Inbound or Outbound – Which Marketing Strategy is Best?

The way we market hospitality brands, services and products has changed considerably in the last decade. This has been driven by a change in consumer behaviour, due to the development of internet technologies and how people use them. According to a report on the European Commission website, 87% of internet users in Britain made an online purchase in 2016 and these figures are growing year on year.

With the ever developing digital consumer, we look at whether hospitality companies should be transitioning from an Outbound to an Inbound Marketing strategy.

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Outbound Marketing

Commonly referred to as interruptive marketing, the outbound methodology is focused on actively seeking potential customers. The practice involves pushing a message out far and wide to broad audiences, grabbing the attention of anyone willing or forced to look.

Traditional advertising methods such as billboards, cold-calling, TV and radio ads are identified as Outbound. However, these are becoming less effective and less affordable, with mainly just large corporations paying for the diminishing results as part of a larger ‘top-of-mind’ brand awareness campaign. More affordable, modern, versions of outbound marketing exist, such as internet banner ads, pop-ups and cold-emailing. But, as with traditional advertising, these methods come at a price and they are also becoming less effective.

Technology is not only enabling these marketing methods, but it is also empowering the consumer to block and avoid these interruptive practices. Just as consumers are able to fast-forward adverts on recorded/on-demand TV, they are also using ‘ad blockers’ while browsing the internet. Consumers don’t want to be told what to buy or when to buy it. Instead, they want to research themselves (at a time that suits them) and make informed buying decisions. In-steps Inbound Marketing.

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Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing challenges traditional Outbound marketing techniques, by not fighting for the customers attention. Inbound is defined, by its originators Hubspot, as “an approach focused on attracting customers through content and interactions that are relevant and helpful”. The focus is on being found by your potential customer, not seeking them out to sell them a dinner for two at your restaurant or tickets to your event.

Inbound traditionally uses social publishing and SEO techniques to promote content, making it visible to the consumer when they are looking for it. This requires skills and resources to create, but unlike outbound, this is the end of your costs. Once you have created, optimised and published your content it continues working for you.

A contentious form of promotion in the world of inbound, is Pay-Per-Click advertising. At LeadDigital, we believe using AdWords to promote your content to the right people, at the right time, forms part of the inbound strategy. Promoting your content at the top of the Search Engine Results Pages enhances the visibility of the content and ensures you are seen above your competitors.

With Inbound, the onus is put on the content to engage your potential customer and answer any questions they may have when making their buying decision. This shouldn’t be a problem, because who knows your potential customers better than you do? You can create Buyer Personas to help you focus content around your potential customer. These personas describe your ideal customer and detail their typical challenges and interests, which you can use to engage the reader.

What content should you be looking to create? Here are some content examples that are applicable to hospitality businesses;

Blog Posts

Market your brand in new and interesting ways. Share the latest developments and provide a relatable character to your business.

FAQs

Answer questions that potential customers may have and point them in the direction of further relevant information and how to purchase your product.

Reviews

Develop trust and turn your existing customers into promoters.

Menus

Potential customers will want to see the options before booking a table at your restaurant or bar.

Checklists

For all they need to make the most of their visit.

Guides

To the surrounding area of your venue or of the different room options at your resort.

Images and Videos

Visual representations showing your products and services.

Infographics

Show the history of your business through an infographic.

Conclusion

In years gone by, print, TV and attention-grabbing online advertising were the cutting-edge and most effective way businesses could influence potential customers. But, with the development of technology, consumer behaviour has changed and the Outbound method of actively searching for potential buyers is becoming ineffective and inefficient. Why try to buy your way in front of consumers, when they aren’t paying attention?

Today, a large proportion of consumers are purchasing through internet connected technologies. They are also using the internet to make informed buying decisions, researching articles online and seeking reviews from their peers before making purchases. Inbound Marketing is the answer to the evolving consumer behaviours and your answer to attracting new bookings and sales for your hospitality business. Better still, it’s cheaper than outbound marketing and is based on tapping into knowledge resources that likely already exists within your company.

 

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What Is Inbound Marketing?

Over the past 5 years the term “Inbound Marketing” has been rapidly growing in popularity.

The term Inbound Marketing is credited to being first coined by Hubspot’s co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan, during the company’s inception back in 2006. Hubspot are the developers of one of the leading content marketing platforms for business of all sizes – a platform we at LeadDigital are committed to using ourselves and one we know to be beneficial to hospitality businesses such as event venues, bars, restaurants and hotels.

Inbound marketing describes the marketing strategy of attracting customers through digital content and interactions to your website. However, you may be more familiar associating this description with the term content marketing. You aren’t wrong! Content marketing is the process of attracting prospects to your website through a variety of content formats, like video, case studies, infographics, etc. However, inbound goes beyond this.

Arguably, content marketing has been incorporated as a part, or subset, of inbound. Content marketing only covers the initial stage of attracting potential customers within the inbound methodology as you can see from the graphic below.

Inbound-Methodology

Inbound Methodology

The above graphic represents Hubspot’s Inbound Methodology. It is made up of four actions, along the top (Attract, Convert, Close, Delight), which companies must take in order to obtain visitors, leads, customers and promoters. Along the bottom are the tools companies use to accomplish these actions. It is important to note these tools are listed under the action where they first come into play. Tools, like email, can play a big role in several stages of the inbound methodology.

The overall practice focuses on turning strangers into customers and customers into evangelists of your brand. Here is a quick summary of each stage of the inbound methodology, with reference to the above graphic;

Attract

Potential customers discover your hospitality brand through content such as blogs, videos and reviews via social media publishing and search engines. This content needs to aim at providing helpful information and answer questions. These are questions you know your potential customers will have when researching and booking a hotel, event venue, or table at your restaurant, for example.

This stage of the practice relies on a strong understanding of search engine optimisation and content creation skills. It also requires a good understanding of your customer base and an ability to pick out characteristics of your ideal customers. See more on how inbound can help your hospitality business increase sales.

Convert

Having successfully attracted potential customers to your site, this is where you make your website work for you. Using a combination of Call To Action buttons, Landing Pages and Forms, you capture the details of your potential customers, turning them into enquiries (leads).

Close

This is where having a good CRM (customer relationship management) system, that keeps a record of all customer interactions, really supports you in turning an enquiry into a customer. Email also plays an important role at this stage as a form of drip marketing, which nurtures your prospective guests and encourages them into becoming customers. An email marketing platform, like Hubspot’s or MailChimp, can automate much of this process while providing a customised experience (see point 5 in Why Your Hospitality Email Marketing isn’t Working!).

Delight

Continually using your CRM system to manage communications with existing customers. You can utilise email and initiate social monitoring to connect with your customer, provide excellent service and keep your brand top-of-mind. It is during this stage where delighting your customer also turns them into an evangelist of your hospitality brand.

Conclusion

Inbound begins with the principles of content marketing and utilises other tools and disciplines, which you may already be familiar with, to generate qualified leads, increase sales and convert customers into promoters.

We at LeadDigital work with hospitality businesses to establish and manage inbound marketing strategies, which deliver high quality enquiries and increase bookings.

If you’d like to attract more guests to your website and increase the volume of repeat business, then click below!

 

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How to Increase Sales with Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing has become one of the most effective marketing methods for generating business online. It is becoming the go to hospitality marketing strategy – helping luxury hotels, restaurants and event companies to generate new bookings and sales, across the UK.

This article looks at the initial stage of the inbound hospitality marketing methodology of attracting potential customers to your website.

So, how can inbound marketing help your hospitality business increase sales?

Firstly, let’s establish what inbound marketing is.

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What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound is all about producing content that your prospective customers find interesting and helpful. It is a method of attracting your potential customers to your website and raising awareness of your brand and service offerings. This is what is known as a “non-intrusive” marketing method, achieved through content channels such as;

  • Blogs
  • Social Media
  • Landing Pages
  • Videos
  • E-Newsletters and more…

These all contribute towards your inbound marketing strategy for attracting customers to your service or product. This content, created with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) fundamentals at it’s foundation, focuses on answering questions you know your potential customers may be searching the internet for, before making a buying decision.

Aiming your content towards answering specific customer queries with relevant and optimised information will generate a high ranking on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). This in turn, will drive interaction from your target audience with your website. Which, if set up correctly, will work for you – converting your visitors into customers.

Not only is this a highly effective method for generating new bookings and sales, but it is also extremely cost-effective in comparison to other marketing methods such as paid advertising. With both inbound and paid advertising, you pay for the time and resources to create your content. But with paid advertising, you also pay to appear above the natural, search engine optimised, results. Once you stop paying, you stop appearing.

With inbound marketing, the content you create keeps working for you long after the initial cost of the resources it took to create it. If your potential customers keep searching for the relevant terms covered by your content and your website proves to be the destination for their search queries, you’ll keep appearing atop the results pages.

How does it work for Hospitality Businesses?

More and more hospitality companies are buying into the inbound marketing methodology, creating content to attract more qualified visitors and drive more direct bookings and sales from their websites. Here are the first steps in attracting the right visitors (potential customers) to your website and making them aware of your brand and service offering:

1. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Optimise your website so that Google and other Search Engines can easily understand what your website is about (known as indexing). You can achieve this by ensuring relevant keywords (industry terminology) for your service, page titles and user-friendly URLs are used throughout your site. The result will be a higher ranking on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), making you more visible to your potential customers when they are looking for the answers you’re providing.

2. Blogging

While you may be limited to a number of pages, based on the number of services or products you provide, blogs allow for infinite content creation on anything and everything. Create content on subjects you know are of interest to potential customers, based on experience with existing and past customers. Giving them insight and helpful information will influence the buying decision when the time is right.

Example:

If you run a restaurant or hotel – creating content covering the best things to do in the area your business is situated in, may attract an audience researching what to do when visiting that area. This transforms what was a stranger, to your business, into a visitor and will raise the awareness of your brand and services.

Regular and frequent blog posts also show that the site is active and “fresh”, which has a positive impact on Google rankings, according to Moz.

3. Social Media Publishing

While creating optimised, keyword rich content is a great start, it isn’t enough on it’s own. You need to be actively promoting content and reaching your customers in the world they inhabit on a daily basis, the land of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Having a consistent social media presence, and including the right hashtags, can keep you in the forefront of your potential customer’s mind. Plus, on social platforms the users have the opportunity to share articles of interest with their network, extending your reach even further.

No matter what life cycle stage your Luxury Events, Transportation, Bar, Hotel or Restaurant company is currently in, you will have looked at multiple marketing strategies for your business. Inbound is one of the most effective hospitality marketing methods for attracting more highly qualified visitors to your website, which leads to better conversion rates and ultimately more direct bookings and sales.

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