Although inbound marketing is not a new term, there are still companies who don’t fully understand the concept of inbound and how it can help them in growing and establishing a profitable business.
Over the past 7 years that Spiralytics has served clients from across the globe, we find that people often specifically look for companies that provide “content marketing, “SEO“, and “lead generation” services when what they really need is an integrated inbound marketing campaign.
This should be a concern since incorporating inbound marketing into your overall strategy can reap significant rewards for your B2B company. Take a look at some statistics on inbound marketing:
- 75% of companies with an inbound marketing strategy believe it’s working for them. (HubSpot)
- 53% of marketers believe inbound marketing yield higher ROI. (FinancesOnline)
- Marketers use inbound marketing to achieve their goals in growing their organic presence (61%), creating blog content (55%), and automating marketing (50%). (HubSpot State of Inbound, 2018)
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is a customer-centric approach focusing on attracting and engaging potential leads through valuable content rather than interruptive advertising techniques. The concept is very similar to permission marketing, a term that first came out on Seth Godin’s book Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers, published in 1999.
Although the concept of attracting website traffic and converting this traffic to paying customers through valuable and informative content has been around for decades, the introduction of inbound marketing forms an actual foundation for the concept.
Since then, inbound marketing has become a multi-million dollar industry, sprouting discussion groups and online communities, and changing the way marketers do content marketing and SEO over the past decade.
Inbound and outbound marketing are two distinct approaches businesses use to reach their target audience and promote their products or services. While they share the same purpose, they differ in execution.
Inbound marketing aims to pull audiences towards your brand by providing relevant content and building trust-based relationships. The goal of inbound marketing is to nurture these audiences into paying customers by providing content that is specifically-catered to where they are in the buying decision process.
On the other hand, outbound marketing employs traditional advertising, cold calling, and direct mail to push messages out to a broader audience. Often, these methods are seen as interruptive to one’s daily life by most audiences.
The critical difference lies in the approach: inbound marketing pulls customers in, while outbound marketing pushes messages out. Many are leaning more towards the former for several reasons, which we’ll discuss in another section shortly.
The inbound methodology works by strategically creating content in an effort to attract, engage, and delight customers to drive business growth. Let’s explain each stage in more detail to understand the method better.
Attract Strangers into Visitors
The first step is to attract strangers to your website or other online platforms through various inbound marketing tactics. Your goal in this stage is to provide content that addresses a need or resolves a challenge, helping you capture their attention and turn them into visitors.
Convert Visitors into Leads
Once visitors are on your website, the next step is to convert them into leads by offering value in exchange for th eir contact information. You can achieve this through lead magnets, landing pages, forms, and call-to-actions (CTAs). The collected data allows you to follow up and nurture these leads effectively.
Close Leads to Make Them Customers
With leads in your pipeline, engaging and nurturing them to move them closer to becoming customers is your next priority. The process involves personalized communication and delivering targeted content addressing their issues. In this stage, you employ methods to build trust and demonstrate value, ultimately persuading them to purchase.
Delight Customers to Make Them Promoters
The inbound methodology doesn’t end at the point of sale. To create long-lasting customer relationships, continuing to provide exceptional post-purchase experiences is crucial. It can include providing personalized recommendations, loyalty programs or engaging with them through social media or exclusive content.
Satisfied customers are more likely to become brand promoters. These promoters are more likely to refer your business to their friends or associates, andgenerate positive word-of-mouth for your brand.
Also Read: Inbound Marketing: The Role of Paid Search
An effective inbound marketing strategy involves various crucial elements contributing to its success. Let’s tackle all of them to help you develop the best inbound marketing strategies possible.
1. Inbound Marketing Objective
The inbound marketing objective is your marketing activities’ overarching goal or purpose. It outlines what your organization aims to achieve through its inbound marketing efforts, such as increasing brand awareness, generating qualified leads, driving website traffic, and more.
Your objectives act as a guide regarding the development and execution of the entire inbound marketing strategy.
2. Audience Persona
Alternatively called a buyer persona, it is a fictional representation of the ideal target audience for your product or service. It’s based on market research and data about the target customers’ characteristics, preferences, and other categories.
Creating audience personas helps you understand your target audience, allowing you to tailor your message and content to resonate with your ideal customers’ needs and interests.
3. Conversion Funnel
Otherwise known as a sales funnel, this component represents the inbound marketing customer journey from initial awareness to the final conversion or purchase. It is a step-by-step process that guides your prospects through various stages, from awareness to consideration to finally reaching the decision stage.
Understanding the conversion funnel helps you identify opportunities for optimizing and improving the inbound marketing flywheel at each stage.
4. Content Strategy
Content strategy is a plan of action that outlines content creation, distribution, and management to attract and engage your chosen audience. It involves identifying the most relevant content, determining the appropriate channels for distribution, and establishing a consistent brand voice and messaging.
A well-defined content strategy helps deliver the right content to the target audience at the right time, aligning with your overall inbound marketing objectives.
5. Lead Nurturing Strategy
Lead nurturing is building relationships with potential customers and guiding them through the conversion funnel. A lead nurturing strategy involves delivering personalized and relevant content to prospects at different stages of the buyer’s journey.
This component aims to keep your leads engaged, address their concerns, and provide valuable information to convert them into customers. For this component to be effective, it will require you to understand the needs and preferences of leads, subsequently providing them with targeted content and experiences.
6. Influencer Outreach Strategy
An influencer outreach strategy involves identifying and engaging with famous individuals or thought leaders in a particular industry or niche. These influencers typically have a significant social media or internet following and can impact their audience’s purchasing decisions.
Collaborating with influencers allows your business to leverage their credibility and reach to expand your brand’s visibility, potentially gaining the attention of an untapped market.
7. Data Monitoring and Analysis
Data monitoring and analysis involve tracking and evaluating key metrics related to the performance of your inbound marketing efforts. This strategy includes monitoring website traffic, engagement levels, conversion rates, social media metrics, and other relevant data points.
Analyzing this data gives insights into your inbound marketing efforts’ effectiveness, helps you identify improvement areas, and could make a difference in data-driven decisions to optimize your strategies.
As mentioned, inbound marketing is more about allowing customers to find you naturally, which can only happen if your inbound plans include the following components:
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of practices executed to optimize your website’s visibility and organic search rankings in search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. It involves implementing various tactics to improve your website’s chances of being found by users actively searching for relevant offerings or information.
As an inbound marketing channel, SEO is vital in attracting organic, high-quality traffic to your website.
2. Paid Advertising
Paid advertising, in the context of inbound marketing, involves purchasing ads on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Since these ads are targeted and personalized, it won’t feel like “interrupting” your target personas because your ads are most likely what they need. Thus, content marketers regularly use paid ads to strategically distribute content.
3. Content Marketing
Content marketing is a tactic to attract and engage a target audience that involves creating and distributing valuable content consistently. The strategy’s primary goal is to drive profitable customer actions.
Here are some examples of popular and commonly used inbound marketing content types:
- Blogging involves creating engaging, valuable written content on a website or blogging platform. This content type helps your inbound marketing efforts by attracting organic traffic and encouraging engagement.
- Email Marketing helps with inbound marketing by nurturing leads, promoting offers or events, and driving traffic to the website or other marketing channels using an email campaign.
- Social media platforms allow you to promote content, engage with your audience, and build a community. These mediums help your inbound marketing efforts by increasing brand visibility, driving website traffic, fostering customer engagement, and helping amplify content reach through social sharing.
- eBooks and whitepapers are longer-form content pieces that provide in-depth insights and research on specific topics. These content types are often gated behind an opt-in form,, which means that they can be downloaded onlyin exchange for contact information, making them a valuable lead-generation tool.
- Videos and Webinars involve creating and sharing visual content through pre-recorded or live presentations. You can use it to dynamically and engagingly demonstrate products, provide tutorials, conduct interviews, or provide educational content.
- Podcasts are audio-based content programs that cover specific topics or themes. It’s a content medium that provides industry experts with a platform to deliver valuable insights, interviews, or discussions.
4. Social Media Marketing
Social media marketing involves using social networking platforms to promote your products, services, or content with your target demographic. It is essential to inbound marketing because it enables you to reach a wider audience by engaging with your customers directly.
Besides direct communication, social media marketing enables you to amplify your brand’s visibility, foster engagement, and create a sense of community, helping your business achieve goals.
5. Landing Pages
A landing page is designed to capture visitors’ attention and encourage them to take a specific action, such as filling out a form, purchasing a product, or downloading content. As the name suggests, it is the destination where visitors “land” after clicking on a CTA or an advertisement and helps them gain more information about your offerings.
Content and inbound marketing share similarities through customer-centric approaches and focus on valuable content. Both strategies aim to attract and engage the target audience by delivering relevant and informative content. However, they differ in their scope and methodology. Content marketing primarily revolves around creating and distributing content across various channels to build brand authority.
In contrast, inbound marketing encompasses a broader range of strategies, including lead generation, nurturing, and customer acquisition. It incorporates content marketing as one component among many others to attract, convert, close, and delight customers.
While content marketing focuses on delivering valuable content to capture and retain audience attention, inbound marketing takes a holistic approach by integrating multiple tactics to drive the entire customer journey.
Inbound marketing can yield numerous benefits when applied to the process of various B2B companies. Here are some of the critical advantages of adopting inbound marketing.
1. Builds Relationships with Audiences and Customers
Inbound marketing emphasizes establishing meaningful relationships with audiences and customers by creating helpful content that allows them to address specific challenges. With inbound marketing, you better position your company as a renowned industry authority, enhancing customer loyalty and advocacy.
2. Increases Brand Awareness Among Target Audiences
The consistent delivery of informative content allows you to build a reputation as a trusted resource and expert in your industry, increasing your company’s visibility and recognition among the desired customer base. As a result, inbound marketing helps build brand awareness, making your organization more familiar and memorable to the target audience.
3. Attracts Qualified Leads
The beauty of the inbound marketing strategy is that if you consistently produce high-quality content or update existing ones that align with your target audience’s needs and interests, your organization can naturally attract prospects actively seeking solutions.
In conjunction with inbound marketing techniques such as SEO, content offers, and lead nurturing strategies, you’ll have a steady stream of qualified leads to capture and nurture, increasing the likelihood of conversion.
4. More Cost-Effective Compared to Outbound Marketing
Compared to other marketing options, inbound strategies leverage digital platforms and content creation, often costing less than traditional advertising channels. Inbound marketing focuses on attracting organic traffic by offering engaging content, reducing the reliance on paid advertising.
This cost-efficiency allows you to maximize your marketing budgets and generate a higher return on investment (ROI).
5. Scalable with a Long-Term Perspective
You can easily scale your inbound marketing efforts by consistently producing high-quality content, optimizing strategies based on data analysis, and leveraging automation tools. Unlike short-term marketing tactics, inbound marketing methods focus on building a strong foundation for sustainable success and growth.
HubSpot has developed a software that helps users implement an inbound marketing system that works, and they do claim ownership of the term. But the inbound methodology can be done in its simplest form through the integration of the following:
- A Content Management System (CMS), such as WordPress or Squarespace
- An Email Marketing / Lead Generation Tool, such as Mailchimp, ConvertKit or AWeber
- A Landing Page Builder, such as Unbounce or Leadpages. This is optional because landing pages can be done with CMS plugins, too.
- A Marketing Automation Tool, such as Autopilot. This is optional because marketing automation is often already built in your email marketing or lead generation tools.
I don’t want to leave the content marketing vs. inbound marketing debate hanging in this post. In fact there really shouldn’t be a “versus” in there, nor should you choose between the two. The right combination of both marketing disciplines will spell a huge difference in your own strategy.
It may be a different approach for every industry, every set of business goals, or every buyer persona. They key is knowing what’s applicable to you based on the circumstances surrounding your business.
When you work with Spiralytics, we help you identify specific industry trends and create a custom strategy for your unique requirements.