Marketing your business is no easy task, but it’s even harder if you’re using the wrong strategies.
Maybe you’re not getting the results you used to from cold calling, direct mail, or paying for those short ads on local television.
Your audience’s preferences may be changing, too. If so, your marketing strategies will also have to change if you want to keep building your business.
But what other options are there?
That’s where inbound marketing comes in. Let’s quickly define the difference between inbound and outbound marketing, and then look at some of the best examples of the different types you can use.
What’s the Difference between Inbound and Outbound Marketing?
When you use traditional outbound marketing, you’re going to your prospects with an offer. In contrast, with inbound marketing, your prospects are coming to you and looking at the offer you have on display.
To compare it to dating, outbound marketing is actively pursuing someone, while inbound marketing is trying to get others to pursue you.
Examples of outbound marketing are billboards and TV ads, like this Super Bowl commercial for TurboTax.
As for examples of inbound marketing, let’s look at each one more closely and see companies that are using them well.
1. Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of making your business easy to find on search engines like Google.
Your customers use search engines to shop for products, discover new restaurants, or to ask for help with issues like fleas. If you can get your company website to rank in the first few results for the appropriate keywords, you will receive a steady stream of customers ready to connect with your business.
A company that does SEO very well is Backlinko, run by Brian Dean, which teaches others how to get higher rankings in search engines.
Backlinko ranks on the first page in Google for keywords like “SEO tools.”
On YouTube, Backlinko ranks on the first page for keywords like “How to get higher rankings.”
Doing SEO correctly brings in a lot of new prospects. In the case of Backlinko, its content consistently has high viewership, shares, and comments:
A blog is a log of posts on your business website.
Potential customers who discover your company online don’t know how helpful, knowledgeable, or trustworthy you are. A blog is a way of showing value to your prospects to gain their trust, and hopefully, their business.
With blogging, you can:
- Demonstrate your expertise
- Bring in new customers
- Retain existing customers
- Establish yourself as a go-to authority in your industry
An example of a successful blog is TechCrunch, which reports business news in the tech industry. Over the years, TechCrunch has become a respected and trusted source for news because it consistently posts relevant and accurate stories.
In fact, according to Ahref’s Website Authority Checker, TechCrunch has an authority rating of 92 out of 100.
As you can see, blogging can be a powerful inbound marketing strategy. TechCrunch has over 140 million backlinks and tons of visitors, which gives it a lot of opportunities to monetize its blog.
3. Case Studies
A case study is an in-depth analysis of a specific customer, group, or event.
Prospective customers like to know how effective your services are before they give away their money. You can demonstrate how well your services work by using case studies.
With a case study, you find a customer success story that has three simple parts:
- A pain point your audience can relate to
- How your customer used your business’s products and services
- The customer’s positive results
A company that uses case studies well is MailChimp, which offers email marketing services. The business has an entire page dedicated to success stories.
Case studies are particularly powerful because they don’t tell your audience how your business might help them. Case studies show how your business has already helped customers like them.
By using case studies, you allow your customers to market your business for you.
4. White papers
A white paper is an authoritative document that guides or informs its readers on a technical subject.
Some industries have deeply complex problems with even more complicated solutions. This is where a white paper can really impress a prospect.
If you think of a blog post as a weekly homework assignment, a white paper is a college dissertation. It is data-driven, thoroughly researched, and professionally designed.
An excellent example of a white paper is HubSpot’s “How to Avoid Marketing Technology Paralysis.”
Notice that HubSpot requires your email to access the white paper. This does a few powerful things for HubSpot:
- It builds an email list of potential customers. HubSpot now has direct access to people interested in its services.
- It reveals the prospect’s pain points. Since the prospect downloaded this particular white paper, chances are the prospect struggles with marketing technology paralysis.
- It builds trust. HubSpot put a lot of work into this white paper, revealing a deep desire to add value for its customers. In turn, those who access the white paper reveal they trust HubSpot’s opinions enough to give away their email.
White papers are particularly effective in B2B marketing when the customer buying journey is much longer. Businesses usually need to do a lot of research before purchasing your products or services. A white paper can answer that need.
A podcast is a series of audio files that your audience can access at any time.
Sometimes your audience doesn’t have the time or mental energy to read content on their devices. However, they may be able to listen to a podcast during their commute or while doing chores at home.
Your audience may even prefer podcasts depending on the industry. For example, if you sell instruments or audio equipment, a podcast may be a more appropriate medium to showcase your products.
An example of a solid podcast is Ryan Robinson’s The Side Hustle Project, which interviews entrepreneurs who run successful side hustles.
Robinson teaches people how to start blogs and side businesses. With his podcast, Robinson markets himself in powerful ways, by:
- Giving his listeners a wealth of knowledge from various experts
- Receiving backlinks and improve his search rankings
- Networking with key people in his industry
- Growing his audience
In one month, 24,527 people downloaded an episode from Robinson’s podcast.
Podcasting is particularly favorable for you if you are a stronger speaker than you are a writer.
An infographic is an image of charts and text that gives viewers an overview of a complicated topic.
Here’s an example from SmartCitiesDive.
Sometimes information is too complex or boring for your audience to process. Infographics communicate the same data but in a more fun and digestible medium.
Infographics make learning fun, which easily entices prospects who are eager to find out more about your industry. Also, infographics are highly shareable, which means more marketing for your business.
You can study and create amazing infographics at Canva.
7. Video Series
A video series is a collection of videos that teach and inform your audience.
Consuming video content is a growing trend. According to Alexa, YouTube is the second most popular site in the world. In a press report, YouTube said it reaches more viewers on mobile devices alone than any TV network when it comes to 18- to 38-year-olds.
In short, more and more people are watching videos, and creating video content is a great way to reach your audience.
An example of a video series is Neil Patel’s series on how to get more website traffic.
These videos are easy to consume, answer audience pain points, and build a massive following. After creating dozens of these videos and marketing them, Neil has established himself as an authority on digital marketing.
Look at the results he gets:
- 550K+ subscribers
- 1,500 likes for this video alone
- Comments that praise his work
A downside to creating video content is that it can get expensive and require additional resources. Outsourcing may be necessary. However, it’s a personable and effective way to market your business.
A webinar is a seminar you give online.
Webinars tend to be more lecture-style, but sometimes they can be interactive Q&A sessions. The advantage of a webinar is that it brings your business to life and gives your audience facetime with your brand.
An example of a webinar is Apple’s live talk on remote work and distance learning.
Webinars attract serious learners who can turn into serious customers. Webinars also establish your authority and allow you to show more personality than you could in a text format.
9. Social Media
Social media is where your customers hang out, browse, converse, and share their thoughts.
You can create accounts on various platforms and post content that builds a following. It’s an easy way for customers to discover your company and develop a relationship with your brand.
A prime example to study is Taco Bell’s Twitter account.
Taco Bell is very active on its account, often retweeting customer posts and tweeting comedic things. Because of the brand’s playful humor and interaction, it has almost two million followers.
One significant advantage to marketing on social media is that you can do it for free.
Create the Right Inbound Strategy for You
Inbound marketing allows customers to discover and connect with your business. You attract an audience by adding value to their lives with content. This invites prospects to learn about your company and build trust with your brand, which easily translates into more customers.
Every company and audience is different. You’ll have to study these different inbound marketing examples and consider which forms are best for your industry, target group, skill set, and budget.
With an effective inbound marketing strategy, you can bring your customers to you.
This article was written by Compose.ly writer Salvatore Lamborn.