Marketing can be a complex challenge in markets with heavy competition, like consumer goods. How do you make what you sell stand out, build an email list, and convince consumers to buy from your business? Most B2C companies that sell physical products directly to the consumer are still stuck in traditional outbound marketing patterns.
In fact, it’s often assumed that inbound marketing tactics are only effective for B2B sales, software promotion, professional services, and online-only offers. However, inbound marketing can - and should - be used for all types of businesses, including those manufacturing and selling consumer goods.
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
The difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing is that while traditional outbound marketing is focused on finding customers for your business, inbound marketing is focused on making it easy for customers to find you. Instead of using a hammer to continually drive home your advertising messages, inbound marketing uses a magnet-like approach to gently pull customers in your direction.
Outbound marketing activities include:
- Email blasts promoting your products to a purchased list of email addresses
- Social media posts promoting your products
- Television, radio, and print advertising
- Events and trade shows that require elevator pitches
- Cold calling
- One-to-one selling
Inbound marketing activities include:
- Building an email list by giving away a digital offer of value
- Conducting webinars
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Viral videos on YouTube and other social platforms
- Personalized email
Allocating a budget for inbound marketing can increase ROI and develop a solid customer base that doesn’t require heavy investment via traditional advertising to maintain.
Inbound Marketing Cornerstones
Key examples of inbound activities your company should be implementing include:
Lead Generation - building quality email lists for continual, long-term marketing by providing:
- Downloadable offers like gift or buying guides, or eBooks
- Interactive content like quizzes and calculators
- Access to helpful online content behind a subscribe button
- Discounts and special offers delivered on a frequent basis to email list members
- Newsletters full of informative content and tips sent monthly or bi-monthly
Live Chat - starting a real-time conversation can help your website visitors overcome any objections early on. Plus, you can ask for their email address in case you need to get back to them later!
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - maintaining and continually adding to a website that is:
- Textually tailored for key phrases that consumers search for using the pillar content approach
- Fast to load and easy to navigate both on desktop and mobile devices
- Intuitive and informative, providing consumers with easy to absorb information
- Properly configured in regard to purchasing safety, consumer data privacy and security
Social Media Marketing (SMM) - using social media platforms for:
- Organic outreach
- Community building
- Sharing third-party and user generated content to establish trust
- Targeted advertising based on segmented demographics
- Referrals with value comparable to traditional word of mouth
Blogging - short and long form article marketing based from an owned domain which:
- Educates consumers
- Shares helpful tips
- Answers questions
- Showcases how customers are using products
- Provides solutions
Video Content - videos with a clear message and branding designed to:
- Appeal to target demographics
- Be widely shared on social and messaging platforms
- Increase brand visibility and recognition
Contests - using a landing page, Facebook Lead Ad, or contest tool like Shortstack, capture email addresses in exchange for a giveaway of your products or services
Webinars - long-form content presented in slide format with the goal of:
- Delivering information about a consumer pain point
- Presenting a solution (your product or service)
- Motivating the webinar participant to take action
Paid Ads - on Google or social media. Paid ads help you reach people already looking for your product, and expedite the buying cycle.
All of the above actions are driven by the ideology that consumers who are educated about their purchasing choices are better leads than those who are simply presented with a sales pitch. Inbound marketing activities are less costly over the long term than traditional advertising, and should be embraced by consumer goods producers to better manage marketing costs and build a solid base of consumers with a high Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
In Part 2, we’ll explore the benefits of inbound, showcase some brands which are successfully leveraging inbound to grow their business, and lay out four ways you can begin using inbound to develop high quality leads and increase sales for your business.