What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is an entire style of marketing, based on attracting and converting customers organically, and fueling sales decisions with persona-tailored information; it’s grooming sales funnel leads using engagement and natural interest, as opposed to intrusive outbound strategies. This generates high quality, interest-driven conversions, and ultimately results in more qualified traffic to a business’s site.
Content assets such as blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, infographics and case studies can all be used to attract attention and draw interested prospects to your website, where the first step is to gain their interest and educate them about your offerings.
To find true success with inbound marketing, it takes more than an active social media presence, search engine optimisation (SEO) or regular blogging alone. The inbound methodology calls for unified campaigns and consumer-driven content incorporating these elements, as well as others.
You don’t go halfway in with inbound marketing; it’s all-or-nothing, which, as many companies learn, is what makes it such an effective strategy for converting audiences. In an inbound strategy, all elements and practices are aligned, which pushes qualified leads through your sales funnel in a natural way.Image courtesy of HubSpot
Inbound Within the Scope of Marketing
Inbound extends far beyond digital and content marketing, and consists of many unique moving components outside of these marketing practices. The key takeaway here is that for most online audiences, bare-bones digital marketing tactics fall short for one reason: value.
Inbound marketing is an intricate, interest- and persona-based approach to marketing, which champions providing useful information and answers over generating large volumes of unqualified traffic.
How does the Inbound Marketing methodology work?
The 4 stages of the inbound marketing methodology are Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. Following these steps will steer consumers away from being strangers and toward being promoters of your brand! At each stage there are specific methods by which this conversion is achieved. It is important that your marketing actions are timely and targeted, and this is what the methodology aims to help you accomplish.
STEP 1: ATTRACT
When someone picks up your marketing materials you have 30 seconds or less to convince him or her that you can help. The Buyer is saying,
You better tell me something from the beginning that blows my mind, changes my world, or makes me say, ‘Where have you been all my life?'
As with most budding relationships, the first step is attraction. As a business, you want to draw in individuals who can potential become your customers. These individuals are called buyer personas, and they are at the center of your inbound marketing efforts.
Attracting your buyer personas requires a focused inbound marketing strategy that starts with quality content creation. This content needs to not only draw your personas in, but also compel them to transition to the next step of the conversion process.
Here are the primary things you can do to attract your buyer personas:
- Start blogging
- Get active on social media
- Utilise keywords
- Optimise your webpages
STEP 2: CONVERT
After you have attracted your buyer personas to your brand, the next step is converting them into marketing qualified leads (MQLs). This requires lead nurturing, and to begin the process you will need to obtain the contact information of your site visitors. Contact information is currency to the inbound marketer. The challenge is going about obtaining it.
Traditionally, when you want something you need to offer something in return. The same rules apply to the inbound marketer who is seeking contact information from targeted consumers.
You need to offer something of value to your buyer persona for them to be willing to relinquish their contact details. This “something of value” comes in the form of content – eBooks, whitepapers, blog posts, webinars, etc. – essentially any sort of materials that your audience would find valuable.
There are some key tools that you need as a marketer to make this exchange of information effective:
- Calls-to-Action (CTA’s)
- Landing Pages
- Contact Tracking
STEP 3: CLOSE
The next step in the inbound marketing methodology is “closing” your leads and turning them into happy customers. Because this goal is consumer-focused, the process is typically a joint sales and marketing effort. Your leads should become “sales-qualified” and ready to buy by the end of this step.
There are a few techniques that will help guide your leads into becoming customers:
- Lead Scoring
- Marketing Automation
- Closed-Loop Reporting
STEP 4: DELIGHT
With inbound marketing you don’t abandon your customers once they have made a purchase. Your goal is to establish brand loyalty, and in order to do so you need to continue to show your customers that you still value them.
You do this by continuing to engage with your customers online. Highly targeted calls-to-action, interaction on social media, and email and marketing automation are some of the most effective strategies you can use to achieve this.
By delighting your customers you create greater sales opportunities – not only with your existing customers, but also with those that they share their positive experiences with!
An inbound approach to online marketing will undoubtedly give your company a lasting competitive advantage.