Making the Switch from Outbound to Inbound
In contrast to outbound, inbound marketing is a way to attract leads to your business via content marketing, social media marketing, and search engine optimization.
The inbound methodology was created in 2005, and has since become a proven and beloved marketing tactic for many businesses. In fact, by 2016 over 80% of all businesses were practicing some aspect of inbound.
How is it that a method only twelve years old is outperforming traditional marketing that has been around for…forever? Simply put, consumer behaviors have changed; therefore, the way we market to them needs to change, too.
More specifically, outbound methods usually consist of cold calling, TV ads, print ads, etc. Although those channels still work to an extent, they’re becoming more and more outdated as technology (and consumer behavior) evolves. For example, consumers don’t want to be cold-called by a salesperson, they want to be given relevant, enjoyable content via social media or blogs.
Inbound resonates with businesses so well because it attracts leads and increases engagement. And it resonates with consumers because they want to establish a relationship (not just be advertised to) with the brands they love.
So, what exactly does a business have to do differently to switch from outbound to inbound? Let’s find out.
Outbound to Inbound
Although we briefly mentioned this already, it’s important to understand the fundamental differences between outbound and inbound marketing when planning your transition.
When utilizing outbound marketing, communication is only one-way, and businesses rely on cold calls and ads for leads. Whereas inbound marketing establishes a two-way relationship between businesses and consumers, and customers come to you. Or, as Newbird owner Jamie Bell described in a previous post, inbound “is about winning fans, building trust, and being smart to gain leads. It’s the opposite of what most outbound marketing efforts produce…” But we can break it down even more.
Tactics that outbound marketers use include:
• Cold calls
• Print advertising
• Mass direct mailings
• Broadcast media
• Trade Shows
In contrast, inbound marketing tools consist of:
• Contact Marketing
• Email nurturing
• Content marketing
• Social Media Marketing
Below are examples of just a few ways you can transition your outbound marketing to inbound.
PPC to SEO
Both PPC (pay-per-click) and SEO (search engine optimization) are parts of search engine marketing (SEM). However, they are — like outbound and inbound marketing — essentially polar opposites.
PPC ads are paid ads that drive traffic by enabling you to display ads in the Sponsored results section on search engine result pages. Alternatively, SEO is a free way to build traffic by organically showing up in search engine results.
These tactics work well together and independently. As standalone tactics, SEO is harder work, and it will take longer than paying to show in the results. That being said, you can’t have a successful digital presence without optimizing for SEO — and you can’t have a prosperous inbound strategy without it.
Direct Mail to Email
When was the last time you received physical “junk mail,” and actually took the time to read it? According to Voltier Digital, at least 44% of direct mail is never opened. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars creating, printing, and mailing an advertisement, you can create the same design into an email or digital newsletter. Emails are more apt to be personalized, and has the ability to A/B test different designs and messages to see what works best — which is a huge advantage to your overall marketing strategy.
Arguably, there are some instances where direct mail can be beneficial. For example, after an event you could send out physical, personalized thank you cards to all your participants and attendees. However, you should do that along with sending out emails, not in place of.
Cold Calls to Blogs
This is a crucial step to making the switch from an outbound to an inbound methodology. Cold calling is a method used to seek out customers to make a sale, not to give value or help educate — and that’s why it’s becoming increasingly irrelevant.
Consumer behavior is changing. Pushing your products or services on consumers no longer works. In fact, 200 million Americans have registered their phone numbers on “Do Not Call” lists. The internet has made it possible for people to be more in control of the information they receive and how they receive it. Therefore, marketers need to earn people’s trust by using content to provide value, educate, or entertain their customers.
What can you do to earn trust and provide value instead of cold calling? Blog, blog, blog. While there are various forms of content marketing, a blog is essential. They’re a source of credible, educational information that customers seek out, and isn’t forced onto them.
Print Ads to CTAs
While there are still magazines and newspapers circulating around the globe, a substantial amount of publications are moving from primarily print media to purely digital. According to Statista, the number of daily newspapers in the U.S. decreased from 1,731 in 1981 to 1,331 in 2014.
Print advertisements may not be as intrusive as cold calling tactics, but they also don’t have as huge of an impact in a world trending progressively towards internet marketing. Thankfully, there is a digital alternative: calls-to-action, or CTAs.
Rather than spending money on ads in newspapers, magazines, posters, etc., you can use calls-to-action throughout your content to entice people to visit your website, download gated content, or contact you. Just like print ads encourage your customer to take the next step towards doing business, a CTA brings them to a landing page for whatever is being offered. It’s quick and seamless for the customer, and faster and cheaper for your business.
Change is always difficult, but it’s also inevitable. Many businesses have realized the benefits of inbound marketing, and are increasingly adjusting their budgets to utilize more inbound tactics. You don’t have to overwhelm yourself and make the switch all at once, either. Take it one step at a time, and soon you’ll see more and more leads coming to you. Then one day you’ll realize you have enough leads coming to you, that you no longer need to waste money on outdated, outbound tactics.