What is Inbound Marketing?
Posted in: Marketing
8 months ago
Inbound marketing is a marketing methodology that aims to increase leads and customers by producing content which attracts the visitors that are most likely to convert.
As opposed to the traditional forms of digital marketing which interrupt your potential customers with content they most likely don’t want, inbound marketing focuses on producing content which is interesting and informative (and not too sales-y) to capture the attention of the correct people and engage them in longer-term relationships, with a view to them coming back to you when they’re ready to buy.
HubSpot - the marketing software company who coined the phrase “inbound marketing” - defines the strategy as a multi-stage “flywheel” which continually feeds the marketing funnel by first attracting strangers, converting them to leads, engaging them as customers and finally delighting them in order to keep them as customers and promote your services to others. The flywheel keeps the customers at the centre and when implemented correctly should gather momentum on each revolution.
Characteristics of an inbound marketing strategy
The main characteristics of an inbound strategy are as follows:
- Inbound marketing aims to be more friendly - consumers are increasingly feeling like the advertising industry is evil, willing to do whatever it takes to convince (or even trick) people to part with their hard-earned money. An inbound marketing strategy aims to give potential customers the knowledge and information they need to make an informed decision when purchasing a product or service.
- Uses your owned and earned media - Your website, Instagram page, YouTube channel are all “owned media” and controlled by you and are used to attract and engage your customers by informative and interesting content; articles, reviews and even hashtags are all examples of “earned media” and assist your inbound marketing efforts by adding weight to your online presence from third parties. Owned and earned media feel more authentic than traditional paid media approaches - anyone can buy ads, but having high-quality backlinks from reputable sources takes hard work.
- Inbound marketing is less pushy - a successful inbound strategy informs strangers that you have the products and/or services that will solve their problems, and you’re here for them when they need you without forcing CTA’s down.
- Valuable content - long has it been said that “content is king”, but in order for this content to actually convert, it must be valuable. Valuable means different things to different people, but in the context of inbound marketing, we tend to mean engaging, informative and providing enrichment.
Inbound Marketing Strategies
ATTRACTING Audience Members
One of the most important methods of attracting quality audience members is to create and publish valuable content, usually in the form of blog articles, case studies, customer feedback etc.
Search Engine Optimisation is key to having strangers find your valuable content. Targeting keywords that are related to your products can be difficult with so many companies vying for that lucrative first page of Google, so a full SEO strategy should be very high on your list of marketing priorities. SEO and inbound marketing content work together to attract quality leads.
Your content (and in fact, every interaction) should focus on building a long-term relationship with your audience. Try to keep these interactions light and conversational, not too formal and not too sales-y; your aim is to attract repeat visitors who - over time - see you as the right person to solve their problem WITH them.
Most people prefer to believe that they’re well informed and that they’ve been smart enough to decide on the correct product or service for them, rather than being told what to buy, so rather than selling products and services, sell solutions to problems your personas have.
Customer retention is a key tenet of the inbound marketing methodology; repeat business from an existing customer should be a relatively easy sell if you’ve managed to keep that audience member engaged with good customer service, informative content or new product/service offerings.
Reaching out to customers and requesting that you use their project as a case study on your website a few months after the project has completed is a good way to re-engage with them; it shows that you care about them and that you are as proud of their project as they should be. The case study itself then becomes more (keyword heavy) engaging content for your inbound efforts and further evidence for your yet-to-convert audience that your products and services will solve their problems too.
For assistance with your own inbound marketing strategy, why not get in touch with one of our agency partners?