Inbound marketing is a concept that has both positive and negative connotations. Like everything else, marketing has evolved with technology and has made great strides, especially in the inbound marketing arena. Today, my focus is on helping you understand what is inbound marketing and what are inbound marketing channels.
For people (consumers) that perceive inbound marketing as something negative, it entails the tricks and schemes that businesses sometimes deploy to trap people into buying their products. Pipedreams, exaggerated sales pitches that promise the whole world turn people off.
On the other end of the spectrum, if used correctly, it is the easiest way of connecting with your ideal consumer-base. For businesses, inbound marketing is the bread and butter because no matter how remarkable their product is, if they can’t spread the word to the right target audience, they won’t sell.
- Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
- Inbound Marketing Strategy (Do’s and Don’ts)
- What Are Inbound Marketing Channels?
- 1. Blog Writing – Creating Content to Attract Consumers
- 2. Social Media – Engage With Your Target Audience
- 3. Website Content and Optimization – Make It Easy For Potential Consumers to Find You
- 4. Paid Ads and Landing Pages – Targeted Marketing with a High Conversion Rate
- 5. CTAs – A Potent Conversion Tool
- 6. Email Campaigns – Nurture Your Lead and Build Long-Lasting Relationships with Your Consumers
- 7. Reviews – Make or Break for a Business’s Online Reputation
- 8. Customer Service – Go Above and Beyond to Turn Consumers into Brand Advocates
- How Our Content Writing Team Can Help Leverage Inbound Marketing Channels
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Before diving into inbound marketing channels, it’s imperative to understand the difference between inbound and outbound marketing.
What is Outbound Marketing
The conventional channels of marketing that our older generations relied upon, i.e., TV, print, and radio ads, billboards, and pamphlets, can all be considered channels of outbound marketing. Outbound marketing helps you get the word “out.” It’s one-way marketing, where you are advertising your product and services. It has served businesses well for centuries, but most outbound marketing techniques are now becoming obsolete.
The reason for this is while outbound marketing is effective, it’s also limited. It allows businesses to reach out to their consumers, but it doesn’t let them forge meaningful and long-term connections with their customers.
That’s where inbound marketing and inbound marketing channels come in.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is a way for customers and consumers to engage with businesses in what is essentially a two-way street. Just like businesses can reach out to their customers (potential and existing) via ads, customers can find them and connect with them through their website and social media accounts.
Inbound marketing is a business methodology and a combination of channels and techniques that help businesses attract and draw customers towards them. With inbound marketing, businesses focus on establishing an attractive online presence and creating value for their customers so that customers reach out to them and not just the other way around (that is the case with outbound marketing).
Inbound Marketing Strategy (Do’s and Don’ts)
There is no universally accepted inbound marketing strategy or methodology, but almost all strategies are focused on different levels of consumer engagement. If we go with the formula that Hubspot propagates for inbound marketing, we have three basic elements for formulating an inbound marketing strategy:
Attracting Consumers: It involves leveraging various inbound marketing channels and enticing potential consumers towards the business website and the content a business has created and published on various channels.
Engaging the Consumer: Inbound marketing is two-way, so no matter who approaches first (you approach the consumer or consumer approaches you), the other side responds. You can reach out and engage your customers through various social media channels and respond to their views and queries regarding your business. They can reach out to you through your website, reviews, and testimonials, and you can thank them or respond to their issues via customer support.
Delighting the Consumer: A happy consumer can be a powerful brand ambassador, and an angry consumer can damage your business’s reputation, especially now when most people read reviews before making a purchase decision. For optimal results and maximum ROI, you have to ensure that the customer is not just satisfied with your product but is delighted by your customer support and your after-sales treatment.
What Are Inbound Marketing Channels?
Outbound marketing channels are becoming obsolete because they relied quite heavily on one-way messaging. A business published an ad, and they had to rely on that, their existing reputation, and word-of-mouth for their outbound marketing to bear fruit.
It was one of the reasons why it was difficult for new businesses to establish a presence in markets dominated by house-hold names.
Inbound marketing channels focus on establishing communication between you (a business) and your potential and existing consumers. If you are still unsure about how inbound marketing works, looking at some inbound channel examples might help clear things up.
Some of the most extensively used inbound marketing channels are:
- Blog posts
- Social Media
- Website and SEO
- Paid ads and landing pages
- Email campaigns
- Customer service
Let’s take a deeper look into these inbound marketing channels.
1. Blog Writing – Creating Content to Attract Consumers
Blog writing is one of the most tried and trusted inbound marketing channels. With a regularly updated blog that’s full of helpful content and useful information (on topics relevant to your industries), consumers of your target pool are bound to find you.
Every blog-post you publish is like route potential consumers can take to reach your business.
A business that uses blogging can generate an average of 67% more leads than a business that doesn’t. How? Because people nowadays use internet searches for everything. From mundane decisions like what to eat to important (and expensive) decisions like which car to buy, people rely on the internet to provide the answer. And if your blog pops up every time (or most of the time) a search related to your business is executed, people will start recognizing your name.
Also, if you can produce high-quality, authoritative, and helpful content through your blogs, it will generate trust, and they might feel inclined to try your products.
2. Social Media – Engage With Your Target Audience
Social media management for business is the ultimate route to two-way communications and is therefore an ideal inbound marketing channel.
On your business’s social media channels, potential customers can find you and interact with you. They can send you a message, like your posts, give honest reviews about your products and services, and make purchase decisions based on what others have written about your business.
Your social media engagements can be more effective than several other marketing channels and funnels combined. Your potential and existing consumers can send you messages on social media, and every message is a potential lead. If you respond promptly (or within a reasonable time-frame) and adequately, you might just win a sale for your business.
Social media can also be a powerful customer support channel. If you can resolve queries and answer concerns of the customers who are not satisfied with your products on social media, it will project you as a business that genuinely cares about its consumers.
Ideally, you should have a presence on all social media platforms (at least the most widely used ones), but you can expend more effort on the platform(s) where the largest and most active pool of your target audience spends their time.
3. Website Content and Optimization – Make It Easy For Potential Consumers to Find You
An optimized website, designed for easy navigation and brimming with SEO-friendly content is likely to rank higher when someone executes a search that relates to your business and products.
To utilize this channel properly, you have to start with identifying your target audience and create consumer personas. After that, you will have to do your keyword research and figure out the phrasing your potential consumers would use when searching for your products and services.
You can learn a lot from your largest competitors and optimize your website to rank higher than them. Local SEO can also be a dear friend, especially if your content projects a sense of community. This will make you more relatable to your local audience.
Understand that SEO is an ongoing process. You can’t just optimize your website once and be done with it. You have to keep refreshing your content and keep adding more helpful (and high-quality) content to your website to retain your higher rank and traffic.
If the quality drops, you will lose authority points, and your ranking might start to sink. Focusing on snippets (both text and video) and audio queries (which are increasing with devices like Alexa becoming so commonplace) can also help you rank higher.
On-page optimization and creating a website that is easy to navigate is important. It improves the possibility of conversion and makes it easier for search engine crawlers to comprehend your website.
4. Paid Ads and Landing Pages – Targeted Marketing with a High Conversion Rate
You might ask: Aren’t paid ads part of the outbound marketing channels? They are, in a way. Conventionally, you’d pay for ads to be published in newspapers or to be run on TVs.
Now, you pay for ads to appear on search engine feeds and social media feeds of your target audience. But that’s exactly what makes paid ads on the internet different from conventional outbound marketing.
The previous generation of paid ads was outbound in nature because they were projected for a large, non-segmented audience. They were helpful for relatively few viewers (and readers) and annoying for most others.
Now, if you are paying for ad real estate on Google searches, your ad will appear only to those who’ve searched for something relevant. Similarly, paid advertisements on social media are highly targeted, and your ads only appear on the feed of potential consumers who are your ideal target audience.
This increases the chances of conversion significantly. And another major game-changer is the accompanying landing page. You can control where your audience will land on when they click on a paid ad and if it offers the information, product, or service they were looking for and ticks other boxes as well (price, services, delivery, etc.), you are likely to get more conversions.
This is why it’s always recommended that you create different landing pages for different offers and make it easy for a potential consumer to find the product they are looking for because if they have to navigate through your website to find it, they might bounce.
5. CTAs – A Potent Conversion Tool
Call-to-actions aren’t exactly inbound channels by themselves, but they are an essential element of almost all inbound marketing plans. They come in various shapes and forms and on a spectrum of “persuasion” scale. From direct and straight forward call to actions like “Call Now” or “Buy Today” to subtle nudges, CTAs can be in various shades of subtlety.
Which CTA you should use would depend on your audience, the stage of the marketing funnel they are at, and what kind of “conversion” you are expecting to achieve.
You might just be interested in having them sign-up for a newsletter, or you might be looking to sell them your product. Each conversion might require a different CTA tactic.
This is a great opportunity for us to do a CTA ourselves!
6. Email Campaigns – Nurture Your Lead and Build Long-Lasting Relationships with Your Consumers
There are various ways a business can build an email list of potential customers. With marketing campaigns, lead magnets (reports, webinars, checklists, etc.), incentives, and gated content, you can ask your potential leads to share their email.
Once you have an email list, you can warm these leads up and nudge them through various stages of your marketing funnel with a targeted email campaign.
The best way to go about it is to segment your list. Prepare personalized emails for each segment. The idea is to inform them about the problems your product fixes without appearing too “salesy.”
If you can create compelling subject lines, offer personalized greetings, a significant portion of your email list is likely to open and read them. If your email contains solutions to the problems your consumers might be facing or you are offering them customized and exclusive deals, you can achieve a lot of conversions.
Email campaigns act as an inbound marketing channel because, at first, the consumers reach out to you and give you their contact information, and then you reach out to them with your emails.
7. Reviews – Make or Break for a Business’s Online Reputation
Reviews can be the most potent inbound marketing channel for most businesses if you can deal with them properly. Reviews are how your existing customers share their experience with your product and services. If they are positive and genuine, they help other potential consumers make up their minds about doing business with you.
Please note, more than 90% consumers read up on online reviews before making a buying decision. If most reviews are negative, it portrays a dreary picture and is likely to turn many potential consumers away from your business.
Reviews rely quite heavily on the quality of your product and services, so that’s what you have to focus on. This is marketing by elevating your quality.
Your responses to both positive and negative reviews are also an important marketing factor and at the crux of this inbound marketing channel. Your customers have reached out to you via their reviews, and how you respond to them says a lot about your business ethics.
8. Customer Service – Go Above and Beyond to Turn Consumers into Brand Advocates
Customer service is one inbound marketing channel that pre-dates the internet age. It became part of the business landscape with the rise of telephones. Good customer service rewards a business with repeat customers, whereas bad customer service turns existing and potential customers away.
A customer can contact you for anything. Maybe they need help using your product; they might want to give feedback, or they can call you (or text or email you) with their complaints. Your goal should always be to satisfy your customer and make things right for them.
You do that by resolving their complaints as swiftly as possible. Quick responses and helpful replies can earn you a lot of goodwill from your consumers and turn them into brand advocates and advertisers. That comes under delighting the customer. With customer service that (if possible) goes beyond the market norms and trends, you can observe amazing returns from what is already an essential part of the business and not an isolated marketing channel.
You might still have questions regarding inbound marketing channels. Here are the answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions.
What Does Inbound Marketing Include?
Inbound marketing includes attracting customers to your business via content marketing, social media marketing, SEO, and opening two-way communication channels. It’s more user-centric than outbound marketing.
Why You Need Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing helps you build long-term relationships with your consumers, and establishes you as a trustworthy and reliable “source” of information and product within your industry. It also helps increase CLV (Customer Lifetime Value).
Why You Should Focus on Inbound Marketing?
Compared to pure outbound marketing, inbound marketing is more affordable and offers better ROIs. It also helps you increase your consumer-base overtime and offers maximum retention.
How Our Content Writing Team Can Help Leverage Inbound Marketing Channels
A sound inbound marketing strategy and focus on inbound marketing channels should form the core of your overall marketing plan. Unlike outbound marketing that leads to sharp spikes in returns and temporary rises in consumer-pools, inbound marketing provides long-term success.
Thanks to the two-way nature of inbound marketing channels, you can deliver products and services that your consumers are actually looking for and keep them engaged. It helps you meet consumer expectations and build long-term business relationships. If you want to put down deep roots within your industry and keep growing over time, you need the long-lasting impact that inbound marketing channels can create.
To get the most out of your inbound marketing strategy, you need high-quality content. Expert writers with industry knowledge and the ability to step into the shoes of your target customers, is the need of the hour. Our content writers are all that and much more!