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What Is Inbound Marketing? Ultimate Guide

Inbound marketing featured image
Inbound marketing is crucial for sustainable business growth. Image credit: Campaign Creators

What is inbound marketing? Well, you can’t run a business without customers and customers won’t come to you if they don’t know you exist. Inbound marketing is one of the cornerstones of creating an effective and sustainable business.

Inbound marketing is a clearly defined type of marketing with a focused approach to acquiring customers. The goal is to set up your inbound strategy in such a way that customers find you, rather than the other way around.

Naturally, when this works, it greatly reduces the costs of customer acquisition.

However, inbound marketing isn’t quite as simple as set and forget. Rather, most inbound channels require constant ongoing optimisation, in one way or another.

Read on to find out how you could benefit from a coherent inbound marketing strategy.

Inbound Marketing Definition

Inbound marketing is defined as a type of marketing focused on search engine optimisation (SEO), content, social media presence, and having a defined brand. To simplify, inbound marketing brings the customers to you.

In other words, the goal of inbound marketing is to make your business discoverable by potential customers.

For example, you could promote a new product or service your company is offering on social media. A customer who is looking for exactly what your company provides contacts you interested in what you’re selling.

You didn’t have to seek this customer individually out or market to them directly. Inbound marketing focuses more on reaching broad categories of interested customers by using high-quality content.

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Most marketers agree that inbound marketing is incredibly effective. Image credit: Digital Media Stream

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing

When comparing marketing methods it’s important to know what each is. As inbound marketing has already been discussed, let’s define outbound marketing. Outbound marketing is the term used to define classic advertising methods.

These can include direct mail, television commercials, radio ads, telemarketers, and printed ads stuffed in door frames or left on automobiles. Basically old fashioned interruptive advertising.

In other words, outbound marketing strategies aim to get customer’s attention, even when they’re not specifically looking for your products or services.

This interruptive nature is the key difference between the two methods. Let’s compare the two across a range of different channels.

Old Media Versus New Media

Outbound marketing often leverages traditional old media. In the modern marketplace, this means that it’s easier to ignore. People don’t watch traditional television as much as they used to and streaming services are reducing the reach of commercials.

The switch to cellular technology is making cold calling less effective as well. Inbound marketing leverages new technology such as social media and the Internet. In terms of using a modern format to advertise from inbound marketing easily wins.

Two Way Communication

Inbound marketing is a two-way street. A potential customer can easily reply to a social media posting or a blog’s comment section and you can respond back to them. This creates a dialogue and that is a building block to a consumer relationship.

Outbound marketing is a one way street. A potential customer can’t respond to a flyer or a commercial.

The ability to get feedback from customers in real time is very valuable and something markers from several decades ago would have given endless sums of money to get, so take advantage.

Show Value

Outbound marketing is often shallow, flashy, and not particularly deep. It’s often this way out of necessity due to the fact it’s casting a wide net and has to grab as much attention as possible. Inbound marketing you can take your time.

For example, a TV ad aims to grab as much of the attention of as many viewers as possible, often with gimmicky slogans or hard sales techniques.

A well thought out blog entry gives you a chance to show knowledge, expertise, and reach out to your customers. Because inbound marketing is about you, you can show customers why they should do business with your company.

Customers’ Moods

Inbound marketing starts the customer engagement process out on a good note. They saw a posting or video or something of that nature that they found interesting. They have a need and have found you the person who can sell them the solution to that need.

A customer brought in by inbound marketing comes to you.

Outbound marketing tries to pull people in which may create customers who are curious but they need more work to convert into a sell. The inbound customer is already interested in what you’re offering.

Our Top Inbound Marketing Strategies

As noted above, inbound marketing covers a lot of different material. Here are just some of the more popular forms it can take.

Blogs

A blog can be about a variety of topics. When writing your company’s blog you have flexibility in terms of content. The key thing to keep in mind is that what you’re writing should be valuable to your readers.

Topics can be about industry news, new product releases, opinion articles, lists, informative pieces, and so on. No matter what the topic, make your readers feel like their time wasn’t wasted.

If you want people to find your blog, your SEO game will need to be strong. In other words, you need to identify topics that people want to read about, and create better resources than any of your competitors.

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Blogging is incredibly important for inbound marketing. Image credit: Founder Jar

Social Media Posting

The sheer reach of social media speaks for itself. If you want to succeed in the modern market a social media presence is key.

Depending on the platform your social media postings can be articles, quick quips, pictures, or other content suitable for the platform you’re on.

Likely you’re going to be using multiple platforms as part of a wider marketing strategy so there should be a common theme or tone across your various company accounts.

There are two key ways to use social media for inbound marketing:

  1. Audience aggregation – Where your followers share your content, which in turn grows your audience.
  2. Social media search – Where potential customers find your business while using native search on a given social media platform. This is most effective on LinkedIn.

SEO

Search engine optimisation is one of the most important parts of inbound marketing. Statistics show that most people don’t read past the first page of search engine results. A skilled inbound marketing agency can help craft your SEO approach.

This assures when customers are searching for services and terms related to your business that you show up on the first page.

Videos

Much like blogs, video marketing can cover a wide range of topics. A video can be a more effective format for more advanced material where it’s easier to show a topic than tell.

This also increases your reach as video viewing on the Internet is becoming a huge part of modern media consumption.

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Most marketers agree that video marketing is essential today. Image credit: Biteable

E-Books

A short e-book is a great way for your company to show off your expertise. If you work in home repair a short book on common easy to fix problems around the home is a good topic.

When offering such an e-book you can include contact information for your company advising readers to reach out to you for professional help with more advanced issues.

This builds trust and associates your company with a topic the e-book reader is already interested in.

Many companies use e-books as lead magnets, where customers can access your premium content in exchange for signing up to your mailing list. This helps to lock inbound leads into your marketing funnel.

What is an Inbound Marketing Agency?

Now that you have a better idea of what inbound marketing is, let’s look at how you can implement it. Unless you’re a huge company who can afford your own marketing department that solely works in that field, hiring outside marketing experts is probably a good idea.

It’s also worth noting that even huge companies hire outside professionals because even they aren’t experts at everything.
If you need:

  • Increased client revenue.
  • More customer leads.
  • A higher customer retention rate.

Then an inbound marketing agency can help you achieve these goals.

How to Utilise Inbound Marketing

As the above information shows, inbound marketing is no simple thing. It is a complex and rigorous discipline that requires you to have expert assistance. But the investment in outside assistance is worth it and more than pays for itself.

If you want to bring customers to you and increase both brand awareness and your share of the market an inbound marketing strategy is needed. By hiring experienced professionals you can increase sales and reach out to customers you never knew existed.

Speak to ProfileTree today to find out more about developing an effective inbound marketing strategy.

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