What is Inbound Marketing?

For those of you who are new to digital marketing or are more familiar with traditional marketing tactics, the term “inbound marketing” may seem straight forward enough. You post a blog or video on your website, people visit to your site, you get leads. It’s the opposite of “outbound marketing” where you send out mailers, bulk email your customer list, etc. Sounds simple, right? While the concept is simple, how you successfully execute those activities can vary greatly based on your experience and the expertise of your team.

Lets take a look at the major differences between “outbound” and “inbound” marketing.

Outbound (or Push) Marketing is Higher Risk

Unfortunately, there are still many businesses using those “push marketing” tactics for much of their marketing budget. Blasting out emails and press releases every few weeks is a bad idea. Once you lose a customer through overly aggressive marketing tactics, they’re gone (likely forever). Generally, push marketing produces more lost customers and program opt-outs than inbound tactics. If you annoy someone enough with self promotions, they will tune your message out completely.


Types of Outbound Marketing Tatics

Push/outbound marketing can take many different forms. Examples of outbound marketing:

  • Email blasts
  • Traditional press releases
  • Cold calls
  • Direct mail
  • Broadcast faxing
  • Display advertising
  • Media inserts
  • Voicemail marketing
  • TV advertising

Inbound Marketing is Lower Risk

What inbound marketing has advantage wise over push marketing is sustainability. Your content will live on for as long as you keep your website running. Its much easier for a customer to passively ignore irrelevant inbound content and tune in when its relevant to them. Passive consumption of content is what social media is all about. You don’t need to be on Twitter or Facebook almost every minute of the day to gain value. By tuning in when you have time, you can passively get the information you need when you need it.

“Passive consumption of content is what social media is all about.”

A worst case scenario is that you produce very poor content that no-one reads or shares. Generally, companies that overly self-promote are the ones who get ignored in social. With the right strategy in place, you can produce great content that many people enjoy and are willing to share with their friends. If people are inspired by your content, you gain loyal followers. Its a win-win!

10 Inbound Marketing Tactics

Reaching customers through inbound marketing can take many forms. Below are ten ways you can attract customers without the use of push tactics.

  1. Run a social sharing contest with prizes
  2. Run a product giveaway
  3. Create an insightful graphic
  4. Share inspirational quotes
  5. Sponsor an online event
  6. Host a free webinar
  7. Distribute slide shares
  8. Write an in-depth article of 1000+ words
  9. Create simple monthly video tips
  10. Interview an industry expert

These are just a few ideas that can spark your creativity. Again, sometimes its not what you do but how you do it. If your contest fails, thats ok, you’ve learned something and can apply those learnings to your next contest. Best of luck!

More on Inbound Marketing

Neil Patel of KISSmetrics put together a great overview of inbound marketing. Check out his slides from a recent webinar:

photo credit: quinn.anya cc