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Inbound marketing tactics, like social media posts and news coverage, are ways in which businesses can attract customers' attention by earning it rather than paying for it. — Getty Images/Bobex-73

In the age of social media and digital content, many businesses have shifted their focus from outbound marketing to inbound marketing to draw ideal customers to their business. While both marketing strategies have the same goal, their approaches (and results) are vastly different. An inbound marketing strategy can be the stronghold of a business, providing steady, creative solutions to its ideal customers in the digital sphere.

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing attracts ideal consumers to a product or service by merging and creating content — like blogs, videos and social media posts — tailored to their needs. This is achieved through interaction, giving the customer the incentive to learn more about a product or service that interests them. It’s then on the customer to respond accordingly, deciding whether they want to make a purchase or pursue other options.

[Read: How to Measure Content Marketing Success]

Inbound vs. outbound marketing

The main difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing is found in the name. Inbound marketing focuses on drawing potential consumers in, while outbound marketing projects a business’s offering out to the consumer. In other words, inbound marketing attempts to earn a consumer’s attention and outbound marketing buys it.

This concept can be narrowed down to the types of media each strategy pursues. Examples of inbound marketing include:

  • Owned media: These are the channels owned by the business, such as social media handles, email listings, subscriptions to products and services, as well as product landing pages. There is a freedom to what, when and how businesses publish on these digital platforms.
  • Earned media: This is coverage the business has earned due to hard work or recognition. Earned media can include mentions on social media or a more traditional avenue such as newspaper or magazine coverage. Businesses have less control over earned media than they do owned media.

Conversely, outbound marketing includes:

  • Paid media: Paid media includes paid Facebook advertisements and soliciting emails, or more traditional forms of media such as TV commercials and newspaper ads. While paid media does have its place in marketing, it’s important to keep the consumer in mind while preparing any ad. For example, pop-up ads that interrupt a preferred customer’s experience won’t have them running to that business’ product or service.

Inbound marketing focuses on drawing potential consumers in, while outbound marketing projects a business’s offering out to the consumer.

Benefits of inbound marketing

Here are four key benefits of inbound marketing:

Simplified sales and marketing

Instead of having two different teams for sales and marketing, joining them together garners increased productivity and consumer satisfaction. A salesperson knows the key information customers are looking for when buying a product. The marketing team can use this inside information to answer questions, solve problems and provide creative solutions for the customer during the buying process.

Increased brand awareness

With the majority of content existing online, consumers are much more likely to find a business while browsing the web for a solution to their problems. This generates more brand awareness and encourages recommendations to others.

Increased trust

When a business takes into account the customer’s time, money and freedom to browse at leisure, a trust between the two is established. In the long run, this is a more effective way to market as it allows the preferred customer to buy on their own terms, which increases credibility.

Generated traffic and leads

Creating content, landing pages and calls to action for the customer’s benefit creates relationships and, in turn, drives traffic to a business’s owned media. The more content a business provides, the greater their chances are of scoring leads and generating sales.

[Read: The 4 Most Common Lead Generation Funnels for B2B Businesses]

Inbound marketing is an incredibly important strategy to use in your business as the world becomes more and more digitized. Utilizing these marketing techniques will drive traffic to your business, cultivate brand awareness and increase trust. While inbound marketing is growing, recognizing the strategies that work best for your business is a key factor to attracting consumers and generating sales.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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