Inbound Marketing

Want to drive more leads to your business?

With inbound marketing, brands attract prospects by creating valuable, relevant content and meaningful experiences that anticipate customer needs and pain points. Unfamiliar with the concept? Don’t worry — we got you.

In this comprehensive inbound marketing guide, we’ll explain what it is, what benefits this approach offers to businesses, and how it differs from traditional outbound tactics. We’ll also walk through the steps of the inbound marketing methodology and share our top three favorite inbound marketing tactics.

First thing's first.

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is a business and sales methodology that focuses on drawing customers in (rather than reaching out to them) with high-quality, useful content that is tailored to be relevant to a specific audience. This approach typically involves a combination of tactics, including search engine optimization, social media marketing, and email marketing.

At its core, inbound marketing is about creating connections and building lasting relationships with your existing and prospective customers by anticipating and fulfilling their needs and wants. The goal is to answer questions and help the consumer through their existing reality rather than creating an entirely new one.

What are the benefits of inbound marketing?

Any business that wants to grow should focus a significant portion of their marketing dollars to inbound efforts. The benefits are undeniable:

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Builds trust and credibility

Your customers want to make their own decisions and don’t want to be told what they should do, especially not by brands. So when you leave your customers to find you organically in the places they already hang out, both online and offline, they’re more likely to feel empowered and engage out of their own.

Helpful content is crucial in building trust, and social proof will assist with brand credibility.

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Easier to track and scale

With inbound marketing, you have the ability to track your ROI easily and learn from the success or failure of previous marketing campaigns and efforts.

Being able to track your ROI allows you to make informed decisions about the direction of your strategy.

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Better leads, stronger ROI

Traditional marketing has always been expensive, and it isn’t easy to measure their effectiveness. In this digital age, inbound marketing is not only more effective at converting customers — it also offers better ROI.

By creating inbound marketing content specifically geared toward audiences that you know will find value in your product or services, you will attract higher-quality traffic and leads.

The difference between inbound and outbound marketing

One of the best ways to wrap your head around the concept of inbound marketing is to learn how it differs from outbound marketing.

What is outbound marketing?

Outbound marketing involves pushing a marketing message out to a broad audience in the hopes that it will appeal to the various people who will encounter it. This methodology differs greatly from inbound marketing’s focus on creating marketing messages that are tailored to a specific target audience.

Examples of outbound marketing include many traditional sales and advertising tactics, like cold emails, print advertisements, TV and radio commercials, trade shows, and cold calls.

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The challenges of outbound marketing

Outbound tactics have value and can definitely bring in new customers for companies in many industries, but they are typically high-cost and low-yield. Outbound marketing can also be challenging to track from an ROI perspective.

Due to the “in your face” nature of many outbound marketing tactics, many consumers have grown averse or even desensitized to these approaches. In a world where people are more connected than ever, there is nothing worse than unwanted communication. Today’s consumers want more out of their buyer journey — they want to get to know your brand, do research on your product/service, hear your other customers’ experiences, and most importantly, discover why it is the product for them.

To give consumers what they want, more brands are turning to inbound marketing tactics to draw their ideal customers in, rather than chase them.

The bottom line is that consumers want real connections and need to feel that they are heard, seen, and valued.

How inbound is changing outbound

It’s clear that traditional outbound marketing has weaknesses in today’s digital marketplace, but that doesn’t mean it’s a completely dead methodology. If anything, outbound marketing is evolving along with the meteoric rise of inbound marketing.

In recent years, there have been exciting new developments in digital marketing that involve taking the strengths of inbound marketing — ROI tracking, audience targeting, and cost-effectiveness — and applying them to outbound methodology. Two examples of this include tactics like cold email lead generation and pay-per-click advertising.

Brands that understand the importance of a well-rounded digital strategy involving both inbound and outbound tactics are well-positioned to compete in their industries.

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The inbound marketing methodology

Now that you know what inbound marketing is, how it differs from outbound marketing, and the benefits it offers, let’s break down the basic steps of any inbound marketing strategy.

Step one: Attract

First off, you have to put in the work to attract your ideal customer. How? Creating compelling content and implementing strategies that will cause your brand to show up in search results and social media feeds. Blog articles, videos, social media posts, and targeted ads are examples of inbound marketing content designed to attract customers.

Step two: Engage

Once your content has attracted the desired audience to your site, it’s your job to engage and convert them by articulating how your product or service helps customers meet their goals or solve their pain points.

Conversions can occur through simple contact forms, thoughtful lead flows, newsletter sign-ups, lead magnets or special deals, engaging yet unobtrusive calls-to-actions, or even chatbots. Conversions depend on your goals. For example, a conversion for a B2B business might be a prospective customer filling out a “Request a Quote” form, while a conversion for an ecommerce store would simply be when a customer makes a purchase online.

Step three: Delight

The work isn’t over once you’ve converted the prospect into a customer. It’s now your job to satisfy and delight them to retain their loyalty. Email marketing, social media listening, surveys, tutorials, and other content resources are all excellent examples of inbound marketing designed to help customers meet their needs and answer their questions.

3 of the most successful inbound marketing tactics

There are several inbound marketing strategies that have proven to work, and these are our favorites.

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1. Persona targeting strategy

The beginning of any worthwhile inbound marketing campaign or strategy has to define the target audience persona. How? There are various resources at your disposal for gaining insight into your ideal customer’s behavior and interests. These include:

  • Reviewing Facebook page insights: Age, gender, and location aren’t necessarily that important, but they can lead to other noteworthy insights. You can find these by looking at the ‘Insights’ tab on your business’ existing Facebook page. Here you’ll find the necessary information about who is already engaging with your business online.
  • Surveying your current customers and leads: Surveys don’t have to be elaborate or time-consuming to be effective. Creating a survey with free online survey software like SurveyMonkey, Survey Sparrow, or a form from Google Workspaces and sending it to your email database is a simple way to gain insight into your client’s demographics.
  • Conduct one-on-one interviews: Once you’ve done some groundwork to gaining audience insights, it may be worth your while to select a few individuals and conduct interviews for more in-depth detail. Who should you interview? Start by taking a look at who your current clients are and select similar individuals.
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2. Content creation

Once you’ve conducted sufficient research and built out your targeted persona(s), you should have a good idea of where they hang out online and the kinds of content they’re most likely to engage with. Effective inbound marketing strategies often make use of a combination of these forms of content marketing.

  • Blog articles: Even if you’re new to content production or the internet itself, you probably already know that a quality blog is one of the most effective ways to market your business online. Blogging does several things: it attracts new visitors to your website, it positions your business as qualified and experienced in its industry, and you can use it to keep your existing audience informed about the goings-on of your business.
  • Email marketing: If you have a business, you have clients. And if you have clients, you have a database of client email addresses that you can use for such campaigns. Email marketing is a strategy of sending commercial messages and promotional material directly to a group of people who have previously, willfully engaged with your business online. This strategy is designed to capture the attention of your audience and convert them.
  • Social media: Everyone who’s anyone is on at least one social media platform, and you should be too. But with such an overwhelming amount of content around, it’s not good enough to just post anything, your content has to be remarkable, engaging, and share-worthy. Creating high-quality content isn’t the only piece of the puzzle — you have to get your content seen by the right people. This means sharing it on the platforms your audience chooses to hang out on.
  • Influencer campaigns: One of the most effective inbound marketing strategies that have developed over the five years is what’s known as influencer marketing. Influencers are the self-made “celebrities” of digital platforms and more specifically social media. How can you use their status to sell your business? By partnering with an influencer loved by your preferred target audience, your business can gain social proof that it is as good as you say it is. Influencer marketing is the word-of-mouth and endorsement element of inbound marketing campaigns.
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3. Implement an SEO strategy

When using the internet to sell anything that your business does, it is always advisable to put a concerted effort into your SEO strategy. Why? Content and websites that are optimized for search engines like Google outperform those that aren’t by a mile. SEO that’s done right is the simplest way to ensure that your online efforts are actually discoverable and seen by your audience.

Inbound marketing glossary

A/B testing

A/B testing, or split testing, is the comparison of variations of ads or content against one another to determine overall effectiveness.

Algorithm

The general name for the set of rules to follow in problem-solving operations. In the digital world, the term algorithm represents the method search engines use to determine search results.

Analytics

The collection of meaningful data about performance to recognize and act on data patterns.

Blog

A blog is a form of publishing on the web, generally of greater length and depth than a typical post on a social media platform.

Bounce rate

This is the percentage of visitors that leave your website without navigating through the links available. Regarding emails, the bounce rate measures the number of emails delivered to the recipients’ list.

Buyer persona

This is the figurative representation of your ideal customer, created based on market research.

Call-to-action

A conclusive question that directs the customer or audience member’s next steps. Call-to-actions are crucial in securing new leads.

Case study

A case study is an actual example of something that happened and can provide information or insight to a similar situation.

Content marketing

A fundamental aspect of inbound marketing. Content marketing involves producing high-quality original content such as blog articles, guides, and whitepapers that intrigue your audience and generate new leads.

Conversion

A conversion is when a visitor to your website performs certain interactions, such as signing up for a newsletter, filling out a contact form, or purchasing a product.

Conversion rate

This term represents the percentage of website visitors who have completed a call-to-action and are likely to become secured leads.

Conversion rate optimization

Conversion rate optimization is the strategy of obtaining more conversions relative to the percentage of visitors.

Engagement rate

The number of likes, comments, and shares your social media content is producing.

Evergreen content

The term for content that retains its value and appeal over time without becoming outdated or irrelevant. Evergreen content is of high SEO value.

Exit rate

Unlike bounce rate, exit rate includes website visitors who clicked through the site a bit before exiting.

Followed link

The term for when your content’s link is a feature on another webpage. This allows you to reap SEO benefits from a separate business.

Inbound links

Much like a followed link, inbound links are when visitors are directed to your content via another website.

Landing page

A landing page is the page a user arrives to after clicking on an advertisement or a link within a search engine results page.

Lead generation

The process of converting potential customers into captured leads.

Pay-per-click (PPC)

Refers to the amount of money spent to get people to click on your digital advertisement.

Qualified lead

A customer that is already far along the buyer’s journey and at this point is likely to commit to choosing your brand.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is the process of enhancing a website and its content to rank for certain keywords on search engines like Google.

User experience (UX)

Refers to what your website’s visitors or potential customers will encounter when engaging with your brand throughout the buyer’s journey.

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