Across the world there are in excess of 1.9 billion websites and so far this year over 2 billion blog posts have been written. In just one second there are 71,408 Google searches, 76,769 YouTube videos viewed, 2,755,851 emails sent and 65,834GB of internet traffic across the world. It is little wonder that one of the biggest challenges facing digital marketers is to cut through the enormous amount of content online. Inbound marketing is a proven method of not only attracting visitors to your website, but also to generate leads for your business.
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is the strategy of attracting visitors and potential customers through various methods of communication, nurturing the relationship with ongoing brand, product and service messaging, with the ultimate aim of converting them to customers. The phrase “inbound marketing” was originally coined by marketing software provider, HubSpot, who define inbound marketing as –
Creating valuable experiences that have a positive impact on people and your business.
How do you do that? You attract prospects and customers to your website and blog through relevant and helpful content. Once they arrive, you engage with them using conversational tools like email and chat and by promising continued value.
And finally, you delight them by continuing to act as an empathetic advisor and expert.
Inbound marketing as a process
Over the years, the inbound marketing strategy continues to be reviewed and refined. One of the most common visual depictions of inbound marketing is the process of taking people on a journey from being a stranger to your brand through to a promoter. There are various stages along the journey, with each stage requiring different communications to suit your audience’s engagement and interest in your brand.
Inbound marketing is also seen to be a funnel – capturing a wide audience in the “attract” phase and narrowing this audience as they move towards the “close” stage.
Customer centricity and inbound marketing
Inbound Marketing is a customer centric marketing strategy. Inbound marketing campaigns are designed to attract the attention of your target audience in order to engage and develop a relationship with them. By focusing on the needs and interests of your target audience, inbound marketing provides the opportunity to give potential customers the information they are looking for – even if they don’t know it. By sharing creative and engaging content, digital marketers lay the framework for brands to build trust with their audience and recognized as a useful and reliable source of information. The ultimate goal of course being that the audience comes to you when the time to purchase arises.
Inbound marketing vs Outbound marketing
The name says it all – inbound marketing is the method of drawing potential customers in and earning attention, whilst outbound marketing is a business outwardly pushing their offering and typically involves buying attention.
Inbound marketing leverages both owned and earned media to engage prospects. Owned media refers to channels that a business has control over – social media profiles and a company’s website are prime examples. Earned media is coverage in newspapers, magazines, non-owned social media channels and such like. Businesses have considerably less control over earned media, but is often regarded as much more credible and trustworthy by unknown audiences.
Outbound marketing is typically associated with paid media – whether it be television advertising, billboards, pay-per-click advertising, social media advertising display advertising or paid emails. Paid media is also commonly used to boost the performance of an inbound marketing campaign.
Types of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing requires the use of multiple tactics to garner the best results – there is no single tactic that works well on its own. Blogging is by far the most common tactic used in inbound marketing and can be incredibly powerful when done effectively. But, without social media and search engine optimization, blogs don’t reach new and interested people (i.e. The “attract” phase). Search engine optimization only works in conjunction with content – whether it be articles, eBooks or page content – and is an integral part of inbound marketing. Social media in Australia attracts a massive audience with 15 million active users on Facebook each month and 15 million visitors to YouTube each month – and of course you also need to add in Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp and other social platforms!
Formulating your inbound marketing strategy
If you have read any of our blogs previously, you will know exactly what I’m about to say. It all starts with knowing your audience! Identifying who your audience is allows you to learn everything you can about them, understand their needs, and produce informative and engaging content to meet those needs. What is your brand’s unique story? Why is your content worth their time rather than someone else’s? Where does your audience spend their time – are they on Facebook or Instagram? Understanding this helps you to identify the best channels to invest in and develop content for.
Creating killer content is more about brains and commitment rather than budget
At Promark we typically break the process down into three core stages – Acquire, Retain, Grow – and at all stages we measure and optimize our campaigns to improve Return on Investment (ROI) .
Leverage marketing automation
Email automation requires up-front time and commitment, but the rewards you can reap will continue to grow. Emails can be used throughout the inbound marketing process from the “Convert” to “Delight” stages, and allows you to nurture and maintain relationships. Staying top of mind, delivering engaging and relevant content can all be done through email, including new blog posts, coupons, special offers, feature releases and more. Committing to an email platform with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration is absolutely vital – you need to have a “single source of truth”. By this we mean one central repository of customer information including their engagement level, interests, current contact details, purchase history and so on.
Measure and Optimise
Inbound Marketing is a continuous process of creating, sharing, and optimizing campaigns. Measuring the success of your inbound marketing efforts is vital and it all comes back to what your objectives are. There are a myriad of metrics within inbound marketing – from SEO rankings, website traffic, conversions, sales, inbound links, social engagement and more. To generate leads with inbound marketing, you need to continuously measure, review and optimise your campaigns. One of the most valuable metrics is organic traffic – that is, when someone has “googled” a phrase and have clicked through to your site. Setting clear objectives from the outset will help to demonstrate ROI and quantify your successes – and failures.
Inbound marketing is a powerful strategy that can be leveraged by all businesses to generate leads. As people are inundated with more and more information, creating engaging and relevant content that addresses their needs has never been more important. To generate leads with inbound marketing you need to have a disciplined approach to content creation and leveraging marketing automation. By doing so you can not only attract leads, but also optimize them for the best chance of conversion.