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What is Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing

DEFINITION:
Inbound Marketing is the process of attracting the attention of prospects, via content creation, before they are even ready to buy.

It’s one of the best and most cost-effective ways to convert strangers into customers and promoters of your business.

ORIGIN:
According to Wikipedia, the term “Inbound Marketing” was popularized by HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan and is synonymous with the concept of Permission Marketing, a 1999 book by Seth Godin.

Compared with outbound marketing, inbound reverses the relationship between company and customer. In fact, while Outbound Marketing is going to push the product through various channels, inbound marketing creates awareness, attracts and helps new customers with channels like blogs, social media, etc.

But what is REALLY Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a [ digital marketing strategy ] that in an organic and natural way attracts leads and buyers to your company when they’re looking for solutions to their problems on the Internet, usually on search engines and Social Media channels.

When we think about traditional marketing methods, we typically think about outbound marketing… buying radio and TV ads, running print ads, buying email lists, cold-calling, advertising on billboards, or sponsoring a booth at a tradeshow. We are pushing our marketing message OUT to a given audience hoping for a response, a lead, and new business. Of course, there is still a huge need for outbound marketing and inbound isn’t meant to replace this form of advertising… but instead is meant to enhance and supplement it.

Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people IN to your business and brand. They are already searching for answers online, researching your industry, checking out your competitors, and trying to decide if they really need your service or product. So, the goal is to have content that speaks to all of these scenarios and stages of the buying process in order to capture these interested prospects where they naturally are online.

By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.


Since 2006, inbound marketing has been the most effective marketing method for marketing your business online, generating leads, and decreasing your conversion time. Inbound marketing takes your digital strategy to the next level of lead generation and customer engagement. Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and hoping for leads (likely less than qualified leads), inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product through delivering relevant content, where and when they need it the most.

By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more. The best part about inbound marketing is that it is not a paid form of advertising. What is the benefit of this? Your content lives on your site as long as you want it to. The difference between that and paid, is that when you stop paying for ads with Google Adwords, Facebook ads, etc., your leads and website traffic also stop as well. That is not the case with inbound marketing.

There are 4 marketing funnels that are critical when you are talking about inbound marketing:

Attract, Convert, Close & Delight.

Let us explain each one of these in more detail.


Attract

Attracting customers is the first step in the inbound marketing methodology. At this initial marketing stage, the customer is provided with the right content, at the right place, and at the right time through search engine optimization and social media marketing. We want to attract the right strangers (your target persona) to your website and to your brand with quality, compelling content that answers the questions they have.

Some of the most important tools to attract the right users to your site are:
• Ads
• Search Engine Optimization
• Inbound Content
• Blogging
• Social Media Marketing
• Keywords research
• SEO strategies
• Outbound advertising (Yes, even using outbound advertising)
• Video

Convert

Once the right visitors have been attracted to the site, the goal is to convert them into leads through obtaining their contact information on a landing page. In order to receive this valuable information, the remarkable content they need at that very moment is offered to them. This helps give them the information they are looking for, while providing you, the marketer, with their contact information to effectively market to them.

With optimized landing pages, forms, and compelling calls-to-action we’ll convert these visitors into qualified leads. Contact information is the most valuable currency there is to the online marketer so we’ll give them premium content in exchange for it.

Some of the most important tools to convert visitors on your site are:
• Premium Content Offers (Ebooks, Whitepapers, Infographics, Checklists, etc.)
• Landing Pages
• Webinars
• Case Studies
• Tips sheets
• Calls-to-Action
• Dynamic Content & Forms

Close

The closing stage is where leads are transformed into real customers. At this later marketing stage, specific marketing tools such as marketing automation, lead scoring, closed-loop reporting, lead nurturing, and social media monitoring are utilized to ensure that the correct leads are closed at the perfect time.

Some of the most important tools to close leads into customers are:
• Marketing Automation & Workflows
• Effective Email Marketing
• List Segmentation
• Sales Alignment

Delight

Inbound marketing revolves around providing outstanding content to both your leads and your customers. This means that even after a lead is closed, they still must be engaged through dynamic content, social media, and trigger marketing. The goal of delighting the customers is both being able to solve their issues, and turn them into promoters of your business.

This sometimes overlooked component of inbound marketing can be your secret weapon in ensuring referrals and renewals. Once someone becomes a customer, you don’t want to forget about them, and you’ll continue to publish and share content that helps them better use your product or services and delight them as a partner and thought leader.

Some of the most important tools to delight your customers are:
• Personalized Website Content
• Email Marketing
• Conversations inbox
• Trigger Marketing
• Social Media Monitoring
• Surveys
• Marketing Automation

The Inbound Methodology involves the marketer in every stage of a customer’s journey to finding the perfect product or service by attracting the right visitors to your website, converting them into qualified leads, closing more sales, and delighting your customers.

What is so remarkable about this methodology is that you are in charge of your results. These successful results are achieved through inbound marketing channels and tactics that allow you to create and deliver specific and rewarding content and marketing for your leads and customers at exactly the right time.

“Inbound Marketing yields 3 times more leads per dollar than traditional methods.”

KAPOST

Inbound Marketing uses thought leadership and education and resources to help your buyers develop a relationship with your brand. The focus is on providing helpful information, offering fun or useful tips, and generally providing content that demonstrates how much you care about your prospect’s success. It offers tricks and tips, best practices, and industry guides, and it’s job is to draw prospects who may or may not be looking for your company at that point in their buying cycle by appealing to them on an informative level.

These aren’t the only types of content that work for inbound, but what they have in common is that they work well at a high level to educate a prospect about the potential for a product, rather than a product or service itself. This is why you need to combine your inbound marketing methods above with the hard-sell, or ‘outbound’ marketing methods that will move prospects through the sales funnel.

The process of implementing an Inbound Marketing Automation system must begin with a marketing strategy. May seem “old fashioned” when thinking about Inbound, but unless you know what you are selling, to who, and how and when and where, and something about your competitors and a fair amount about your ideal prospects, your chances of success are not good.

Yet for many high tech start-ups, the above is sadly true and looking to Inbound Marketing won’t help unless you correct the above first. Today 92% of B2B buyers begin their search for a solution online – hence the shift to Inbound is inevitable. But choosing the right keywords, the ones which you hope your prospects type into Google, begins as a marketing exercise. These keyword phrases are in essence your online brand identity and must be based on the answers to the questions posed above. When you have your strategy, it may be easier for you to design the Process of using your Inbound Marketing Automation into 4 sub-processes.

1) Attract more visitors to your website through SEO, Social Media Marketing, and, if needed, PPC
2) Engage their attention with industry leading content (website copy, white papers, videos, podcasts)

3) Convert them by getting their names and email addresses in return for valued content. Grade their profiles (each time they visit ask them a few more questions) and score their digital footprints (their activities on the site), to rack up points. Keep them in your funnel by automatically nurturing them around their buying cycle, educating them automatically with multi-touch drip email campaigns cultivating them from cold lead to hot prospect.

4) And when their Grade and Score reach your target levels, automatically feed these prospects directly into your CRM. No more cold calls as they person they call knows them from the emails, and the sales person knows the prospect from the Profile and activity on site.


Being leveraged by the power of Social Media platforms, which in turn gave rise to a more empowered and informed consumer, the shift from “outbound” to inbound marketing meant that brands had to prioritize value-adding content and connection over direct response tactics.

Now, the game is changing once more. Brands have become skilled at creating valuable content—but now, consumers are inundated with it. Putting out valuable content is now the baseline—it’s essential.

• Using inbound marketing methods with outbound marketing methods can help you better target segments of your audience, from prospects to existing clients, to specific industries and job levels.

• An important part of any inbound marketing strategy is the buyer’s journey. If you don’t, you’ll waste valuable time and money.

C O N C L U S I O N

In short, you have three stages of the buyer’s journey:

There are more, but these are the basics…

■ Awareness – where the buyers are identifying a problem
■ Consideration – where they identified the problem and are looking for a solution
■ Decision – where they choose a solution

As you can see, there is no point in trying to sell to a person who isn’t even aware they need your services, so you need to be patient and create a strategy that is attentive to your prospects needs and mental stage.

If implemented correctly, inbound marketing services can offer hundreds of benefits, like generate qualified leads with low cost, increase brand awareness, impact upcoming purchases of prospects, get broader reach, create trust and credibility, increase social media shares and inbound links, and have increased conversation with customers 24/7.

That being said, if you implement inbound marketing strategy in your business, these three important elements are crucial.

• SEO (Search engine optimization)
• Content marketing
• Social media

Please allow us to help you!

We’ve helped different companies providing this service. You don’t have to do it alone. Allow us to do the hard and difficult part of the process. In that way you can use your time in a better way.


It's a Social Media and Digital Marketing consultant, owner and founder of LFStudio. He is also author and entrepreneur. He helps small businesses to get clients online, generate income and grow.

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