Inbound marketing can help you reach the people who are most likely to benefit from your product or service. Let's look at how you can put it to work in your business.
In the traditional marketing space, there’s a lot of talk about inbound and outbound marketing. But in the online marketing world, these terms aren’t as well known, which means that many online marketers are missing out on an important way to reach potential customers.
Outbound marketing and inbound marketing are two of the most common marketing concepts you can use to reach your prospects. But with the hundreds and thousands of advertising messages that consumers receive daily, how can you reach the people you need to talk to?
In this post, we’re going to unpack the fundamentals of inbound marketing, as well as the inbound journey that consumers make, from being a stranger to your brand to a promoter of your business.
Inbound vs Outbound Marketing
Simply put, inbound means people come to you while outbound means you’re sending messages to everyone within your reach.
Outbound marketing is the traditional form of marketing from back in the days when the internet didn’t exist. During that time, marketers would blast ads out to anyone. One good example is TV ads. When a commercial airs, the message is blasted to a large community. Ads that go to the mass market fall under outbound marketing.
Outbound marketing isn’t limited to TV or radio ads. Cold calling and conventional door-to-door sales are part of this strategy, too.
In the digital age, outbound marketing has become a bit more sophisticated. Some marketers would buy an email list and send emails to all those on the list. Basically, the business running this campaign has no idea whether the people receiving their ads are even interested in what they’re offering.
Inbound marketing works differently from outbound marketing. It involves creating content and using the power of social media to build brand awareness. When done correctly, your audience will learn more about you and show interest in what you’re offering, whether it’s a product or a service.
The 5 Phases of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is a cost-effective strategy that can help businesses and brands attract potential clients.
When customers decide to buy something from you, they’re not only considering the price. Their decision is also affected by their connection to you and your business.
It’s not just about the features of the product or the service. Consumers also consider if you’re trustworthy or if they want to work with you specifically.
Let’s dive into the five phases of inbound marketing:
1. Stranger Phase
Consumers don’t know who you are. They haven’t seen or heard about your brand. There’s no connection at this phase, which means they’re unlikely to buy from you.
2. Prospect Phase
Consumers are like acquaintances. They know who you are, but they’re not yet interested.
At this point, they’re still trying to learn more about your brand. A prospect can become a buyer through word of mouth or something similar, but this doesn’t involve any action on your part.
3. Lead Phase
When consumers become a lead, they have shown interest in your business. They want to be part of your community or perhaps your email list or Facebook group.
4. Buyer Phase
In this phase, consumers have purchased from you. In most cases, leads take a lot of time before they become buyers.
5. Promoter Phase
This is the final phase. Although anyone can become a promoter at any of these stages of the inbound journey, a consumer often becomes a promoter when they reach the buyer phase.
A promoter basically tells others to check out your business. Leads can also be promoters, but buyers are more effective since they’ve purchased and tried your product or service.
5 Types of Content to Create to Move People Along the Journey
After the five stages of the buyer’s relationship with your brand, you also need to understand the actions you’re taking to help your clients move along their journey. This is where content comes into the picture.
What is content? In terms of inbound marketing, content is an asset that helps people identify the real problem. It could include creating blog posts, videos, or podcasts. It could also mean email marketing or social media engagement.
At the awareness stage, people don’t know what their problems are. They may be experiencing some signs, but they have no clue what they mean. Awareness content helps people identify the real problems from their symptoms.
Thought Leadership Content
This involves creating content that will help people see you as an authority. You need to talk about things that will make you stand out from your competitors and figure out your core differentiators. Thought leadership content will help you establish yourself as an expert and make people trust you.
Aside from getting consumers to trust you, you also need to help them get to know and like you. People want to buy from someone they know and like, so building a connection with them is important.
This phase involves placing your business in your customer’s list of choices. It will help consumers understand the pros and cons of each of their options.
Conversion content, also called decision content, is content that helps people decide to make a purchase.
The Core Elements of an Inbound Marketing
Let’s look at the different parts of an inbound marketing strategy.
Content marketing is about developing a strategy for your blog, podcast, or YouTube channel. It’s a perfect way to create awareness and thought leadership content, which can also be helpful for people who are already in your world.
You can also use content marketing to build connections and create consideration content. Basically, content marketing is about helping people understand you and decide whether they like you.
Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is where you promote your content. It will help you build awareness and thought leadership. You can also use it as an element of the connection phase, allowing people to experience you and your personality.
As you create connections through conversations and comments, you’ll also be building the know, like, and trust factor.
Social media can be used for targeted consideration and conversion discussions, like when someone sends you a private message to ask questions that can help them make a decision. These are the people who have already said yes, they want to hear about your offer.
Getting people onto your list is a critical piece of the inbound marketing model because this is a turning point. This is where someone wants to be a lead and go on a journey with you.
Email marketing is one of the best channels for connection, consideration, and conversion content. It’s where you really connect with people.
When you’re selling, email marketing can also be used in the conversion. It’s where you tell people now is the time to buy.
Your closing channel could be a private event for people who have already raised their hands. It could be a webinar, a private podcast, or a sales event where people know you’re going to talk about your product or service.
Strike A Balance
Inbound marketing and outbound marketing have their benefits and drawbacks. The key is to strike a balance. Now that we’ve done a brief overview of the basics of inbound marketing, we’ll dive deeper into each concept in future posts.
In the meantime, if you want to learn more about how inbound marketing fits into your overall marketing strategy and how to build a business the right way, join BADA$$ Online Marketing University. It’s a completely free program we created to help you learn how to build your online business the right way.