What Is Inbound Marketing? Definition, Strategies and Examples

by Maximilian Claessens
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What Is Inbound Marketing? Definition, Strategies and Examples

Inbound Marketing is a growing strategy being adopted by an increasing number of businesses around the world, and thanks to changing consumer trends in the digital age, the success of this approach has proven to be highly beneficial time and time again. This refreshing strategy works by encouraging customers to take the first step by reaching out to companies themselves after gaining perceived or actual value from their content. However, inbound marketing can be a challenging concept for businesses to understand and implement successfully, so in this guide we’ll be breaking down what inbound marketing is and cover everything you need to know about inbound marketing so you can successfully drive your sales through engaging, long-term client relationships.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Let’s start by clarifying what inbound marketing is. Inbound Marketing evolved as a natural progression from traditional outbound marketing techniques. Although the term was only coined in 2006, examples of the inbound marketing style were seen much earlier, as businesses began to notice the impact of personalized marketing strategies. With the rise of the digital age, organizations could then begin to offer greater value to potential customers through new mediums such as social media, which allowed written content to flourish, offering solutions to customers who were directly searching for it. Fast forward to today, and businesses are establishing long-term customer relationships that are made possible through inbound marketing strategies that prioritize creating informative content that solves a problem for their target audience.

Now that we know what inbound marketing is, let’s dive a little bit deeper into its details.

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing

Once businesses discover what inbound marketing is, it takes another step to understand exactly how it works. After all, both inbound and outbound marketing share the aim of increasing sales within an organization, so it can be difficult to differentiate between the two strategies.

Inbound Marketing

The key element of inbound marketing is that through this strategy, businesses design content to encourage customers to initiate contact with them. This involves creating content that engages a reader, provides education and offers to solve a problem, which in turn leads the reader to a solution in the form of a product or service.

Outbound Marketing

Whereas inbound marketing focuses on drawing customers in who are specifically searching for their solutions, outbound strategies are more direct – they use creative advertising to reach out to potential customers directly and promote their product through a range of channels.

As a result, outbound marketing strategies are often comprised of intrusive advertising methods that depend on customers responding to adverts that they aren’t expecting, for a product that isn’t always relevant to them. This can lead to frustration among viewers who may perceive the company as something that they aren’t interested in, and damage a first impression that could otherwise have been positive under different circumstances.

While there are clear differences between inbound and outbound marketing, they do both come with their own strengths and weaknesses, so combining the two methods is a great way to avoid the challenges presented by outbound marketing and further the growth of a business, as you can open the door to leads from customers who are actively searching for your solution, as well as those who didn’t realize they needed your solution until now. Additionally, by prioritizing inbound marketing through content creation, this will give you a large range of unique, original content that you can utilize in your outbound strategy, which is a great way to accommodate a mixed marketing combination.

How Inbound Marketing Strategies Work

Perfecting an inbound marketing strategy can be a complex task, but one that is highly worthwhile, especially when comparing inbound vs outbound marketing – there are some key considerations to take when deciding on an appropriate marketing campaign, particularly around why inbound marketing works so successfully:

  • Non-intrusive communication: By providing meaningful, solution-based content for a reader, their connection with your company can form naturally, and this creates a great first impression. Inbound strategies use this to encourage long-term relationships that may lead to future client acquisitions.
  • Solution-driven content: Marketing that gives customers exactly what they are looking for is the most effective way to build trust and loyalty towards your organization.
  • A focus on brand identity: A big factor in the success of inbound marketing is the way it focuses on the development of a company’s brand identity, which consists of a variety of features. While corporate design assets like logo and style choices play a big part, customers also view a business’ mission statement, values and personality when forming an impression. Indeed, a growing number of consumers prefer brands that prioritize their values, and are more likely to shop with them as a consequence. Because of this, it’s really important that your organization’s inbound marketing strategy consists of material and content that not only discusses your products, but also who your brand is and what you believe in. Promoting specific causes is a great way to communicate your values to your target audience, and getting involved with charity drives or fundraisers will increase your popularity in the community as well as show people what your brand stands for.

Examples Of Inbound Marketing

So you know that you need to create engaging, informative content to increase your leads, but how do you actually do this in a way that optimizes your inbound marketing strategy? Let’s go through some examples to strengthen our understanding of what inbound marketing is and how it works.

Some examples of effective inbound marketing content include:

  • SEO optimized blog posts and articles that provide clear, useful information.
  • Social media content that builds your brand identity, through infographics or short videos.
  • News articles that discuss changes or events within your industry.

Benefits of Inbound Marketing

One of the biggest draws towards inbound marketing for businesses is the huge number of benefits that it can provide. These benefits include reduced costs for businesses, with research showing that on average, inbound marketing costs over 60% less than outbound strategies working towards the same result. Inbound tactics also take advantage of changing consumer trends – consumers are increasingly taking their business to organizations that speak to their values as well as their needs.

Another fantastic benefit of inbound marketing is that this strategy can be used by any business, regardless of their size or budget. As long as you or a team member can create meaningful content, be it a blog post or short video, you can implement inbound marketing in at least some fashion. This means that for smaller businesses, having a collection of high-quality content is well within reach, and this can be invaluable to their success – especially if this content is SEO-optimized and able to produce a continued return on investment.

Steps Towards Developing a Solid Inbound Marketing Strategy

One of the best ways to develop an effective and lucrative inbound marketing strategy is to follow a three-step process that can support employees to nurture leads that come into your company.

1) Attract

Firstly, remember to work on attracting leads to your business, through a range of techniques:

  • Prioritizing SEO: Search Engine Optimization is one of the best ways to reach out to your customers through original content that provides value. By using frequently searched key terms throughout your posts, you can ensure that your content will be seen by the readers looking for it, increasing the likelihood of generating leads.
  • Social Media Marketing: In the digital age, there’s never been a better time to use social media marketing to attract new customers – popular sites bring users closer to your business, and allow you to make connections with your target audience in an authentic way that drives your brand identity forward.
  • Regular content creation: Creating quality content shows your audience that your company is an expert voice in the industry, leading them to the next stage of the process.

2) Encourage

By providing value to your leads through techniques that attract consumers, you can encourage them to become paying customers by keeping the conversation going through regular interaction. You can also run events that showcase your products, and invite leading figures in your industry to sit on panel discussions that further your brand identity as a leader in the field.

During this stage, it’s beneficial to encourage potential clients to provide contact details, such as an email address, to cement their status as a lead in an authentic and non-intrusive way – by leaving their information with you they show that they are interested in your product or service.

3) Automate

After working on a demanding marketing strategy, turning your leads into sales is a rewarding way to motivate your team and improve your reputation, but this can be difficult – especially if your product or service is in a niche or oversaturated industry. However, there are some key tactics that you can implement to automate this process, and ensure that any potential leads are secured, such as:

  • Lead Scoring: Put simply, lead scoring defines the process of evaluating how likely an individual or business is to become a client of yours, which can be achieved through analysis of past data or the surveying of website visitors.
  • Lead Nurturing: Nurturing leads may involve a range of different strategies depending on how warm or cold a lead score is, but it’s useful to create a specific program with clear milestones, to communicate with and encourage all possible leads as they consider what your business has to offer.  
  • Regular customer communication: Keeping customer loyalty high can also be supported through regular customer communications like a monthly newsletter and the provision of special offers for existing customers.

By following a standardized three-step process, you can make sure that you’re not missing any vital leads, and are encouraging the ones that are already interested. Once they become a regular client, automation strategies can then keep your customers engaged and loyal to your organization.

How To Analyze Your Inbound Marketing Results

Analyzing your inbound marketing results with a consistent process is vital to understanding how your business is performing and the areas in which you can improve. There are a range of ways that you can track the effectiveness and success of your strategy.  

Tracking Social Media Activity

The number of individuals using social media grows each and every year, which makes social platforms that allow or encourage business advertisements a fantastic tool to track the effectiveness of your inbound marketing strategy. Social media sites provide an insight into exactly how many individuals want to receive updates about the direction and product offering of your company. You can also track how many impressions and subsequent interactions your content received, to give you a clear picture of the attraction of your inbound marketing. As consumer trends change, and individuals prefer to see content from brands that speak to their values, social media is a great way to reach out to and retain clients through the establishment of a relatable brand identity.

Nurturing Funnel Completion Rate

A nurturing funnel completion rate defines the number of users who interact with your website or social media content, becoming leads that progress into paid customers. By tracking your sites users, you can use lead scoring and nurturing to assist them as they learn more about your company, and when they purchase a product or service you can analyze this data as part of your organization’s funnel completion rate.    

Keyword Ranking Tracking

Another effective way to analyze the performance of your inbound marketing strategy is through tracking how successfully your search engine optimization has attracted web users to your content. By using dedicated SEO tools, you can check that the keywords you have opted for are offering you the best chance of getting readers, which can eventually become warm leads through an inbound strategy that prioritizes customer-led contact initiation.

Arguably the best approach to take towards tracking the success of your inbound marketing strategy is to confirm your business goals and how you want your marketing strategy to help you pursue these before you invest in different growth solutions. This will give you a clear vision for the numbers you’d like to see, and in turn you can analyze the success of your strategy in a way that is scalable as your business grows.  

Closing Words

Ultimately, only you and your team can decide how best to approach your inbound marketing strategy in a way that communicates your brand identity and allows you to effortlessly track your key data points for marketing analysis. However, once you successfully develop a solid process that puts added value for your potential and existing customers at the forefront of your work, you’ll see a positive and refreshing reaction to your organization. Although it’s important to strike a balance between both inbound and outbound strategies, the benefits that a solid inbound marketing campaign can bring to your business are undeniable.

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