Why Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing focuses on attracting, engaging, and delighting customers through valuable and relevant content. Draw potential customers to your brand through useful and informative content; attract qualified leads and build trust with your target audience.
How Inbound Marketing Works
Delivers Real Value
Delivers Real Value
Inbound marketing uses all the components of traditional content marketing: blog articles, email, social media, infographics, and more. The key is how you put all those pieces together! A central principle of the inbound marketing methodology is that your content should deliver value to your audience. It's not about direct selling--it's about informing, educating, and becoming a trusted resource.
Measure Your Success in Sales,
Not Just Traffic
Not Just Traffic
Website traffic is terrific, but you need to improve your bottom line.
That's where inbound strategies win: it treats marketing and sales as two steps in the same customer journey rather than two separate, discrete departments in your company. Sales needs drive inbound marketing decisions, and inbound marketing drives more leads for the sales team.
Supercharge Stellar Content
Already generating excellent content? That's only the first step.
The right automation can dramatically improve the distribution and readership of your content. Using the framework of inbound marketing, you can automate emails, social media, and workflows.
We'll help you automate your marketing so that it works around the clock, helping. you connect with visitors on their time.
What is Inbound Marketing?
You're a marketer or a business owner, and you're trying to boost sales or increase your digital presence, or otherwise grow your business. Maybe you've heard the term inbound marketing or content marketing, but you're leery of buzzwords, and you don't want to waste your time on a fad. Maybe you've even tried some techniques that go along with the inbound approach, like running a blog or increasing your social media presence.
In the digital world we live in, it's no wonder businesses are turning to digital marketing initiatives to meet their bottom line. When it comes to your digital presence, simply being online isn’t enough anymore. You have to find marketing strategies that match the online behavior of your ideal buyers.
Most marketers understand that customers are turning to the Internet to find what they’re looking for; in fact, a recent study conducted by Fleishman-Hillard found that 89% of consumers begin their buying journey with a search engine.
This leaves companies like yours with two burning questions: “How do we build brand awareness and get our website to the top of the results page? And once they’re on our site, how do we convert visitors to customers?”
In 2006, HubSpot coined “inbound marketing,” which refers to attracting prospective customers with targeted, relevant content. Inbound and content marketing are often used interchangeably, but they both reflect the same fundamental digital realities: customers don't want to be sold to; they want to be educated. They want businesses to add value for them even before they've taken the step of purchasing a product or ordering a service. A successful Inbound Marketing Strategy seeks to find ways to provide that value, whether through blog posts or free consultations. Traditional outbound techniques can still bring in business. Still, the reason you've been hearing so much about inbound lately is that outbound sales in isolation are no longer enough for most businesses.
What are the advantages of going inbound, and how does it help businesses attract relevant visitors and convert them into leads?
How Does Inbound Marketing Generate Results?
A long-term inbound marketing strategy will generate sustainable results. But developing an inbound marketing strategy won’t happen overnight. It takes time and planning to strategize, create, and set realistic goals and expectations. Then you use the data you collect to fine-tune and recalibrate your content, so you’re hitting even more of your target audience with even less wasted spending.
Setting out a long-term strategy like inbound marketing makes it possible to generate more sustainable results. You’re creating a database of relevant and engaging articles, videos, and other content that you can use to draw in and convert new customers for years to come. You can use inbound marketing to create a personalized experience for your customers and, in doing so, build their trust.
Then word-of-mouth marketing can kick in, with these happy customers telling their network about your business and how you solved their issues. They will gladly share how trusted and knowledgeable you are in your field and how much these other companies will benefit by engaging with you.
Pretty soon, you’ll have an army of happy customers doing your marketing for you!
Now, at this point, you might be thinking that you don't need inbound marketing or that you don't need content marketing more broadly. Conversely, you might find that there are just too many possible marketing strategies, and you're struggling to choose the right one to meet your business goals. Are you seeing good traffic metrics for your site but not seeing those visits convert to sales? Or have you recently seen a decline in website visitors and want to see those numbers increase to their old level? Or maybe your numbers are fine, but you’re looking for growth.
How Does Inbound Marketing Drive Growth?
At this point, you may feel like you understand what inbound is and how inbound marketing (or content marketing) compares and contrasts with other methods of attracting leads. But there's still something that you can't quite put your finger on: how does inbound help you grow your business?
With so many options to market to your existing and prospective customers, it's more difficult than ever to attract and hold people’s attention long enough to convert them into paying customers and increase your company’s growth potential. Once you have their eyeballs on your company website, how do you convey the information you need them to have to make the right choice and pick you over your competitors?
That’s where inbound marketing comes in.
Inbound marketing drives growth by creating an exceptional customer experience, improving brand reputation, and increasing customer loyalty.
One of the key elements of inbound marketing is creating a landing page, which serves as a central hub for all your inbound marketing efforts. A well-designed landing page includes a clear call-to-action (CTA), an invitation to take a specific action, such as signing up for a newsletter or downloading a piece of content. The landing page should be easy to navigate and designed to meet the needs and expectations of the target audience.
Downloadable content, such as ebooks, whitepapers, and infographics, is a crucial component of inbound marketing. Offering valuable and relevant information in exchange for contact information, such as an email address, helps to convert prospects into leads. The content should be of high quality, solve a problem, or answer a relevant question to the target audience. By providing helpful information, inbound marketers establish their brand as a thought leader and build trust with their prospects and customers.
By focusing on the needs of the customer, inbound marketing establishes a strong connection with the target audience, which ultimately leads to long-term growth.
The title of Simon Sinek’s book says, “Start with Why.” This means you start your sales pitch by NOT selling anything. You start it by connecting with the people behind the business. Then work up to telling them how you can help them make their business everything you know it can be. And from there, you sell your services to achieve this growth.
How Do You Create Content for Inbound Marketing?
The content itself can take many forms. A company blog is a great way to share detailed stories or updates. The myriad social media platforms connect with people when they're looking to be entertained, so posting funny videos or pictures that draw attention to a certain aspect of your business creatively is a fantastic way to draw people in.
Content marketing is fundamentally about educating customers; it’s also an opportunity to be creative and craft an experience that will delight them personally, make them subscribe/follow you and your business, and, most importantly, make them customers for life. If you're really good, they may even tell their friends!
"Content marketing is fundamentally about educating customers; it’s also an opportunity to be creative and craft an experience that will delight..."
Regarding content marketing, we believe in the power of planning and strategy. If you're just starting, be sure to begin with a plan in place. If you've been at this for a while, take this time to reassess your goals. What do you want to accomplish with your content, and how will you accomplish it? Getting started is key. And if you're looking for more tips on turning your team into expert bloggers, download our FREE blogging eBook by clicking below.
When planning your inbound marketing strategy and considering what content to generate, keep the following ideas in mind:
1. Educate Your Visitors
Think of content marketing as having a conversation with a potential customer. What do you want them to know about your company? What are the key pieces of information you want to be sure they have right off the bat?
According to a Demand Gen report, 47% of buyers viewed 3-5 pieces of content before engaging with a company representative. Make those pieces of content count by ensuring that your offerings contain relevant information. To become their trusted advisor for all things relating to your industry, you need to connect on this personal level.
2. Solve Your Customers' Problems
The next step in successful content marketing is to tell your customers how you, by way of your business, can solve the problems they identify in their businesses. How do you know what these problems are?
Then tell them how you can help. "Want to increase your company's revenue stream? Here are the four ways we can get you the growth numbers you're looking for." By engaging with your customers in the comments section of your blog or by replying to their tweets, you develop and maintain the kind of relationship people feel good about. Once you've identified a handful of these problems, create content that outlines how you can solve them.
3. Keep Multiple Channels in Mind
When you're building your content strategy, it's essential to consider what information you want your customers to get and at which point in their relationship with your company. A necessary corollary is that you want to tailor your content to each platform you use. For example, if you have an article that covers "The five most important things to know about XYZ," you will want that on the company blog or in an email newsletter. On the other hand, if your creative department came up with some great new videos showcasing the newest widgets in your industry, think along the lines of Facebook or Twitter.
4. It's About Trust
The bottom line, you want your customers to use your company because they trust you. By using content marketing strategies and by being open and honest about your company and how you can help solve its problems, you can build up that trust. This will keep your existing customers loyal, as well as help bring in new customers who got excited about working with you because someone they already trust shared your content. Now your company is growing and, in turn, helping you help them grow theirs.
Why Is Inbound Marketing Important For Your Marketing Strategy?
1. Inbound brings leads to you
Inbound marketing is truly a product of the digital age. It’s a uniquely 21st-century approach that opposes traditional means of reaching customers, such as print ads, radio ads, billboards, and telemarketing. These are more of a shotgun approach that lacks focus and targeting.
Although these strategies are still used, more and more marketers are finding that inbound allows them to reach a much more targeted audience, allowing them to then focus on the specific issues customers are facing. In turn, this allows them to respond with specific ways they can help. This is establishing the right customer relationships from the very beginning.
By creating blog posts, for example, that offer people relevant, timely, and interesting quick takes on the state of your industry (for example); you position your website as a source of high-quality information that will keep potential customers coming back for more.
There are myriad social media platforms where you can link to these informative posts on your company website. This is another way to bring eyeballs to your company site while creating additional means by which your customers, existing and potential alike, can interact with you and your company.
These repeated visits will lead to more potential customers converting to paying customers when they see how your content fosters interactions. This will keep people on your site longer and encourage them to explore other pages to learn more about you and your company. And the extra engagement and interaction on social media give you added opportunities to explain how you can assist in solving their business problems.
The best part? All of these customers are being drawn to your site without you contacting them directly and without any direct sales pitches being needed!
2. Engagement leads to trust
Ok, now that your potential customers are finding your website via the content you’re posting to various outlets, it’s time to gain their trust. By conveying information relevant to the issues they’re having - you move yourself and your company into a position of trust.
According to a study by Demand Gen Report, 47% of buyers view at least 3 to 5 pieces of content before deciding to speak with a company representative. By demonstrating that you can be a valuable resource in a non-intrusive way, you help lay the foundation for a relationship based on valuable content and trust.
This direct engagement between the customer and your company is your chance to demonstrate clearly and concisely how you can solve their problems. They are now solidly in the middle of the sales funnel, and it’s time for you to wow them with even more of your great content and convert them to the final stage of a happy customer.
3. Results power better strategies
Inbound marketing strategies are full of clear, measurable actions. This leads to data you collect and use as a tool to see what’s working and what’s not, much faster than in traditional marketing methods. You'll be able to see what content is driving up engagement and where opportunities exist for future strategies to be implemented. You will also see what content is maybe falling flat and trim that from your plans.
For example, inbound might track how long someone watched a video, what pages they viewed, how many downloads of an eBook, etc. This data, in turn, allows you to tailor your new content to match what most people are already looking for and engaging with.
4. Cost efficiencies matter
As Benjamin Franklin said in 1748, “time is money.” Since inbound marketing allows you to tailor your message to relevant visitors, then engage with them until they convert to customers, you can fine-tune where your marketing money is going. By creating only relevant content that you know prospective customers are looking for, you can trim waste by not spending on ads that no one sees.
Although inbound isn’t meant as a be-all-and-end-all marketing strategy, it allows you to reallocate your dollars toward more effective spending.
"Although inbound isn’t meant as a be-all-and-end-all marketing strategy, it provides the opportunity to reallocate your dollars toward more effective spending."
How Does Inbound Marketing Compare to Outbound Marketing?
Whatever your specific situation, there are so many marketing strategies out there that it can be hard to sift through them all to find the one, or the combination of ones, that's right for your company. Well, help is on the way. In this section, we'll aim to define, then briefly compare and contrast, two strategies - one inbound and one outbound.
Those strategies are content marketing and Pay-Per-Click (PPC). Before we dive in for a more detailed view of these options and how they can interact for additional impact, let's start with a quick definition of terms:
Content marketing is “marketing that tries to attract customers by distributing informational content potentially useful to the target audience, rather than by advertising products and services in the traditional way.” (Dictionary.com). An approach with a rapidly growing following, allowing you to develop a relationship with your customers as a trusted resource and partner.
Content marketing allows you to nurture this relationship with existing and new customers by creating informative content that brings them back to your website because they see it as a resource. This fosters interaction, which leads to conversions. You'll notice that this sounds like how we described inbound marketing above. There's a good reason for that: the two ideas are closely linked, and when it comes to things like blogging and content creation, they can be used interchangeably. Still, you may have heard it contrasted with PPC in the past, so we'll spend this section talking about it in its terms.
Pay-per-click, better known as PPC, is defined as: "a system used to set prices for online advertisements on a search engine or other website, by which the advertiser pays a small fee to the website publisher each time a user clicks on the advertisement." (Dictionary.com).
You've undoubtedly seen PPC ads when you've used a search engine like Google (I’ll be lumping all search engines under this universal term for brevity). At the top of a page of search results, you’ll generally see a small number of paid ads. These are there as a result of PPC: the company being advertised pays Google each time a visitor clicks their ad. PPC campaigns are increasingly showing up on social media platforms as well.
Now that you have the definitions, the question remains - which marketing method is suitable for your company?
PPC - Click Generator
As briefly described above, PPC involves paid search, that is, paying a search engine such as Google to display your ad on their website. Each time someone clicks your ad, you are billed a small fee.
Much of the strategy in this method revolves around keyword use. The more specific keywords you use, the better targeted your ad will be, translating into the right people seeing your ad and clicking through to your website.
With PPC marketing, you can increase your visibility at the cost of time spent researching keywords, and ad placement strategies, analyzing metrics, and adjusting your preferences with each search engine. This strategy can often become expensive fairly quickly. Additionally, many savvy internet users have browser plugins that block these ads from even appearing, or they prefer organic search results, which are driven largely by our next marketing strategy - content marketing.
Content Marketing - Marketing, Sustainably
Content marketing, on the other hand, works by attracting customers through timely, industry-specific content. With this strategy, it's all about adding a value proposition for your customer, in this case, helpful content, to keep them coming back for more. You want them to view you and your business as a trusted, reliable resource. There are a variety of content channels available: blogs, vlogs, ebooks, videos, and email newsletters, for starters. Each plays a role in helping you create engaging content and feed the interactions that transform a first-time visitor to your website into a loyal, repeat customer.
Creating the content for this strategy will take time and resources. It will also:
help you grow your readership/followers,
inspire trust in your customers (new and existing alike),
and lead to them putting you in that coveted position as a trusted advisor
Creating fresh, inspiring content regularly will also benefit your website’s SEO or Search Engine Optimization. This, in turn, improves your ranking in the organic search results on Google. According to MarTech, 70-80% of search engine users only focus on organic results. With better SEO, more searchers are bound to find you.
Decision Time - PPC? Or Content Marketing?
Now that you have a handle on these two competing yet complimentary marketing options, the question remains - which marketing method is suitable for your company?
The truth is that both are viable marketing techniques, and they can work well together. The rest of the truth is that no amount of money spent driving clicks to your website is worth much if you don't have quality content for visitors to see once they get there.
Therefore, the best bang for your buck is building that trust. Engage your customers and build that sense of trust within your industry. How? By creating high-quality, engaging, topical, and even inspiring content.
The best bang for your buck is to start building that trust.
It’s true creating meaningful and engaging content that will attract customers does take time and expertise. That said, the potential for sustainable growth is immeasurable. The Marketing Institute says that "Content marketing generates over three times as many leads as outbound marketing and costs 62% less." So, content marketing brings in more customers, cheaper than traditional outbound marketing.
As a bonus, your customers will see you as a trusted source of helpful information rather than a persistent annoyance who never lets up with the sales pitches.
Then maybe as your company begins to see the associated growth of clients who love you and tell all their friends about you, it will be time to consider using PPC to drive even more customer eyeballs to that storehouse of knowledge you’ve created.
According to industry leader HubSpot,
Paid ad campaigns present an effective marketing channel when used strategically and in sync with other initiatives
PPC has the potential to drive new eyeballs to your website. Without a high-quality, informative, trust-inspiring content marketing strategy, these eyes won't stay around long enough to convert.
As with any strategy, intent and focused attention are paramount. By creating a solid base of content for customers to read, watch, and interact with - you’ll create and keep customers for life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Outbound marketing, also known as traditional marketing or interruption marketing, is a marketing strategy that relies on interrupting people with advertising messages to get their attention. Outbound marketing tactics include TV and radio ads, print ads, cold calling, and direct mail.
In contrast, inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on attracting customers to your business through content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and other tactics that pull people toward your brand. Inbound marketing helps you build trust and credibility with your audience, and it can be an effective way to reach and engage potential customers at every stage of the buying journey.
One key difference between inbound and outbound marketing is that outbound marketing is often seen as intrusive or disruptive. In contrast, inbound marketing is more subtle and is focused on providing value to the customer. Inbound marketing also tends to be more cost-effective than outbound marketing, as it often involves creating long-term assets (like blog posts or ebooks) that can continue to generate leads and sales for your business over time.
- Cost-effective: Inbound marketing is often more cost-effective than outbound marketing, as it involves creating long-term assets (like blog posts or ebooks) that can continue to generate leads and sales for your business over time.
- Targeted: Inbound marketing allows you to reach and engage potential customers at every stage of the buying journey, which means you can deliver targeted messages to people who are most likely to be interested in your products or services.
- Measurable: Inbound marketing efforts can be easily tracked and measured, which allows you to see what's working and what's not, and make adjustments as needed.
- Builds trust and credibility: By providing valuable, informative content to your audience, you can build trust and credibility with your potential customers.
- Increases website traffic: Inbound marketing efforts, like SEO and social media marketing, can help increase traffic to your website, which can in turn lead to more leads and sales.
- Long-term results: Inbound marketing efforts tend to have long-term results, as the assets you create (like blog posts or ebooks) can continue to generate leads and sales for your business over time.
- Define your target audience: The first step in any inbound marketing campaign is to define your target audience. Whom are you trying to reach? What are their needs and goals? Understanding your audience will help you create content and campaigns that are relevant and appealing to them.
- Set your marketing goals: What do you want to achieve with your inbound marketing efforts? Do you want to increase website traffic, generate leads, or boost sales? Setting clear goals will help you focus your efforts and measure the success of your campaigns.
- Create a content strategy: Inbound marketing relies on creating valuable, informative content that your audience will find useful and interesting. I'd like you to develop a content calendar that outlines the types of content you will create, how often you will publish it, and where you will share it.
- Optimize your website: Make sure your website is optimized for inbound marketing. This includes making sure it is mobile-friendly, easy to navigate, and has clear calls to action.
- Promote your content: Once you've created your content, it's important to promote it to your target audience. Use social media, email marketing, and other tactics to get your content in front of as many people as possible.
- Analyze and adjust: As you run your inbound marketing campaigns, track and measure your results. This will allow you to see what's working and what's not and make adjustments to optimize your campaigns.
- Buyer personas: A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on market research and real data about your existing customers. Creating buyer personas helps you understand your target audience and create content and campaigns that are relevant and appealing to them.
- Content creation: Inbound marketing relies on creating valuable, informative content that your audience will find useful and interesting. This can include blog posts, ebooks, infographics, videos, webinars, and more.
- Search engine optimization (SEO): SEO is the process of optimizing your website and online content to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs). This can help increase the visibility of your website and drive more traffic to it.
- Social media marketing: Social media can be an effective way to promote your content, engage with your audience, and build your brand.
- Lead generation: Inbound marketing campaigns often involve tactics like lead magnets (like ebooks or webinars) and forms to help you generate leads and capture contact information from potential customers.
- Lead nurturing: Once you've generated leads, it's important to nurture those leads and move them through the sales funnel. This can involve sending targeted emails, creating personalized content, and using automation tools to keep leads engaged.
- Conversion optimization: The goal of inbound marketing is to convert leads into customers. Conversion optimization involves testing and optimizing your website and marketing campaigns to increase the percentage of visitors who take a desired action (like filling out a form or making a purchase).
- Analytics and reporting: To measure the effectiveness of your inbound marketing efforts, it's important to track and analyze key metrics like website traffic, leads, and sales. Use analytics tools to track your progress and identify areas for improvement.
- Website traffic: Track the number of visitors to your website and the sources of that traffic (like search engines, social media, or referral traffic).
- Leads: Monitor the number of leads you generate through your inbound marketing campaigns and track how those leads progress through the sales funnel.
- Sales: Track the number of sales generated through your inbound marketing efforts, and calculate your return on investment (ROI).
- Engagement: Monitor metrics like page views, time on page, and bounce rate to see how engaged your audience is with your content.
- Conversion rates: Track the percentage of visitors who take a desired action (like filling out a form or making a purchase) on your website.
- Identify your target audience: The first step in creating compelling content is to know whom you are trying to reach. Identify your target audience and understand their needs, goals, and challenges. This will help you create content that resonates with them.
- Determine your content goals: What do you want to achieve with your content? Do you want to generate leads, drive website traffic, or boost sales? Setting clear goals will help you focus your efforts and create content that meets those goals.
- Choose the right format: Different types of content are better suited for different goals. For example, a blog post may be a good choice to drive traffic and engage your audience, while an ebook might be better if you want to generate leads.
Use compelling headlines: The headline is the first thing your audience will see, so it's important to make it compelling and interesting. Use powerful action verbs and include numbers or statistics to make your headline stand out.
- Tell a story: People are likelier to engage with content that tells a story or paints a picture. Use storytelling techniques to make your content more compelling and memorable.
- Use images and visuals: Including them in your content can make it more interesting and easier to understand. Use high-quality images and graphics to enhance your content and make it more engaging.
- Optimize for search engines: Make sure your content is optimized for search engines by including relevant keywords and phrases and using proper formatting and structure.
- Edit and proofread: Before you publish your content, be sure to edit and proofread it to ensure it is free of errors and easy to read.
- Promote your content: Share your blog posts, ebooks, infographics, and other content on social media to get it in front of a larger audience.
- You can engage with your audience: You can use social media to interact with your followers and answer their questions. This helps build trust and credibility with your audience and can increase brand loyalty.
- Run social media ads: Use social media advertising to reach a larger audience and drive traffic to your website.
- Use social media to gather customer feedback: Use social media to gather customer feedback and ideas, and use that feedback to improve your products or services.
- Share industry news and updates: Use social media to share industry news and updates with your followers. This helps position your brand as a thought leader and can help you build credibility in your field.
Host social media giveaways: Run social media giveaways or contests to increase engagement and drive traffic to your website.
- Monitor and track your social media efforts: Use tools to track the performance of your social media efforts and understand what's working and what's not.
- Make it mobile-friendly: With more and more people accessing the internet from their smartphones and tablets, it's important to ensure your website is mobile-friendly. This means it should be easy to navigate and read on smaller screens.
- Use relevant, keyword-rich content: Use relevant, keyword-rich content on your website to help improve your search engine rankings and make it easier for potential customers to find you.
- Use compelling calls to action: Include calls to action on your website to encourage visitors to take the next step (like filling out a form or making a purchase). Make sure your calls to action are clear and compelling.
- Include social media sharing buttons: Make it easy for visitors to share your content on social media by including social media sharing buttons on your website.
- Effective website design: You can use effective website design to make your website visually appealing and easy to navigate. This can help improve the user experience and increase the chances of visitors taking action on your site.
- Optimize for speed: Make sure your website loads quickly, as slow loading times can be a turn-off for visitors. Use tools like Google's PageSpeed Insights to identify ways to improve your website's loading speed.
- Use analytics to track performance: Use tools like Google Analytics to track the performance of your website and understand how visitors interact with it. This will help you identify areas for improvement.
- Use email newsletters to keep your audience updated: Use email newsletters to keep your audience informed about your business, new products or services, and other updates.
- Use segmentation to send targeted emails: Use email segmentation to send targeted emails to different segments of your audience based on factors like their location, interests, or behavior. This can help increase the relevance and effectiveness of your emails.
- Personalize your emails: Use personalization techniques like using the recipient's name in the subject line or body to make your emails more engaging and effective.
- Use a clear and compelling subject line: The subject line is the first thing your audience will see, so it's important to make it clear and compelling. Use action verbs and include numbers or statistics to make your subject line stand out.
- Use a clear and compelling call to action: Make sure your emails include a clear call to action that tells your audience what you want them to do next (like visit your website or make a purchase).
- Optimize for mobile: With more and more people accessing their emails from their smartphones, it's important to ensure your emails are optimized for mobile devices.
- Track and analyze your email marketing efforts: Use tools to track the performance of your email marketing efforts and understand what's working and what's not. This will help you optimize your campaigns and improve their effectiveness.