Would it shock you to know that we believe in the power of inbound marketing? Probably not. After all, you’re reading this blog, a core inbound marketing technique whether you found it via a subscription email or a search engine. Heck, we even praise the power of inbound marketing on our homepage!
So instead of writing yet another post on the importance or success of inbound marketing, we’re taking it a different direction.
Chances are that when you first encounter this “pull” marketing philosophy, you’re already engaging in more traditional “push” advertising methods like banner and search ads. Does making the switch to inbound marketing mean that you have to cut the cord with all of your current efforts? Absolutely not. Here are 4 ways to begin inbound marketing efforts with your current outbound methods.
1) Encourage Web Actions
Most of your marketing efforts, regardless of how small they might be, probably already encourage your audience to visit your website for more information. So it shouldn’t be a big adjustment to get more specific: instead of simply pointing to your website for more information on your posters, direct mail efforts, or banner ads, encourage your audience to take a specific action once they get there.
For example, you may be holding a sale in a local store. Traditionally, your ads probably praise the sale, and point to your website for information on which products are on sale. So what if you make it a sale that’s only valid (or visible) for your email subscribers? Entice your audience with a few of your products, then point them to gated content for more information. They’ll be happy to give you their contact information, at which point they can enter your database and your lead nurturing efforts can begin.
2) Promote Your Content
Similar to the first strategy, you can also use your existing outbound ads to promote your new, inbound-focused content.
As we’ve discussed in this space, successful inbound marketing relies on generating relevant and interesting content – in the form of blog posts, webinars, ebooks, white papers, and more – to “pull” your audience to your website. Gating your content behind a sign-up form means you can gather leads, which you can nurture toward becoming customers.
Now, all you have to do is adjust your outbound messaging to promote your inbound companies, and your integration of “push” and “pull” methods is one step further.
3) Combine SEO and SEM
Encouraging web actions instead of web visits and promoting your content are admittedly simple, but surprisingly effective steps to combine outbound and inbound marketing. But if you want to want to go deeper, consider combining your SEO and SEM efforts.
Search engine optimization and search engine marketing sometimes seem at odds. As you probably know, the first stands for ‘organic,’ unpaid efforts to improve the ranking of your website to show up higher in the search results for specific keywords on Google, Bing, etc. Meanwhile, the latter means bidding on the same keywords to place search ads on the ‘results’ page. SEO and SEM are a perfect example of inbound vs. outbound: one pulls your audience in, while the other pushes your message to your audience.
So what if we told you that the two can actually work together surprisingly well? As it turns out, ranking highly both organically and in the ‘paid’ section improves your click-through rate on both ads, suggesting that the duality of SEO and SEM actually work best in tandem. And if you think about it, that makes perfect sense; not only does the chance of click-throughs increase when users see your link twice, but knowledgable users will also begin to regard your promoted link as more credible and relevant because they know you didn’t just bit on a random keyword.
Combining your SEO and SEM efforts, in other words, is another perfect way to integrate your inbound and outbound marketing efforts.
4) Use Custom Audiences
While social media is another core part of inbound marketing, paid ads on networks like Facebook and Twitter produce an interesting conundrum: though they appear on the same platform as organic post, they could easily count as outbound, “push” advertisements to an audience that has not heard about or shown interest in your brand. Fortunately, there’s a way around that: custom audiences.
Custom audiences allow marketers on social media to target their audience based on more than just geographic, demographic or psychographic parameters. Instead, marketers upload a specific list of users, which the network matches with user profile on its site. Now, you can show your ads only to users that are already part of your list. Facebook and Twitter were the first to offer custom audiences as a targeting method, while Google (along with Gmail and YouTube) quickly followed suit.
The benefits for marketers are undeniable: now, you can use a traditionally outbound method to specifically target your current leads. Depending on the size of your funnel, you can even target leads at varying stages in the nurturing process, adjusting the method to ensure your ads contribute to turning leads into customers. Compared to the way you used to use social media advertisements, the only thing you have to change is your targeting method to turn your efforts from outbound into inbound.
The chance of success and ROI potential of inbound marketing is undeniable. Still, making the switch from your current efforts can be daunting, especially if you believe that step to necessitate a full-on switch from one philosophy to its opposite. Fortunately, that doesn’t have to be the case! Integrating your inbound and outbound efforts can go a long way toward ensuring success while changing your marketing philosophy.
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