Inbound marketing is a form of marketing that aims to offer people what they’re looking for instead of interrupting them with unsolicited messages. Although the ultimate purpose of this advertising method is to generate sales and increase profits, the focus is not on the promoted products, but on the customers.
In traditional (outbound) marketing, companies push their sales messages out to clients through print ads, banners and TV ads, trade shows, press releases, cold calls, direct mail and telemarketing. This approach isn’t always profitable, as the target audience represents only a small portion of the reached audience.
Inbound marketing is a more focused strategy, which creates the context for delivering the right message to the right audience. In today’s article I’ll explain what is inbound marketing and how can it help you build online authority, drive more traffic to your website and convert visitors into loyal customers and brand advocates.
What is inbound marketing?
The easiest to understand inbound marketing definition is the one formulated by HubSpot, which describes this term as the process through which one creates and distributes content online, in order to be found by their prospective clients, convert them into customers and delight them over time with quality products and services.
Inbound marketing is, on the one hand, a process that consists of different activities meant to educate people, earn their trust and turn them into loyal customers; on the other hand, it’s the process through which brands build valuable content and customized solutions that answer clients’ needs in order to establish themselves as leaders and increase their online visibility.
The main types of activities incorporated into inbound marketing campaigns include:
- Creating content that is relevant for your business and of interest for potential clients;
- Distributing the content to attract visitors to your website;
- Converting the visitors into leads by gathering their contact data;
- Nurturing the leads with persuasive content for transforming them into customers;
- Retaining customers and turning them into brand advocates by providing valuable content and listening to clients’ feedback.
Each of these activities has a specific business goal, and by grouping them according to their goal we obtain the inbound marketing methodology, which consists in four marketing actions:
Inbound marketing methodology by www.hwproduction.com
The components of inbound marketing
1. Attracting visitors
Your ultimate goal is to sale, but in order to sale you need people interested in your products and services. This means that you need to attract the right audience on your website. But in order to attract these people and drive targeted traffic, you need to know who your ideal customers are.
So the first step in attracting visitors is developing the customer profiles, or buyer personas. These profiles encompass the pain-points of your ideal clients, their needs, goals and expectations. Once you know who will buy your products, you can move on to step 2, which consists in educating these people and letting them know about your products.
The easiest way to do this is by creating content that is highly relevant for your target audience, and that addresses their specific needs. Your most valuable resources here are blogging, SEO and social media:
- The rich and informative content you post on your blog needs to be optimized for search engines, so as to make it easy for prospective clients to come across it when Googling their questions;
- Once you have great content, you can focus on off-site SEO to improve your online presence and rank higher for the targeted keywords;
- At the same time, you should share your content on social media networks, so as to interact with potential prospects in real time and in a friendlier manner.
2. Converting prospects to leads
Visitors are strangers, so if you want them to buy form you, you need to earn their trust, show them that you are an expert able to answer their questions, and that your products can solve their problems. But you don’t want to push your message out to them in an aggressive manner, so you need to obtain your prospects’ permission for staying in touch and delivering content on a continuous basis.
This is done by collecting their email addresses, and the easiest way to convince your visitors to give you their contact information is to offer them something valuable in exchange, such as an e-book, whitepaper, guide, video tutorial and so on. Each of these lead-generating offers will be strategically placed on a landing page designed to convert. For optimal visitor-to-lead conversion, your landing pages need great copy and powerful CTAs (call to action).
3. Closing the sales
Now that you have a database of potential customers, it’s time to nurture the leads with drip campaigns tailored to their unique needs. A series of emails with relevant and useful content that help the potential customer trust you more and understand you products better can make them click the “Buy now” button. To make the process as smooth as possible you can use marketing automation and feed the customers with content that reflects only those aspects of your business that they are interested in.
If a client arrives on my website and shows interest in Content development services, I will not send him marketing email talking about SEO, but about writing articles, creating graphics and so on. A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system can help you keep track of your customers’ details and interests, allowing you to push the sales message only when the client is ready to make the buying decision. The purpose of this third step is to shorten the sale process by relying on the information and knowledge your qualified leads already have.
4. Delighting the customers
Finally, inbound marketing involves delighting and engaging your clients with quality content, listening to their wants and needs, engaging in conversations and keeping track of comments, mentions and likes, as well as reaching out your customers with relevant content that introduces new features they might be interested in. In this fourth step you may use surveys, smart CTAs and social monitoring tools.
Your clients are important for you not only because they bought something from your company, but because they can turn into brand advocates. To facilitate this process you have to focus on creating remarkable content and products for them on a continuous basis, and to continue paying attention to your clients after closing a deal. Offer them exclusive tools and assistance and they will reward you with referrals and brand awareness.
Hopefully now you’re more familiar with inbound marketing and understand the purpose and the steps of this process better. If you have any comments, feel free to post them below, and if you need assistance, don’t hesitate to use the Contact page!