Chances are if you're reading this, you are involved in some way with the marketing world – or, a least, have some kind of connection to it. And, because of that, chances are you've heard or come across the term inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing has been around for a long time, but it’s only in the last few years that it’s really picked up steam and been slapped with a name. It’s doing the rounds at the moment, which has left a lot of people wondering exactly what it is and how it can help their business.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Ask anyone to name a few traditional marketing methods, and you’ll likely get answers like TV ads, print ads, billboards, and cold calling.
These methods all have something in common: They're outbound marketing methods. They involve the marketer actively reaching out to consumers in the hopes that they can persuade them to buy through a pretty picture or a salesy phone call. All of the old-fashioned methods rely on us pushing our message out, whereas inbound marketing does the opposite. It’s the act of creating content that draws consumers in and brings them to us.
This isn’t to say that outbound marketing is dead and in the gutter – far from it, in fact. Traditional methods are still going strong and inbound isn’t an attempt to replace TV ads, print marketing, and cold calling. Instead, it serves to enhance and supplement the old ways of marketing to create a whole new landscape of customer acquisition.
The Subtlety of Inbound Marketing
These days, consumers are more active in the buying cycle than ever before. They are sceptical of pushy marketers and have a hard time believing glaringly obvious sales messages. This is why inbound marketing is becoming so important. It works to attract the attention of prospects via high-quality, informative content and stirs up interest in your brand before they are even ready to buy.
Let’s face it: For most businesses, lead generation and getting new customers is the name of the game. Every activity is geared towards this end goal, but what happens when you start getting leads? Does the journey end there? Definitely not. This is where inbound marketing swoops in to save the day. The strategies that make up the process funnel leads into customers and then turn customers into loyal fans who promote your brand without you even having to utter a word to them.
It’s subtle, but it’s powerful.
The Four Stages of Inbound Marketing
Because the inbound marketing model works on this idea of organically funnelling leads from one stage of the buying cycle to the next, we can separate it up into four key stages:
The first step of the process is attracting customers (without consumer eyeballs on your stuff you have no one to market to). During this part, prospects are served up juicy, relevant content in the right place at the right time, usually through some epic search engine optimisation (SEO), social media marketing, and content strategy.
Once you've got some consumers looking at your site (whether they found you through Google search, social media, or via another avenue), the next aim is to convert them into leads by getting their email address or other relevant contact information. During this part, you often see lead magnets (basically downloadable content) offered in return for that allimportant email address.
The next part is where the magic happens. This is when you swish your wand and turn leads into customers. And here, when we say “ swish your wand” , we're referring to lead nurturing, whether that’ s through email marketing, social media communication, or another form of contact.
A lot of businesses are so happy to get the customer that, after the purchase, the customer quickly becomes yesterday's news. Successful inbound marketers know that retaining customers is much more cost effective and profitable than attracting new ones. During this stage in the process, customers continue to be engaged with dynamic content, trigger marketing, and automation. You want to turn your customers from people who simply bought something from you to people that shout about your brand from the rooftops.
By aligning all of your inbound marketing activities around these four stages, you can quickly build trust and credibility, and add value at every single stage of your customer's journey.
Why You Need an Inbound Marketing Strategy
The thought of doing inbound marketing can be overwhelming and exhausting. It seems like there's so much more to do than just whack together a print ad and get it placed in a weekly magazine, right? Yes, it requires more than putting up an ad on the nearest billboard, but the benefits are well worth the effort. If you're not already sold, here are some of the rewards you can reap from this form of marketing.
People's Buying Habits Have Changed
Today's consumers are arguably smarter than they've ever been. They tend to blank out or ignore full-on marketing messages and instead strive to be in control of what they buy and who they buy from – which is precisely why they're turning to the internet. To serve them what they're looking for, you've got to offer relevant and high-quality content that educates and informs them. This builds your reputation as an expert and an authority in your industry which, in turn, will build trust and encourage people to buy from you.
Inbound is Cost-Effective
Budgets are at the back of every marketer's mind, which makes sense considering that strategies of the past have often cost hundreds or thousands of pounds (getting an ad on a billboard in a well-populated area isn’t cheap). But research has shown that marketers who use inbound strategies spend much less on getting leads than those who use outbound methods.
Higher Conversion Rates
Remember the ultimate aim of marketers is to turn website visitors into paying customers. This is true across the board, regardless of what industry you're in and what products you're selling. The people who find you online through inbound marketing methods are far more likely to be actively looking to buy a product or service than someone who just happens to flick past your magazine ad in a doctor's waiting room. The leads that come in through inbound strategies are much warmer than the ones you attract through blanket advertising (which means they're far easier to convert).
Build Awareness for Your Brand
To get visitors to turn into leads, people have to be aware of your brand in the first place. When you have tons of content, you have loads of collateral to share on social media. On top of that, the more fresh content you have, the more inbound links you’ll get which will boost your ranking on search engines. This is important, as Google is often the first place people carry out research online, and it’ s one of the main ways consumers find products and services to buy.
Now you know what Inbound Marketing is, it's time to see some examples and start thinking about your own campaign
We have put togther this guide that contains a little of the above, but much, much more.
- What you need to create an Inbound Marketing Campaign
- Examples of what other brands are doing
- The Inbound Marketing Funnel
- How to develop content
- How to do SEO, Social Media Marketing, Email Marketing, Automation
- And much more!