Inbound Marketing: The New Way to Sell
Ever since advertising came into being, consumers have been used to the idea of interruptive product promotions sent their way aggressively: flashing in the middle of a TV program, printed on multiple pages of a magazine, and pasted on children’s breakfast boxes. We have all been targeted with marketing tactics that have the sole purpose of convincing audiences of a product’s superiority over its competitors.
All of that has begun to change with the advent of digital marketing. Disruptive marketing strategies are now being replaced with what is appropriately called inbound marketing. Instead of reaching out directly to the prospect or customer, as is the principal in traditional or outbound marketing, selling strategies now center on pulling in potential buyers. By understanding their needs and solving their problems for them through effective knowledge sharing practices, customers are drawn towards the brand.
Inbound Marketing Process
The term Inbound marketing employs a wide range of digital marketing tactics to get customers to convert, including content marketing and SEO tools. Through these creative techniques, users may begin to follow brands on social media, share content, participate in live Q&A sessions, or just benefit from tutorials and guides published by brands out of goodwill.
The inbound marketing strategy has three vital steps:
Attract —> Engage —> Delight
While every step of the inbound strategy is tailored to the specific needs of the user, the ultimate goal of this pull marketing is to form a relationship of long-lasting trust with the end consumer as a means of establishing new leads.
1. Create Meaningful Content
Inbound entails the use of helpful and credible content that is crafted to educate the customer. As a result of this open source of relevant information, prospects form a positive image about the brand. This part of inbound is called content marketing and is considered the life and blood of digital marketing.
However, owing to the vast access to digital content that users already have, it is pertinent to place the right information at the right time so that maximum benefit can be derived from it.
Here, instead of sending out a traditional sales representative to explain product specifications, the job of the inbound marketer is key. Without pushing information into a customer’s daily reading schedule, she skillfully places attractive content online to assist potential leads in getting answers. Guest blogs, email popups, video guides, and social media updates are all ways of doing the same thing: bringing joy to the customer for free. The same content can then be repurposed and distributed across all popular media outlets being used by customers to ensure maximum outreach.
2. Personalize Communication
Next, engagement is made flexible so that prospective customers can make purchases at their own convenience. Calls to Actions, contact forms and subscriptions can all be made available on a website or social media forum that is user friendly and allows easy communication with brand representatives. Emails and follow up calls can then be used to engage with consumers on a personal level and to close deals. This will enhance brand image and grow its presence online.
3. Strengthen Relationships
The final stage of the inbound marketing process is what truly separates it from traditional marketing. Since customers have a lot more to choose from than they did over a decade ago, all marketing strategies must focus on retaining their audience by delighting them. An effective way to do this is to ensure that the relationship with customers is so meaningful that they in turn become brand influencers and reach even larger audiences. This is only possible if understanding and satisfying customer needs is at the center of the marketing process.