Digital Insights

Does Inbound Marketing Work for Every Business Niche?


Published: November 11, 2014

While inbound marketing should work for any business that uses traditional outbound marketing techniques, the truth of the matter is that it may not be a good fit for certain types of businesses.

Inbound marketing is not a quick-fix, set it and forget it proposition. It requires a substantial investment of time and money that may simply be beyond the reach of some business niches. Inbound marketing campaigns will primarily benefit companies that

  • Sell a complex product or service. This usually means that the product niche generates a lot of online queries. The more question and concerns that prospective customers are researching the better.
  • Have a lifetime customer value of at least $500. Multiply the average sale amount by the number of purchases made during the expected lifetime of a typical customer to arrive at lifetime customer value.

Remember that in order to achieve a positive return on investment with inbound or any other form of marketing, the cost of customer acquisition must be less than the customer’s lifetime value.

The Differences Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing is sometimes referred to as intrusive marketing because of the way it intrudes, unwanted and uninvited, into a consumer’s life. Whether it’s a television commercial, a newspaper ad, or a piece of “junk mail” cluttering up the mailbox, outbound marketing relies on a “push” method of forcing commercial messages on everyone within a certain demographic audience regardless of whether they have an interest in the product being pushed.

Inbound marketing recognizes that the Internet has provided consumers with choices as to how they receive information about brands and products, and seeks to “pull” consumers in to various web properties only after they have expressed an interest in learning more about a particular product or company. Commonly used inbound marketing techniques include SEO, blogging, social media, targeted landing pages, and video content – all of which require a considerable quantity of informative and relevant content.

When it comes to generating leads, inbound marketing techniques generally outperform outbound methods by a considerable margin – the cost of an inbound-generated lead averages $1 compared to $2.50 for an outbound-generated lead.

How Inbound Marketing Works
Quality content is the lifeblood of any effective inbound marketing program, and is quite rightly going to consume the majority of your inbound marketing spend. Plan on at least one new blog post per week, daily Facebook posts, and multiple Twitter updates throughout the day.

Depending on the number of entry points to your basic sales funnel, you’ll need multiple landing pages and a series of auto responder messages and informative reports specific to each entry point. You’re going to want to present a mix of different content formats so leave ample room in your budget for video and infographic production. Be sure to budget for quality photos and other graphics to illustrate your content.

If you have a direct sales force, you can support their efforts by providing fresh and relevant material that can be drip-fed to their prospects. Articles and reports of this sort will be better received than the standard series of product benefit emails that your sales people are probably sending, and will help get more quality prospects into your sales funnel.