Today’s marketing landscape has evolved into a complex entity of new tactics that have emerged as a result of the blending of various tactics and styles. The digital age has transformed the traditional requirement of marketing - that of being physically present to actively promote your business - into a whole new concept that gives marketers a far-reaching influence on customers, that of online marketing.
Two terms that get bandied about while talking about online marketing are digital marketing and inbound marketing So, this brings us to a question that we often encounter: just what is inbound marketing and how does it differ from digital marketing? To start with, let’s look at these two terms separately.
Broadly speaking, digital marketing is defined as a set of tactics that can be used either separately or together to achieve different goals and objectives such as increasing online visibility, increasing online traffic to a website, or boosting brand awareness. Digital marketing tactics are primarily centered on connecting and interacting with customers through various platforms to increase a business’s reach with users. Some tactics associated with digital marketing include:
Branding is aimed at developing a unique identity for your business - a “character” that customers can relate to when they come into contact with your business. This includes techniques that convey your business’s mission and value effectively.
- Designing a unique logo for your brand
- Designing a user-friendly, informative website that reflects your aims and services
- Landing pages and email templates
2. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing is a tool to develop personal and direct interactions with customers through social channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram and others. With the right social channels, businesses can reach a wider audience that’s targeted towards their requirements. Social media marketing can also serve to expedite lead conversion when done right, i.e. if marketers are quick to identify such opportunities within their social media interactions.
Search engine optimization is a core tactic associated with digital marketing, and is used to ensure that your digital presence - aka your website - is felt. In other words, search engine optimization works at making certain that people can find and click on your website when they search for keywords pertaining to your business and services. This involves checking and implementing best SEO practices like appropriate title tags, SEO friendly URLs, image alt tags and SEO rich content. Especially in today’s largely mobile space, SEO works at making your website visible to users regardless of what device they use: desktop devices or mobile devices.
Pay Per Click (PPC) is a tactic that can especially help small businesses and startups gain visibility and increased website traffic through targeted advertising based on specific factors like geographical location, language or even device used. The targeted approach of Pay Per Click can give businesses a higher probability of lead conversions from their website traffic. PPC also allows businesses to ascertain the success of their campaigns through measurable data like number of clicks, cost per click and conversion rates.
Blogging aims at producing optimized “short-form” content to increase your website’s online visibility, increase brand awareness, establish your authority as a trusted brand and disseminator of information, and boost customer-business interaction. Over the course of the campaign, a blog can also serve as a lead generating source.
6. Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the earliest tactics associated with online/digital marketing, and even today, it still has the potential to drive considerable traffic to a website compared to other forms of digital marketing. With segmented targeting in place, email marketing can be used to build credibility and customer trust, which in turn can lead to higher lead conversion rates and customer retention.
Reading through the goals of each of the above tactics, a theme should emerge. Digital marketing tactics are primarily designed to draw an audience in and to establish contact with potential customers. But, the journey doesn’t end there though, does it?
Inbound is a holistic, all-or-nothing marketing strategy that guides qualified leads through the sales funnel; it’s a means of organically attracting visitors, converting them into qualified leads, successfully closing deals and turning them into customers, and finally, nurturing your base of loyal customers. Simply put, it is an all-encompassing, customer-centric methodology that consists of a large number of interrelated tactics aimed at generating quality, interest-driven conversions and sales.
1. Generating Value-Based Content
Now, statistics have indicated that most customers tend to research online before making a purchase. So, keeping in mind the focus of inbound marketing, which is generating interest-driven and qualified traffic to your website, how can you ensure that you end up in their line of sight? By producing content that answers their needs and basic requirements, and provides relevant information that eventually ties back to your product and service. This amounts to creating “value” for your customer, which is creating specific and targeted content - both textual and visual - that resonates with them such as blog posts, infographics, video bytes, e-newsletters, e-books and whitepapers. Value-based content gets people talking, keeps them engaged and leaves them wanting more.
2. Factoring In Buyer Personas and The Buyer’s Journey
Inbound ultimately comes down to thebuyer persona. What is a buyer persona? It’s a hypothetical buyer who is looking for a solution to a problem or concern, and is likely to find it in your product or service. So, creating a buyer persona is, in essence, getting to know your customer on a personal level: how they think, how they seek answers and how they tend towards a solution to their problem.
With that said, it would make sense that aligning your marketing strategy with their journey from awareness to decision to purchase would be advantageous. This means using a different set of non-intrusive marketing tactics at each stage to guide them organically down the funnel towards a sure sale.
3. Lead Scoring
Lead scoring refers to evaluating and ranking incoming leads according to the value they offer to a business or organization. The ranking can be based on:
- Personal factors such as the user’s job position,geographical location, social media reach, or company size
- The lead’s behavioral indicators on your website such as level of engagement, web pages they viewed or number of forms completed on your site
- The type of interest expressed by the lead such as a request for a demo, type of product page viewed, or content downloaded
By assigning scores based on the above factors, businesses can determine where in the funnel the buyer is currently at. Lead scoring has two main purposes:
- Identifying which leads need to be nurtured before they’re ready to buy
- Ensuring your sales team only handles leads that are sales-ready
4. Lead Nurturing
Lead nurturing is the process of developing and sustaining a relationship with buyers through every stage of the buyer’s journey right up to the stage where they’re ready to buy. The importance of an effective lead nurturing strategy stems from the fact that only less than 10% of your generated leads are sales-ready; the remaining leads need to be nurtured before your sales team is ready to take them on. According to the Forrester Report in 2014, businesses that perfected their lead nurturing tactics saw a 50% spike in their sales.
- Some effective lead nurturing tactics include:
- Targeted email marketing campaigns
- Strategic landing pages that are optimized intelligently around the right keywords and user intent
- Frequently updated blog content that is fresh and relevant
5. Math Marketing
Math Marketing is a specific approach to Inbound. It involves analyzing and tracking a company’s marketing data to help streamline their digital marketing strategy. Creating models with predictive forecasting based on patterned and predicted behavioral analysis can help organize big data in a more visual and meaningful way. Using these visuals, marketers can decide on the next steps in their campaign or gauge which areas in their campaign require further improvement. Math Marketing places added focus on lead conversions, and hence it is predicated on effective lead scoring efforts and lead generation. The more efficient lead scoring tactics are, the more accurate will the data be in order to identify which prospects are most likely to convert.
6. Marketing and Sales Alignment
For a company’s growth to be scalable, there needs to be a cohesive alignment between its sales and marketing strategies. While the marketing and sales teams’ focus may seem to be at opposite ends of the funnel, there needs to be an agreement on the type of leads that are more likely to get them the best returns.
This means reorienting both the sales and marketing teams on the buyer’s journey and not the sales funnel. Doing so ensures that the business is able to meet the customer with the right tactics - nurturing or sales - at the right time. Likewise, rather than focusing only on the number of leads generated, marketers need to focus on the number of qualified sales that came out of the lead pool.
Digital Marketing in Inbound Marketing
Digital marketing can be said to be a part of the inbound strategy since it contributes hugely towards various stages of the marketing campaign. For instance, branding and high quality user content are both standalone digital tactics that work towards establishing an identity and authority with users. Both these elements, therefore, form a part of a larger inbound strategy. However, the scope of inbound not only encompasses digital marketing, but extends way beyond it. It is composed of many unique components that serve a company’s overall goals of increased revenue and exponential growth.
Conclusion: What Do I Need?
Ask yourself, what are your goals? If your primary goal is to boost your brand’s visibility and generate awareness for your business, a combination of well-chosen digital tactics will serve you just fine. If, however, your goals are long-term and involve generating high-quality leads, increasing sales revenues and growing your business, then, an inbound strategy is what you need.