In the battle of inbound vs outbound marketing, inbound is winning, if you believe the headlines. Let’s dig deeper though and uncover some surprising truths about inbound marketing success. But first of all, we’ll define what we mean by inbound marketing:
Inbound marketing is all about pull tactics – rather than pushing out campaign after campaign and trying to capture your target audience’s attention by zooming into their inboxes or popping up in an advert on a website, inbound marketing is all about pulling your audience in.
Bitter truth #1: It’s not Google who’s sending all that traffic to your website. It’s your outbound marketing campaigns. Yes, your website is your best-performing marketing channel – your web analytics are showing that thousands of people visit every month, downloading hundreds of assets and sharing their details and preferences with your company. But where is all this traffic coming from? If you have a typical B2B marketing website, you’re probably seeing a quarter of traffic coming from search engines, slightly less from referrals from partner websites and directories, a bit more from social media, and then a big whopping percentage (around 50% or so) of so-called direct entries. You simply don’t know where these people came from, and your web guru will tell you that these direct entries may be from people who bookmarked your website. But deep down you already know where this traffic came from: It’s from outbound marketing campaigns where for some reason you chose not to or were unable to properly track your responses – it’s the advert with the QR code that didn’t work. It’s the front page article you placed in your industry’s leading trade magazine. It’s people looking up your company while listening to your CEO speak at the annual tradeshow. Essentially, a large part of your website traffic is powered by outbound, traditional marketing tactics.
Bitter truth #2: Just because you built it, doesn’t mean people will come from all over the web to admire it. Successful inbound marketing needs outbound promotion. Yes, the principle of inbound marketing is that buyers will come to you, but you need to make sure you connect with them and lead them to your website. A common mistake for companies is to focus their content marketing on their own blog. After all, they reason, they built the blog, so now customers and prospects should come and read articles on it. But inbound marketing is still anchored in the principle of ‘going to market’. So don’t be Princess Rapunzel in the Tower hoping that Prince Charming will come and follow the trail of your golden locks into your lair. Instead, go where the punters are – go to market. So write that blog, put it on your website, but also tweet about it, put it on LinkedIn, include it in your newsletter, post it on Finextra, Tabb Forum and other places relevant to your specific industry. When you guest-blog, remember to build quality backlinks to your own site. On one hand, this will make it easier for your reader to find your website and connect with you, and on the other hand it will enable your site to benefit from all the good Google juice that high quality inbound links produce.
Bitter truth #3: There is no such thing as website or inbound marketing content. Yes, you can pay an SEO writer to insert keywords into your webpage’s headlines and optimize the content so your site ranks higher on Google. But the content that is most likely to engage your visitors and hold their attention on the site is the same high quality content you use in your outbound campaigns: So make sure you do not waste time and money creating content just for SEO purposes when you already have a treasure trove of whitepapers, videos and case studies at your disposal. This is the type of high quality inbound marketing content that will help speed along your inbound marketing buyer’s journey.
The bitter truth about good inbound marketing is that you need to combine it with great outbound marketing – it’s the secret recipe for all-round marketing success, and will also help ensure that your buyers have a consistent experience across marketing channels.