What is Inbound Marketing?
This is inbound marketing.
You found this article, perhaps because you were searching for information about inbound marketing, or maybe you clicked on a link shared on social media. That’s inbound marketing at work.
We planned this blog post in our content marketing calendar, hoped you would find it, like it, think it’s helpful solving a problem you have, and that we could connect somehow and start a relationship.
Where will this relationship lead us? It’s too soon to tell. We’ll see.
Now, let’s quote a definition from the company who coined the term inbound marketing, Hubspot: "Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t want, inbound marketing forms connections they’re looking for and solves problems they already have."
So, here we are, attracting you as a reader with inbound marketing. This time it was a blog, but we could have used a video, a podcast, a webinar, an infographic, a case study or testimonial, an ebook or a whitepaper.
And since you’re doing research about inbound marketing, perhaps you’re considering doing it as well. That’s a great idea, because inbound marketing has lots of benefits.
For instance, inbound marketing will increase your brand’s awareness and position you as a trusted source of information in your industry, which will influence future purchases. Inbound marketing usually generates qualified leads for less money than outbound or traditional marketing.
Sounds good, right? Let’s dive deeper then.
The Inbound Marketing Process
The beauty of inbound marketing lies in its simplicity. Just three steps to master (although easier said than done). Attract, engage and delight. That’s it.
# 1 - Attract
First, you attract people to your website offering valuable content such as a blog post or a helpful guide like the one we offer at the bottom of this post.
Attracting visitors to your site involves using Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques for people to find you, as well as a social media strategy to reach your prospects.
To get started, identify your buyer persona (your target audience) and craft some compelling content just for them.
Think about the story you’re going to tell — start with why you do what you do, then tell them how you solve their problems, and end with what you offer. After, define the platforms you’ll use to deliver your content, be it your own blog, YouTube, Instagram or any other available channel. Finally create and follow a content calendar.
# 2 - Engage
Remember that inbound is about pulling customers toward you and not pushing a product towards them. That means you wait for them to take an action instead of taking the initiative to pitch them directly.
What kind of action? Fill out a form, chat on your website, download an ebook, and so on.
Once they’ve taken an action, they become leads, and you have permission to engage with them. Your response must be fast, within 5 minutes of their inquiry, and targeted to the actions they’ve taken. For instance, if they downloaded an ebook, send them an email with the ebook link, not a generic promotion.
The tools and channels you can use to engage with your leads include:
- Lead management. Once you start capturing leads, you must organize all that contact information into a CRM or lead management software so you can track their actions, qualify them and engage with them until they’re ready for the sales team.
- Email marketing. Emails can be outbound (like blast emails to a purchased list) or inbound (emails only to people who opt-in). For your inbound marketing strategy, you can send a newsletter to your customers or an email series to your leads following-up on their previous actions.
- Marketing automation. Both of the above can benefit from marketing automation. Once you have mapped out your buyer’s journey, you can create email workflows to engage with your prospects according to their needs and position in their individual journeys. You can also automate marketing analytics and social media monitoring.
- Live chat and conversational bots. Live chat on your website is one of the best ways to engage with your prospects in real time, while they’re looking for answers. The advantage of live chat is that you can tailor it to the actual page your visitors are on, be it a pricing page or the FAQs page. Furthermore, conversational bots can help you in two ways, either by pre-qualifying leads with targeted questions or by being available to respond off-hours, when there are no humans around.
- Text messages. SMS has a 90% open rate, a dream come true for marketers. So, if you get permission to send text messages to your prospects, you can engage with them sending valuable content to their phones.
Prospects may also engage with your organization via phone (it could be a follow-up call from your team or a call initiated by them). Your inbound marketing strategy must take into account those phone interactions, ensuring that the team members talking on the phone focus on solution selling more than product selling, always providing value.
# 3 - Delight
At this stage your prospects are customers already and your job is to ensure they are happy, satisfied and supported in the future.
Here, your team will focus on customer success, providing education, recommendations and world-class service.
Always be ready to listen, serve and follow-up.
Customers will always feel delighted when they feel served and supported. You can use chatbots, search optimized knowledge base, and even social media. Encourage customers to ask questions and give feedback or testimonials about your products and services. If you respond promptly with great information, they will feel delighted.
Delighted customers can become raving fans who promote your business and share your content, expanding the reach of your inbound marketing strategy.
Measure and analyze
We suggest that you conduct a weekly analysis of your inbound marketing strategy.
Use web analytics software such as Google Analytics, which captures information about your site's visitors, tracking their behavior and thus measuring the performance of your content.
Once you know which is your best performing content (and the worst), you’ll know what your buyer persona prefers and you can go deeper with similar content, solving your prospect’s actual needs.
The weekly analysis will also help you tweak your landing pages, your calls-to-action and forms.
Inbound marketing is a flexible and evolving process and you must learn to adapt to your customers’ needs, but it’s also a rewarding experience that will help your business grow.