What is Inbound Marketing?

18 October 2021
by Archie Williamson
5 mins
What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a strategy that aims to attract and engage consumers organically via the publication of useful, added-value content marketing, effective social media management and other tools, including email and SEO.

It is about achieving internal goals such as attracting visitors to your site, generating qualified leads and converting them into paying customers but with a complete focus on the end user or target audience. It is outward-looking, centred around content that people can use to solve personal and professional pain points.

This differs from outbound marketing, which is more inward-looking. Here, the onus is on more disruptive tactics such as sales calls, paid ads, promotions, and pop-ups to bombard the consumer with branded messages and hard sells. Outbound marketing pushes itself on the audience and can be annoying, while inbound marketing is less direct, aiming to pull the customer in through its value and quality.

Because inbound marketing is all about driving engagement organically, businesses looking to put it into practice rely on content marketing. Working with a SEO agency to create and share articles, blogs and videos goes hand-in-hand with inbound marketing because it stimulates interest in a brand and its product and service offerings, without explicitly promoting it. As one marketing expert succinctly puts it, it’s more about “brains than budget”.

This is great for smaller businesses, as affordable content marketing strategies built from the ground up with SEO in mind can quickly increase brand awareness and visibility online. And it can all contribute to an inbound marketing methodology that will attract new customers and clients, engage, and convert them, and then build long-lasting relationships.

What is the inbound marketing methodology?

Inbound marketing requires you to start thinking about your customer’s wants and needs, and the act of empowering them at each stage of the cycle. To support this process, there are different types of inbound marketing you can use. These include:

  • Content creation
  • Blog management
  • SEO strategies
  • Email marketing
  • Social media managemen
  • Website optimisation
  • Native advertising

The inbound marketing methodology applies these tools across three distinct stages, each of which can feed into the other and support a cycle of positive reinforcement.

According to HubSpot, the stages are “attract”, “engage” and “delight”. You first need to make people aware of your business and bring them into the fold, then help them to solve a problem so they make a purchase, before providing expert help and assistance after the sale. Content is at the heart of all of this.

If you do everything right, you can turn a first-time visitor into a qualified lead then a customer and finally, a brand champion and promoter. By delighting customers, you increase retention and improve the chances of positive word of mouth and social sharing. These brand signals can then assist your visibility in search results. Basically, everything builds together to satisfy customers and to help you achieve your business goals.

How do I get started with inbound marketing?

Create buyer personas

Inbound marketing, unlike outbound marketing, needs to appeal to a specific person. Casting a wide net with content marketing is likely to lead to frustration. You can narrow down your target audience by creating buyer personas based around factors such as gender, age, income and location. By defining your ideal customer, you will be better able to create engaging content that draws them in and addresses their needs.

Write blogs and implement SEO

In terms of output, the best place to start is with content marketing. Creating and publishing content that provides value is the aim. Companies with a regular blog say they attract considerably more visitors, inbound links and leads. And to appeal to your target audience, you also need to implement a SEO strategy.

SEO will help you to reach the people who want to read your content for relevant information and insights. If you just write a blog without conducting keyword research, for example, you will find it harder to engage with the prospective clients and customers outlined in buyer personas. Optimising for search will put your content front and centre in Google results when a user enters a specific query with target keywords.

Leverage social media

Great content can be cross-posted and shared on social media to increase awareness and influence SEO. By opening accounts and managing profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, to name but a few, you can create additional traffic and link funnels, grow your follower counts, nurture an engaged community and start benefiting from local SEO.

Social media can support your efforts at each stage of the inbound marketing methodology, but it is especially important for the ‘delight’ phase. You will need to listen to and respond to customers after they have provided feedback, and generally be proactive in helping them and providing support. Showing you care in social media posts and comments is the best way to go above and beyond.

Website optimisation

You’ve used content to attract visitors to your site, now you need to deliver a great user experience to convert them. Crafting an ‘inbound-ready’ website is a key part of this. Every page should be designed in some way to funnel a visitor to the next stage of the journey.

Factors to consider here include internal linking, on-site navigation, and UI and UX design, as well as landing pages, email subscriptions and contact pages. Effective inbound marketing is only possible if you have a platform capable of supporting each stage of the methodology.

Again, content is a critical part of the cycle. You could use a video to attract and then an optimised blog on your site to engage. This blog will appear in Google, boosting your brand visibility in search while doubling as an excellent tool for immediately engaging visitors.

The tools covered here are the pillars of inbound marketing. You can also experiment with ads, emails, live chat bots and automation to improve the whole process. Two-thirds of companies say inbound marketing is less expensive than outbound marketing. Contact us today to find out more about our range of cost-effective SEO services, which include content creation and blog management.

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