Inbound marketing has become one of the most effective ways to grow your business in a digital world. It’s a broad discipline that incorporates many different elements to attract and convert customers. To create a successful inbound marketing strategy, it’s essential to know more about what the term really means. According to HubSpot, inbound marketing is about “creating valuable experiences that have a positive impact on people and your business”. It does this by attracting visitors to your website and blog, through relevant and helpful content. It engages through tools such as chat and email. Next, it converts your visitors, who become customers. Finally, it continues to delights them after conversion, to ensure repeat business.
Inbound versus outbound
Inbound marketing is very different from outbound marketing. The latter features lots of traditional ways to communicate with potential and existing customers. These might include print, TV and radio advertising, direct mail, catalogues and cold calling. It’s sometimes known as interruption marketing, because it references any activity where a company initiates the conversation. Outbound marketing aims to cast its net wide, often without as much targeting, to reach the widest possible audience. It tends to be expensive to implement and can deliver a lower ROI.
The advantages of inbound
In contrast, inbound marketing is a collection of activities that draws buyers towards you, while they spend time online. It’s a form of “pull” marketing, that attracts targeted prospects who already have an interest in what you provide. Inbound marketing is usually more cost-efficient in terms of generating leads and sales.
A big advantage of inbound communication is the way it communicates. With outbound marketing, communication is generally one-way. A company disseminates its message through its chosen medium. Its customers can’t interact or communicate back. And it’s easy for them to avoid the message if they choose (by skipping TV ads or not opening magazines).
With inbound marketing, the focus is on education and engagement. It encourages interaction, feedback, questions and comments. With inbound, the communication is most definitely two-way. It fosters direct connections with customers and enhances commercial relationships.
The role of SEO
To reiterate, inbound marketing activities help your company to be found by customers who want what you have. Therefore, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) should play a key role within your inbound marketing strategy.
As explained in our previous blog, the primary role of SEO is to generate traffic. Done properly, SEO boosts your online visibility, and helps you climb higher in search engine rankings. It’s estimated that around 93% of online experiences start with a search engine. Great SEO will bring you quality, targeted users that are already actively seeking the services or products you supply. Make sure those users find you – and not your competition!
The power of PPC
Many people mistakenly believe that because it’s paid advertising, PPC (pay-per-click) does not belong within an inbound marketing strategy. But properly deployed, it can play a valuable role. It’s important to remember that PPC targets only specific searchers, who are actively looking for whatever it is your company provides. So, while it does “buy” visits to your website (rather than attracting organic traffic), PPC is still a valid “pull” mechanism. Incorporating it into your inbound marketing strategy is a fast way to get yourself in front of an interested audience.
The beauty of blogging
Blogging is a crucial element of inbound marketing. It’s quite simply another great way for companies to attract visitors to their website. Regular blogs are a valuable source of new content. Great content helps to enhance your company/brand’s reputation (and improve its SEO). Content marketing also helps to generate leads, build brand awareness and foster trust and goodwill.
Content comes in many forms, but website pages and blogs are two of the most basic and widespread. Blogging is a fast and inexpensive way for businesses to promote themselves online. A blog allows a company to showcase its knowledge and authority and express its brand’s personality. It can also inform, educate, reassure and entertain.
Be more social
Another strong inbound marketing tactic is social media activity. It’s a great way of attracting and engaging with potential, new and returning customers. Social media provides another opportunity to share valuable, interesting and relevant content with your target audience. So post regularly and consistently. Use hashtags and keywords. And, above all, stay authentic to your brand and its values. So-called ephemeral content, such as Instagram stories or live videos, is an effective way to achieve this.
As previously explained, inbound marketing involves two-way communication and social media is a key element of this. That’s why it often plays an important role within the ‘delight’ element of the inbound marketing model. Don’t waste the opportunity social delivers to engage directly with your customers. Communicate with them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Set up chats or LinkedIn groups to keep the interaction going. Respond to questions, and acknowledge – and then swiftly solve – any problems or complaints.
Don’t overlook email
Done properly, email is another important part of a successful inbound marketing strategy. Consider it another form of conversation and communication. After all, recipients have, at some point, signed up to hear from you. Don’t disappoint them!
Email marketing can take a variety of different forms. A regular newsletter is an excellent way to raise/sustain awareness, launch a new product or highlight a special offer. It allows you to deliver a very targeted message directly to a verified inbox. Standalone, exclusive promotional emails are another great way to reward existing consumers and further strengthen business relationships.