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Inbound Marketing 101: So, Do I Just Give All of My Value for Free?

Inbound Marketing 101 - The Modern Marketer

Content Marketing

Inbound Marketing 101: So, Do I Just Give All of My Value for Free?

Today, Derek was on a live stream on Instagram with you beautiful people. He talked about the insane numbers we experience with our internal brands as well as our clients.

Things like 70% conversion rates on landing pages, 60% open rates on emails, insane engagement on social media (higher than accounts 5-10x our size), and so on. 

He showed proof, too, and everyone was astonished.

At DPA (the marketing firm that owns The Modern Marketer) when we are talking to new prospects, we often hear “we do our marketing in-house.”

This could mean “in-house” as in one person, or “in-house” as an entire team.

In fact, many followers of The Modern Marketer claim to be running marketing initiatives all year round.

I wish I knew what people REALLY meant because what we see on the outside looking in is:

  • no blog
  • low social media numbers
  • next to ZERO engagement with customers
  • horrible sales copy on websites, etc.

So what is it exactly that’s being done?

Let’s be honest with ourselves.

For small companies, communicating the value of their brand to consumers is often done with traditional marketing, but these days, the numbers just don’t add up.

Traditional marketing offline, or outbound marketing as we call it, utilizes strategies like print ads, commercials, and radio spots. There seems to be, however, a new version of traditional marketing being done online as well. Where business owners are simply using the same disruptive tactics they used to use offline, in a digital environment.

These outbound techniques are difficult and time consuming, and they don’t often yield the kind of results that offer businesses serious growth.

…like, the type of growth you talk about in your meetings or when you sit down to strategize and cast vision for your business.

So what should you do? Take your marketing inbound.

What’s inbound marketing?

The easiest way to explain the difference between inbound and outbound marketing is that with outbound, you spend money reaching out to lots of people—regardless of whether or not they are the right person to buy from you.

This can make it hard to reach the right people.

With inbound marketing, however, you utilize more cost-effective strategies targeted at your ideal customer, ultimately bringing them to you.

According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound Report, 54% more leads are generated by inbound tactics than traditional marketing.

Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Conversion rates are bound to be higher when you are sending your message in the direction of those who are most likely to be receptive of it.

You have to ask yourself, why would you even want to waste money showcasing your products and services to people who really don’t care? Well, you probably don’t, but that’s what you’re doing with outbound marketing.

Sounds great! How is inbound marketing done?

Well, for starters, you’ve got to attract your ideal customer.

If you know anything about DPA and The Modern Marketer, we’ve smacked you in face with this before:

ACE Digital Sales Funnel

That’s the A.C.E. digital sales funnel that we follow and practice in our marketing firm.

Inbound marketing follows the buyer journey (on the right hand of the graphic) of:

  1. Awareness
  2. Consideration
  3. Decision

Inbound marketing is done through blogging, killer SEO, and smart social media—all of which gives value. You can blog about your favorite recipes or offer up some packing tips—whatever is relevant to your intended audience.

That will give them a reason to engage with you while building trust in your brand.

Side-Note: It sounds so simple, yet, few brands can effectively execute inbound marketing.

Now that you’ve got your customers attention, you need to convert them. Websites that are set up without proper calls-to-action, forms, etc. make it nearly impossible for these people to take the next step and become paying customers, yet most websites don’t have them in place.

That’s a problem for the bottom line.

Once you’ve closed the sale, it’s important to keep in touch with these customers through email, social media, and events. In the graphic, that’s the Engage stage on the bottom left—if you’ve watched any of Derek’s videos or read our content, you know that we are ALL about engaging customers after the sale.

Not only do you want them to buy from you again, but you want them to share their wonderful experience with friends and family and their circles of influence.

The next steps

Now that you know you can acquire, convert, and engage customers with inbound marketing, you should also know that it’s going to save you some cash as well.

Companies save on average $20,000 per year by investing in inbound marketing instead of outbound. (Hubspot State of Inbound)

The numbers will vary, of course, and the bigger your company is, the more you stand to save, but that doesn’t mean that inbound strategies aren’t a smart investment for smaller brands. In fact, inbound marketing is truly an effective way to build brand awareness in an organic way that actually leads to increased sales and revenue.

The Modern Marketer is a testament to that.

First Steps in Inbound

One of the things our team teaches to The Modern Marketer Club members is how to immediately generate results with inbound marketing.

Since inbound typically takes a while to ramp up (as it’s a long term strategy to scale business) we like to make sure you and your business are seeing something sooner than later, regarding results.

Here’s the bottom line.

You know that what you’re offering is epic, but it’s impossible to convince potential customers of your awesomeness. You can understand that, right?

Even you wouldn’t want to throw down cash if the product or service you were paying for wasn’t tried and true, even well documented as being well done—why would you expect the same from your clients/customers?

There’s a craze happening right now, and it could completely revolutionize your business. It’s called, the freebie, lead magnet, or opt-in.

The Inherent Problems with Free

I won’t lie to you, there are definitely issues when it comes to offering stuff for free.

First of all, people could take advantage of your generosity.

It happens all the time, which means that your business could be losing revenue that it simply can’t afford to be losing.

That’s no good.

On a completely different side of the issue, money shows value, so a freebie has the potential to argue against your cause inadvertently by sending the message that what you offer isn’t worth much. If you aren’t charging for it, what does that say about the value you place on your own product or service?

I’ll admit it that free isn’t always best, but I promise you, any small business that is unique and knows their buyer persona has something to gain by creating some free offerings.

Tip: Here’s the big secret—your freebie actually has to be valuable. This is the biggest mistake we see with the whole “lead magnet” approach to Inbound Marketing. This is the first touch point you have with your users before attempting to nurture them into customers. Why would you serve them second-rate bull crap? You’re better than that and so is your brand. Offer true value. So much value people would pay for it. 

Free Offers for Service-Based Companies

As a small business owner, you’ve probably used an online software program like Hootsuite or Podio.

What made you decide to use said program?

Well, first you had a need; that’s why you found their product in the first place (likely through content).

Second, you probably got to try it out with a free trial. Sound familiar?

For service-based businesses, the free trial is an important tool. It allows prospects to try you out without throwing down their hard-earned cash. (That appeals to everyone, for real.) So how will this benefit your business?

Let’s take Hootsuite as an example.

Personally, I started out with the free version, but HAD to upgrade because I needed to add images to my scheduled posts. (Images make everything better.) Now I can’t imagine not having that feature, and I’m more than happy to pay the $9.99 per month for it.

If you can show your prospects that your service is valuable to them in a no-risk kind of way, you are much, much more likely to convert them into clients and customers.

Free For Companies That Offer Products

This can be a bit more simple for a business, but it can be a drain on resources, so product-based companies need to be smart about how and what they give away. You can use a free offer to convert a new customer or sell an existing customer on a different product.

How you make the offer is essential to success.

For example, have you ever heard of a little company called Honest?

Jessica Alba’s baby supply company sells high-quality products, and a mom that stocks up on the essentials at Walmart is likely to balk at the prices. How would Honest turn that kind of lead into a loyal customer? Well, for the small cost of shipping, they’ll allow you to pick a few items that you want and they’ll send them to you for free.

It’s a great program and helps to give potential customers who are on the fence that little push they need to dive right in. Other brands like Dollar Shave Club to the same. This tactic is used in all levels of business and for a great reason, it’s effective.

Achieve Revenue with “Free”

Inbound marketing is no joke.

It’s tough, but it’s effective.

It’s time consuming, but it’s effective.

It’s a long term strategy, but it’s effective.

If you want to build a business bigger than yourself, you have to commit to the long haul. That is the ONLY reason The Modern Marketer exists. We say a need in the market not being served and Derek gave thousands of hours of his time to make sure we filled that need with value.

Did it have an immediate return, no.

Now, however, The Modern Marketer exists.

So, get started with your freebie (that’s actually valuable) and maybe you’ll yield 70% conversion rates like us! Don’t expect that though, that’s really high… LOL!


Director of Digital Media at DPA Marketing & Media. I'm an online marketer by day, a writer by night, and a parent to 3 amazing little people always. I love hiking with the fam, creating epic content, and hotels that deliver cheeseburgers to your room at midnight.

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