What is inbound marketing?
by Lou Harnett
Attract, engage, and delight.
Put simply, this is the aim of inbound marketing: to first attract your customers with content that answers their burning questions, then engage them with relevant and truly helpful information, and finally delight them with your product or service by genuinely solving a problem of theirs.
Inbound marketing is a completely customer-centric approach to marketing. Say goodbye to in-your-face advertising and having to push your products onto everyone that encounters your business.
Instead, provide value to prospective customers and have them approach you when their buying journey begins.
How does inbound marketing work?
Inbound marketing follows a simple principle; that businesses exist to solve the problems of their customers.
To help create a framework marketers can follow, the Inbound Methodology was created. The inbound methodology utilises various types of pull marketing, including blog posts, social media, content marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO), email, and more, to help companies solve a prospective customer’s problems. All of this is done in a measurable effort to intrinsically increase brand awareness and gain quality customers. The content created aims to educate potential customers about your product or service in a manner that builds trust and loyalty by aligning what you offer with the problem they’re trying to solve. Inbound marketing covers the overarching strategy as well as the assets that work to make the strategy a reality. All of these assets have a measurable performance and can therefore be optimised for further growth and success.
Using this method appeals to prospective customers because of how organic it feels. There’s no salesy pitch on why you need a product or service (until you get to ‘decision stage' content), but rather there is helpful, entertaining, and insightful information that is ready to educate and assist a prospect. Through engaging with such content, a prospect is able to navigate their way down the sales funnel at their own pace.
For this reason, inbound marketing often yields far superior results than a traditional approach to marketing. The transition from force-feeding customers unwanted product information to openly inviting them to engage is revolutionising the marketing industry. When customers stumble across your content in this way, they’re more likely to have a positive association with your brand which will impact their future decision-making.
Customers are now the main drivers and will only encounter your business if they’re genuinely interested in what you’re offering. At first, this may sound limiting, but when you really think about it all that’s happening is the filtering out of disengaged or uninterested leads. It’s highly targeted to ‘active buyers’ - those looking to spend money to find a solution.
Inbound marketing works by:
- Attracting prospects by using techniques such as social media, SEO, blogs, and even paid advertising.
- Converting prospects into contacts/leads through calls to action, content, web forms, guides, and email marketing.
- Closing leads and turning them into customers by using automation, lead scoring, inbound selling, and more…
Inbound marketing uses all of the marketing techniques available to grow the business’s bottom line.
What are the benefits of inbound marketing?
Inbound works to sift out any leads that aren’t of good quality or are highly unlikely to convert. Having quality leads engage with your content, directly correlates to higher conversions and customer retention. This is because your customers have been nurtured down the sales funnel and are delighted with their problem-solving purchase.
The inbound methodology also positively impacts other marketing metrics, such as social media engagement, brand awareness, and search engine ranking. By creating content that supports a prospect’s problem-solving journey you’ll be picked up by searches and search engines, helping you rise above the competition. Since inbound marketing relies on delivering helpful content to customers, a key aspect is consistent social media posting, blog publishing, and website optimisation. Remaining consistent across all of these channels establishes your brand’s identity and presence among your audience, while organically drawing in your target customers. These assets generate higher engagement over time. When it comes to all things digital, consistency really is key.
Another component of the digital landscape is that customers have the ability to connect with your brand at any time. This could look like reading a blog, liking a Facebook post, searching for product prices, reading reviews, and more. Both surface information and critical buying information is constantly available for an audience’s consumption. This is why visibility through inbound marketing is so crucial. When your product or service is easily accessible, you’re far more likely to gain the business available. Ultimately, this means you can generate qualified leads for a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing and advertising.
Our favourite part? Inbound marketing provides organic leads which are gained through strategy, not necessarily a large budget. That’s right, inbound marketing is just as suited to small start-ups as it is big enterprises. There aren’t many marketing channels with such a level playing field.
Who is inbound marketing suitable for?
While it can be easier on the budget, the true expense of a robust inbound marketing strategy is time. Implementing this methodology takes considerable consistency, research, and analytics to work effectively. In saying this, the pay-off for pursuing it is well worthwhile. Any business can benefit from inbound marketing, regardless of which industry they operate in. It produces measurable and repeatable results which make the only true recipe for long-term success. It all depends on the business’ ability to execute the inbound philosophy. If your business is time-poor, a great alternative is to outsource your digital marketing needs.
HubSpot analysed recently that 70% of marketers are investing in inbound marketing, with approximately 60% saying it’s "very important" or "extremely important" for their business. Responsify also noted that businesses today are allocating around 2.5% of their annual revenue to inbound marketing. The sudden push towards inbound marketing is reflective of the stand-out results it has produced for those able to dedicate the time to achieving it. Inbound marketing is not exclusive and can generate incredible results for almost any business.
What inbound marketing tools exist?
HubSpot, Marketo, and Salesforce's Pardot are some of the biggest platforms for inbound marketing across the world. The tools differ but all focus on the same sort of methodology. Deciding which software to use can be mostly down to what inbound marketing your existing team and infrastructure can best support, as well as looking at what it may need to integrate with.
It can be difficult to weigh up the differences of each software in relation to your business needs. That’s exactly why we’ve taken the liberty of comparing them for you. Learn about the varying features, prices, integrations, and more by clicking on the button below.
filed under Content Marketing