What is inbound marketing?
^^If this is a question you’re asking yourself, stick around. In this guide, I’ll be covering the what and why of inbound marketing, before explaining how you can use it to boost your digital results.
You’ve probably heard the term ‘inbound marketing’ before, but do you really understand what it means?
And are you implementing a digital strategy that focusses or harnesses the power of it?
Let’s start by looking at the definition of ‘inbound marketing’…
What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is a strategy aimed at attracting inflowing customers and products towards a business.
^^This is inbound marketing at its most simplest.^^
Inbound marketing differs from traditional marketing as it does not focus on outwardly promoting a business with advertisements or direct marketing tactics.
In the world of digital, inbound marketing means creating and sharing as many entry points for prospects as possible.
These ‘entry points’ might come in the shape of valuable content, social media posts, search engine optimisation or branding techniques.
The focus of an entrepreneur or marketer who uses inbound marketing is to make their business as accessible as possible for potential customers.
The success of an inbound marketing campaign should be measured in things like inbound enquiries, product sales (not related to ad/marketing campaigns), lead conversions (direct from content) and traffic scores from organic sources.
Why Inbound Marketing?
Without even knowing it, most digital brands and businesses actually adopt inbound marketing as the primary focus of their strategies.
This is awesome, however, there’s also a problem with this…
…when you adopt a technique without really understanding what it is, why it works or how you can improve your results with it, your potential is always going to have a low ceiling.
Here are a few reasons why inbound marketing works:
Who would you trust more:
- A person you’ve just seen on an advert for the first time trying to sell you stuff
- A brand you’ve found online through your own research in a specific industry
The majority of the world’s internet users would always rather do business with a brand that they have found and researched themselves – because they trust them.
An inbound marketing strategy that is made accessible and available to prospects who have an active interest in your industry, is going to convert at much higher rates.
Trust is a major issue for online businesses – inbound marketing is a great way of overcoming it.
Perhaps my favourite thing about inbound marketing is the foundations it lays for long-term growth.
I’m a marketer and it’s my obligation to build businesses online – ads allow brands to do this, but the problem with a strategy solely reliant on ads is that as soon as they’re turned off, the results dry up.
A marketing strategy that incorporates inbound efforts might start slow, but it means that businesses can grow alongside their advertising campaigns and compound on them.
Inbound marketing efforts generate FREE results that grow over time when you’re consistent in delivering the right plays.
A big part of inbound marketing is branding.
Small and medium sized businesses are often short on time and must focus the majority of their resources on their customers – this can neglect branding.
People associate with brands – building something that your target market associate can pay off with big rewards in the long term.
Quality Leads and Customers
Inbound marketing usually creates every business’s favourite kind of leads and customers.
These are people who convert, love the industry you work in, are really passionate about your products and refer others.
A big reason for this are the trust and brand building advantages of inbound marketing, but it’s also because the people who are most active in your industry are those who enter new businesses via inbound channels.
These are passionate people who are well worth capitalising on – especially if you can use their content to create social proof, reviews, testimonials or referrals.
How to Use Inbound Marketing
The tactics and strategies that fall under the ‘inbound marketing’ title are broad and offer marketers many options.
But that doesn’t mean that I can’t point you in the right direction.
Here are some of the most effective ways that a digital brand can use inbound marketing to generate high converting leads and customers:
In inbound marketing terms, look at every piece of content as a door that potential inbound prospects can find you through.
With every new piece of content comes a new access point. For example, trace your journey with our digital presence – was it originally via a blog, podcast or video?
Content marketing comes in many shapes and sizes, but I like to split it into 4 main categories:
- Written (like this)
Stick to the medium that suits your skills and best represents your company (at first).
When you publish high quality content consistently, you’ll get traction (the better you are, the sooner it will be) and from there you’ll have an audience.
This audience are people who regularly visit your website/content for more of the same. They subscribe to be the first to hear about new stuff, share your content with others and convert into customers.
Content marketing is the bedrock of modern digital marketing, and its role in inbound marketing plays a massive part in that.
Social Media Marketing
Social networks dominate our internet usage time, making them a great place to implement inbound marketing.
The main point about social with regards to inbound marketing is to be as visible as possible.
Post regularly – keep people updated with your business, your products, your staff, your industry – anything related to the ‘brand’.
Provide actual value to your followers – measure this by tracking your social media engagement rates – the more engagement your posts receive, the greater their reach will be (find out more about how this works for the Instagram algorithm).
Inbound marketing on social media will keep you at the top of your prospect’s mind as well as encouraging brand recall.
There are plenty of other outward techniques we can adopt to generate sales via social, but in terms of inbound, keep reminding and seeding the quality of your business to your existing followers!
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Imagine if I’m able to get this post to rank on Google for a query from somebody who is looking for advice about their inbound marketing strategies.
Then imagine that this person takes value from the content and decides to sign up to our newsletter or download one of our lead magnets.
Then imagine that after that they trigger one of our email drip campaigns they buy a product from us.
Then imagine that they love our product and refer one of their peers to buy from us too.
This is the beauty of SEO as part of an inbound marketing strategy.
For this to come together, all I have to do is research the right keywords, create a post that ranks and publish it – everything else is based around the effectiveness of my content marketing funnel strategy.
Make sure everything you publish on your website is optimised for search – it might not get you any more organic visitors today or tomorrow, but over time, these efforts pay off.
Keep on top of on-page SEO, build links and follow the right advice – this will get you to where you want to be.
Spend some time really understanding your target market (use a customer avatar to help!).
Analyse what language they use, discover their values and what issues they support.
Use this information to build a brand voice that your target market actually want to listen to.
When you’re relatable, you’re much more likely to get referrals, be shared by your leads and generate inbound enquiries.
Link your branding directly to your target market and the rewards will come.
What is Inbound Marketing?
By now you should have a clear understanding of what inbound marketing is, why you should use it and some ideas about how you can implement it.
The beauty of inbound marketing strategies and campaigns is that they often overlap, allowing you to benefit from different sources of inbound visitors.
For instance, this blog is an example of content marketing, but we can also break it down into smaller social media content size chunks, I can optimise it for search engines, spread links for it far and wide and use our branding throughout to relate to our audience.
And best of all, when you implement inbound marketing consistently, it never stops growing.
Want more content like this? Check out one of our most popular ever articles:
- What is Direct Marketing? A Complete Guide to the Most Cost Effective Marketing Strategy
- Facebook Ad Scaling Basics: 2 Ways Anybody Can Scale Their Facebook Ad Campaign
- How to Write For The Internet
- Google Chrome Extensions for Marketers
- Instagram Reach: 9 Strategies to Increase Your Instagram Post Reach