Inbound Marketing —And How It Goes Where Outbound Can’t
There’s one less frequently discussed benefit of inbound: it can dredge up leads in places that, for many organizations, outbound simply couldn’t reach
I’ve talked (many times over!) about the exciting potential of inbound marketing. It’s an attraction-based methodology that can revolutionize businesses who are entirely dependent upon outbound marketing in order to generate leads.
And although it’s no longer the spring chicken of the marketing world, trying to win business by disrupting customers is both starting to feel very passé and also becoming increasingly hard to pull off (think: ad blockers and the mouse of privacy protection software getting ahead of the cat of data-hungry marketers).
There are many advantages to inbound that have been widely discussed before (including by me!)— so I won’t repeat them here. My favorite of them: inbound marketing works its magic while you sleep.
As you lie in bed catching some shuteye, prospects’ eyes may be skimming over your blog posts, listening to your podcasts, or watching your YouTube videos. The next morning you might open your inbox to find a form completion from a very enthusiastic and somewhat pre-qualified lead. Cool, right?
Especially when you’re a marketing team of one — think entrepreneurs, freelancers, and consultants — this is already a game changer. You can run your business while — to an extent at least — some lead generation goes on passively in the background. Think: get some time at the beach safe in the knowledge that there’s some magic happening behind the scenes.
Why Inbound Marketing Is Amazing For Freelancers (And Freelance Writers)
Some advantages inbound marketing has to offer for micro business units
But there’s another benefit that I discovered recently and which I’d like to share here.
Inbound Can Dredge Up Leads From Almost Unreachable Places
At my minute level of scale — I’m a solo marketing consultant so literally as small as it gets— there are two ways I might tap in order to generate leads through outbound marketing.
The classic way involves a lot of cups of coffee (slash caffeine pills), data entry, and time spent trying to figure out which leads fit broadly into my picture of an ideal target customer.
I might leverage a mixture of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Hunter.io, and a handful of other tools in order to introduce my service offering to those who might be in a position to buy it.
This works but — from what I’ve observed — even its successes aren’t always that pretty. It’s also boring un-creative grunt work. I haven’t done cold outreach at volume in a couple of years. I don’t miss it.
Does Cold Emailing Work To Find Freelance Clients?
It can. It does. But even the successes aren’t always pretty.
Method two would be working human connections. I’m not talking about leveraging referrals here but rather doing the opposite: asking a friend who works at X Inc to introduce you to their friend who you’d love to do some work for.
The problem with the second methodology is that it’s really limited to the reach of your secondary network. And particularly when you’re just starting out, you mightn’t have the Rolodex to get you the type of clients you’re looking to land.
Anybody Can Read Content. Hence, Anybody Can Discover You
Last year, I picked up an inbound lead through my writing website.
The lead turned out to be one of the most seamless inbound leads that I dealt with last year. After a two email rate negotiation, they signed on the dotted line and were good to go.
But that wasn’t what got me excited about this lead or why I’m relaying the story here.
What got me excited was the fact that this was a lead that I would have had extreme difficulty reaching through any outbound channel. In fact, I think it probably would have been impossible.
For one, the client was a multinational PR agency with more than 10 international offices. Trying to get past the series of gatekeepers by hitting any generic email form here would have been likely impossible.
Send an email or LinkedIn introduction to the VP of Content Marketing? Thin likelihood to get a response. Try one step below? Fine. But which Communications Manager to reach out to? Reach out to one of the firm’s offices? The email would probably be deleted in a second, unopened, by the first-line gatekeeper. And which office to email anyway? London? Hong Kong? New York? You see the problem.
Instead what happened was this:
- I added a page to my website outlining my service offering in a technical niche that isn’t overly crowded with competitors.
- I made sure to optimize it for keywords that would reflect the intent of those searching for such a contract writer.
- The client landed a technology firm as a client and needed a writer who could write comfortably about the topic that I have experience about writing in.
- My site came up. One contact form and two emails later I had an account.
One of the wonderful things about inbound marketing is that it can — theoretically — get your message seen to a worldwide audience.
Of course, there’s also the chance that nobody wills see your content. But done right, you never know what kind of eyeballs might come across your byline.
For those on the smallest end of the headcount spectrum like me, inbound marketing can also be a way of breaking into a class of business — say, global PR companies — that we would have thin to no chance of landing as clients through outbound means.
This is an extremely powerful benefit of inbound marketing for any small business.