
Another best practice is adding the next steps to each content you publish. What would be reasonable next steps for your target audience to take after they consume the content? It can be consuming another related content (ex. reading related blogs or watching a demo video), subscribing to email newsletters, signing up for a free trial, or booking a call. When you have additional something to offer (you always do, by the way), don't shy away from offering it to your audience when you have their attention.
For more details about content marketing and why it is important to your marketing's long-term success, have a look at this blog: Why is content marketing important to marketing’s long term success?