Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy designed to attract customers to a brand with content and experiences that they derive value from. Inbound marketing utilizes blogs, events, SEO, and social media to create brand awareness and attract targeted consumers. By attracting or “drawing in” a targeted audience, inbound marketing differs from outbound marketing which actively pushes a brand onto consumers who may have no interest in what is being offered.
Why is inbound marketing important?
Before the advent of the internet age, outbound marketing techniques such as catalogs, TV advertisements, and cold calls were reasonably effective. However, consumers are now savvier and more empowered.
They see outbound marketing as aggressive, pushy, and most importantly, not tailored to their individual needs. Inbound marketing is the way of the future since it seeks to build a relationship with high-quality leads who have a prior interest in a product or service.
Indeed, a HubSpot study of over 6300 businesses found that 68% of those using inbound marketing strategies believed their marketing strategy was effective. Yet only 48% of those engaged in outbound marketing could say the same.
Inbound marketing is a more effective strategy because it provides solutions to problems that consumers are actively searching out. Indeed, a 2016 Nielsen survey found that adults spend an average of 10 hours a day in front of a screen consuming content.
Businesses who provide helpful content to consumers build trust, reputation, and authority in their niche without being seen as motivated by sales. Importantly, they provide answers where consumers are looking for them.
An example of inbound marketing methodology
While providing value is essential to any inbound marketing strategy, it is not enough to solve consumer problems and then wait for sales to materialize.
Businesses must have a methodology that moves the consumer from an interested lead into a happy and satisfied consumer. Here is what that might look like.
Attracting customers is the first step, and it must be done with precision. Businesses need to draw in consumers who stand a good chance of being converted into customers.
Attracting the right consumer means creating content that resonates with a business’s target audience – while also compelling them to move to the next stage of the methodology.
Once the customer is attracted to a brand, businesses must capture their contact details to begin the process of relationship building.
In exchange for such details – usually an email address – marketing teams must offer something in return. This is usually a free industry report, a chapter of a paid book, or access to exclusive blog posts or webinars.
Closing describes the process of turning a lead into a happy customer through a combined sales and marketing strategy. However, it’s important to note that closing will only be successful if the consumer has been properly nurtured in the previous step and been primed to purchase.
Effective closing marketing strategies include marketing automation, email marketing, and sales promotions or discounts.
Many businesses abandon their customers once they have closed the sale, but this is to their detriment. In the delight phase, the goal is to establish brand loyalty by showing consumers that you still value them and what they have to offer.
This is achieved through continuing to engage with them and ensuring they are completely satisfied. This is particularly important for businesses that offer ongoing services such as subscriptions, but all businesses should make customer retention and satisfaction one of their main priorities.
- Inbound marketing is a process of attracting and then converting customers through valuable content.
- Inbound marketing is an effective way to reach consumers in the modern age. Businesses must cultivate a brand that consumers associate with value first. Only then should the focus move to selling.
- A four-step inbound marketing methodology details how a business might attract and then convert consumers in their target audience.