What is Inbound Marketing?Posted by Ryan Jones on Oct 25, 2018. Reading time: 8 mins
With the rise of smartphones, “conventional” marketing agencies sales tactics, such as cold calls and email blasts, are no longer the best way to convert leads into customers. Instead, smart companies are focusing on inbound marketing. This technique, popularised by HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan, aims to draw customers to your product or services via inbound efforts such as content digital marketing, social media and SEO tactics.
Though Halligan certainly helped evangelise inbound marketing tactics, it is worth pointing out that inbound marketing is essentially synonymous with “permission marketing,” a phrase coined by Seth Godin in his 1999 book of the same title. According to Godin, the best way to earn a customer’s attention is by treating them with respect. Inbound marketing follows the same method. Instead of traditional marketing, forcing paid advertisements onto customers, inbound marketing focuses on an improved customer experience by building trust and offering customers valuable information.
Shift to Inbound Marketing
Now that the power of Google is available, in nearly everyone's pockets, customers are more critical of companies than ever before. They can get all the information they need about your company, including reviews, prices and product information, without ever having to leave the comfort of their couch. If your company is not completely transparent about your goods and services, customers will find out through platforms such as Google and Yelp.
This is why outbound marketing is no longer the best way to attract customers. Before the age of the internet, salespeople had all the power as customers had to rely on the salesperson to gain knowledge about the product. Now, a quick search online can unveil virtually all the information there is to know about your products, your services and your company.
Inbound marketing is a method of attracting, engaging and delighting customers through trust. By creating helpful and enticing content, marketers are able to naturally attract customers to their websites. Instead of relying on reviews, customers rely on their interaction with your company to create a positive and memorable experience. Inbound methodology is all about adding value at every stage of your customer’s journey, while also growing your business.
Inbound Marketing Methodology
As stated previously, there are three main stages of inbound marketing: attracting prospects to your company, engaging with them and delighting them individually. This methodology acts like a circle. Each stage leads directly into the next. When properly executed, it can quickly grow your base, because satisfied customers will bring new people into your network.
Inbound marketing relies on attracting the right people to your website. You want to attract people who are most likely to become quality leads and happy customers. To attract the right people, you need to create relevant content. This content should have value to your potential customers and can utilise a variety of different formats. You can use traditional tools, such as advertisements, or you can use more creative means, such as videos, podcasts, blogs, and social media. For example, if you run a bicycle company you can write a blog about the best biking trails in your town. The people who are most likely to find this blog are people who love to bike. This blog doesn’t necessarily promote your own product, but it gives the customer relevant information. By providing that helpful material you are building trust with the customer.
When creating advertisements, blogs, and social media posts, you must ensure these tools are SEO friendly. Before you write an advertisement or create a blog, you should make a list of 10 to 15 short words that are associated with your product or service. Then, you should use these keywords to build your attractive content. By utilising SEO tactics customers will be able to find your posts during a simple Google search. Let’s go back to the bicycle example. By featuring SEO terms in your blog, your website will appear when someone in your area searches for “best biking trails”. Since this customer is searching for biking trails, we can assume they enjoying biking. By creating this lead generation, sending them to your website via SEO, you are attracting a quality lead. Once you have attracted them, you need to keep the potential customer engaged.
The second part of the inbound marketing methodology is engaging customers. Once a qualified lead has reached your landing page, you need to use conversations to create a long term relationship with your prospect. This can be through a variety of engaging tools, including email, bots or live chat.
Bots and live chat are the fastest ways to engage customers. These tools are typically embedded into your website. So, if a customer is on your website reading a blog or searching through products, a bot or live representative can ask the customer if they need help. This allows customers to get questions answered right away. All the information from the chats can be stored and used again later to build a customer profile.
Conversion tools, like calls to action, email forms and lead flows, can also be used during the engagement process. These tools gather customer information so you can personalise their experience. For example, if you run a shoe company, and a customer fills out an email form saying they are interested in high heels, you can send them specific emails about deals high heels. This personalised experience for the customer makes them feel valued by your company. Furthermore, by personalising emails and advertisements to the customer’s interest, they are more likely to purchase your products.
Once you have attracted and engaged a customer you have to keep them satisfied with your company and the overall user experience you are providing. During the engagement phase of this process you should have learned a lot of useful information about the customer. You can use this information to keep them delighted. You can use email and marketing automation to deliver useful information to customers. For example, if you own a hardware store and a customer just bought a new toolkit, you can send them links to blog posts about DIY home improvement projects. Furthermore, you can send them discounts on complementary equipment, such as nails and screws. By anticipating and meeting the customer’s needs you can ensure that they will trust and enjoy working with your company.
The Cycle Repeats Itself
Inbound marketing is extremely important because it creates momentum for your company. Once you have attracted, engaged and delighted a customer, the process doesn’t just end there. That happy customer will tell their friends about the great experience they had with your company. That will attract another quality lead to your website and the cycle will repeat itself. As long as you are successfully building trust with these leads, your company will continue to grow, thrive and attract new customers. HubSpot call this the flywheel, their replacement for the funnel model.
With outbound marketing you are attracting just one customer at a time. Inbound marketing is different. The content you create will not just fade away. As you create more inbound content, it will compound and add value to previous and future content. Plus the more SEO friendly content you create, the more likely you are to be seen on search engines.
The experts at Refuel Creative can help you achieve this goal. Our expert marketers are an extension of your management team, providing your company with strategic marketing and technology advice. We help bring in new customers while providing complete transparency of your return on investment. For more info on developing and implementing an inbound marketing strategy, visit Refuel Creative online today!