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What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is a method that businesses and brands use to create positive experiences that attract prospective customers to their website by creating, sharing and promoting valuable content. By doing this, customers begin to trust your brand and are motivated to engage with you, often leading to a loyal customer.

Once they interact with your brand, you continue to engage with them, providing relevant content throughout every step of the buyer’s journey via email, chat, blogs, and other mediums. For an inbound marketing campaign to be successful you must understand your ideal buyers, and provide them with relevant content to help them progress through your sales funnel.  At the core of it all is the premise of ‘being helpful’ to customers by providing content that is relevant to their purchasing and decision making needs.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is a more traditional method of marketing. Some of us might even call it “old-school” at this point. Outbound marketing is all about getting your message in front of as many people as possible and hoping it sticks with a few. Mass marketing through conventional mediums such as TV, newspaper, radio, trade shows, seminar series, email blasts and cold calling involve very high costs and typically yield a pretty slim ROI.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is all about generating leads from people who are already shopping around in your industry. Your website acts as a hub, with traffic being driven to it from search engines, blogs, videos, and social media campaigns. This way your leads are more qualified and likely to close, and by providing additional value and building trust throughout their entire experience, customers are motivated to remain loyal to you.

Inbound marketing strategy: discover the flywheel!

So, you’ve realised that you need to update your marketing methods to implement a cohesive inbound marketing strategy. How do you go about doing this? The Inbound methodology centres around the Hubspot Customer Flywheel, where the customer is at the core of your business.

flywheeel

This circular process is customer-centric and results in customers feeding your growth through advocacy. There are 3 key stages in the inbound buyer’s journey:

  1. Attract
  2. Engage
  3. Delight

We’ll break them down for you one by one.

Attract

You don’t want just anyone visiting your website; you want people that have buying potential and are the most likely to turn into satisfied, loyal customers. The trick to attracting these types of visitors is by providing relevant content to them when they need it most. Content strategy reigns supreme in inbound marketing. Blogs and videos should be published to the proper platforms, social networks should be used to distribute these and other pertinent information. Targeted ads create brand awareness to your target audience. And of course you need to track, report and analyse your efforts to constantly be improving your content marketing strategy.

Engage

Once you’ve got someone’s attention, it’s time to engage with them and help them progress through the buyer’s journey. By providing them with valuable information that addresses their needs and offers solutions, you’ve begun to establish trust and loyalty. Creating well-designed landing pages, CTA’s and capture forms allows you to obtain their contact information. Now you’ve turned them from a stranger into a prospect, and you have the ability to stay in touch with them.

Workflows, lead scoring and lead nurturing help you manage your prospect’s journey. Different types of people prefer different communication methods, so it’s important to have multiple channels set up to engage with them. These can include email, live chats, messaging apps, responsive social media pages and live bots. By establishing consistent interaction between you and your leads, you’ll always be there when the moment to close is right.

Delight

The inbound marketing method doesn’t end as soon as you’ve got the sale. The first 2 stages are designed to turn a stranger into a visitor, a visitor into a lead, and a lead into a customer. The next step is to delight your customer even more, which turns them into an advocate, or promoter for your business – the holy grail for marketing professionals. By creating smart content including email surveys and feedback forms, engaging and shareable social media campaigns, promotional offers, loyalty incentives and valuable videos, you make your customers feel special, and give them reasons to share their experience with their friends and families.

Inbound marketing agencies vs in-house marketing teams

When it comes time to implement an inbound marketing strategy, you basically have two options:

  1. Create an in-house inbound marketing team
  2. Hire an inbound marketing agency

Both options come with pros and cons. An in-house marketing team is able to give your brand 100% of their attention, and all of their efforts go towards marketing, reporting, analysing and re-strategising. However, a successful inbound marketing campaign requires many different team members. A content strategist, copywriter, graphic designer, web developer, social media manager, email marketer, SEM specialist and SEO analyst are key roles within an inbound team. While some companies have the means to make these hires, or already employ a number of these key players, most companies do not. That’s why hiring an inbound marketing agency is the best choice for most people. They have a dedicated team of specialists that have years of experience running campaigns in multiple industries. They have already built systems that are proven to work and can provide their services for a fraction of the cost of hiring an entire department.

Inbound is a modern, effective, customer-centric approach to marketing. As shoppers become more conscious and selective of where to spend their money, brands that place significance on empathy and work to provide value through every stage of the buyer’s will thrive.

This is a brief overview of what inbound marketing is, and the ways it can benefit your business, drive conversions and increase sales. If you’re ready to take your business to the next level, start by downloading our free eBook!