What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is a way for companies to connect with and influence customers in a way that builds trust and fosters long-term relationships. It helps marketers create a customer experience that attracts prospects and increases visibility in a way that people don’t feel ‘sold’ to.
A core element of in bound marketing is content. You may have heard the term ‘content is king’, but in the case of inbound, it really is.
What this means is that quality trumps quantity and that’s what marketers should prioritize in their in-bound marketing strategy. But there’s a lot more to inbound marketing than simply creating great content.
Industries that are highly regulated, costly, or require information and guidance to help people through a process can benefit from in-bound marketing. These industries include healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, recruitment, and education.
In this blog, we look at what in-bound marketing is, how it compares to outbound marketing, how to create an inbound marketing strategy, and examine great examples to give you an idea of what works.
Inbound marketing definition
Inbound marketing is a strategic approach that focuses on creating valuable content and experiences tailored to the needs of your audience to build long-term relationships.
The key to inbound marketing is that it provides solutions to the needs of your customers. By doing that you can build lasting relationships and cultivate brand advocates.
Inbound marketing vs outbound marketing
Marketers across industries are likely to use outbound and inbound marketing strategies to engage and convert leads. But what are the differences between them?
When should you use inbound marketing?
The advantage of inbound marketing is that it attracts people that are actively looking for the service or product you provide.
For example, if a user types ‘lightweight touch screen laptop’ and you sell that product, then inbound marketing will help you to be visible to that person.
There are a few reasons you might choose an inbound marketing strategy:
- You know your target audience – If you know who to target, inbound marketing can be a great way to draw them in. SEO is a great example of this, if you research relevant keywords you can use them on your site and blogs to attract the right people. This works if you are working in a niche industry or area such as manufacturing or mining. Read our SEO Keywords Research toolkit to see how to do it.
- You want to engage an audience – If you’re looking to have a conversation or drive engagement, inbound marketing techniques are very effective. Polls or surveys can be great in this scenario and not only drive engagement but provide further insight into your audience. This may be helpful for anyone in, say, the healthcare industry looking to find out more about opinions on a product or for brand perception.
- You want quality leads – With inbound, it’s quality over quantity when it comes to leads. That’s because you are using a targeted campaign to known personas. For example, if you work in the education sector and want to target people looking to gain a credential to start a career in digital marketing, create an ebook on the subject ‘Kickstarting your Digital Marketing Career’ which will provide information but also capture data for retargeting.
- You need to measure ROI – With inbound marketing you can track and measure performance on an ongoing basis and tweak content if required. As ROI becomes more important to senior executives you need to measure campaigns to allocate budget and resources.
- You have a long sales cycle – For many B2B businesses, a long sales cycle is the norm. Prospects, in this case, need information and guidance and videos can be useful. Consider a video series with an expert or staff member with skills in a certain area. You can measure engagement to determine efficacy.
- Budget is low or limited – An inbound marketing campaign can be cost-effective. Blogs are also a great way to attract an audience if you know their needs and provide a solution. Remember to include keywords to get your audience there in the first place!
Fundamentals of inbound marketing
- Clients or customers – Your contacts are a crucial part of any inbound marketing strategy. These include those on your email or newsletter list along with partners or clients. Keep your contact list up to date and include as many details as possible to enable segmentation and personalization.
- Buyer Personas – To guide your marketing activities you should have buyer personas based on data and insights that state who your audience is, what they like and how to target them. Use our buyer persona template if you need help developing these.
- Buyer’s Journey – This follows the journey of the customer from the awareness stage through to the consideration stage and finally to the decision-making stage. You should be aware of all stages and touchpoints through the buyer’s journey to help craft the right message and content.
- Content Creation – Now that you know your audience and journey you can make decisions about the type of content to create. For example, at the awareness stage, a blog or informative video will grab attention while someone at the decision marketing stage wants more information such as a whitepaper. Have a look at our webinar on ‘How to Create Great Content that’s Guaranteed to Engage Your Audience’ for some tips and guidance.
- Business Goals – It’s crucial to understand and note your goals before you launch any campaign. That way you will meet your business objectives and have a baseline to work from to measure performance.
Inbound marketing strategy
Now that you understand the fundamentals and reasons to use an inbound marketing approach let’s look at how to create an inbound methodology to build lasting relationships with your customers or clients.
An inbound methodology can be applied in three ways:
Each way uses different content to engage and convert.