What Is Inbound Marketing and How Does It Work?
In a world dominated by pushy ads and irrelevant pop-ups, inbound marketing shines through as one of the few ways to stand out from the crowd and offer something truly useful. Consumers all over the world are tuning out of interruption based, invasive marketing methods. It’s time we keep up.
Inbound marketing is a permission-driven strategy that aims to create an influx of leads — people who are actively looking for your products and services. It is based on the premise that consumers don’t like being interrupted with ads when they’re busy doing something else, even though they could possibly use whatever it is that you offer.
Interestingly, if the same consumers find your business through organic search, they’ll be far more likely to respond to a call to action or actually buy something.
So, instead of reaching out to an uninterested audience, it’s better to make it easier for the interested audience to find you. These are the people who are already researching your industry, evaluating your competitors, and are close to making their purchase decision.
Social media, blogs, and search engines are powerful marketing tools. They extend the reach of your business and ensure that potential customers find you. By publishing content that is beneficial to your customer base, you are fulfilling an actual need that people have. This establishes trust and credibility for your business and it’s the cornerstone of Inbound Marketing.
Outbound can be considered as the traditional style of marketing as it involves pushing the product or service to the potential customers. Inbound is a little more organic — it is more about the customer finding your business via their own research. Where outbound traditionally uses channels such as television, print, or even direct mail, inbound primarily focuses on pushing quality content via digital channels.
There are four stages of the methodology of inbound marketing:
Attract | Convert | Close | Delight
The basis of this idea is to have people find your business. From here, you turn them into customers and eventually have them tell others how amazing you are.
Attract Your Prospects
This phase is all about getting the attention of your target audience and letting them know that you exist. This is typically done with the help of SEO-driven content, blogging, website optimization, and social media.
Convert Them Into Leads
Once you’ve got the right people visiting your page, the next step is to convert them into leads by influencing them with relevant content. The goal is to build thought leadership and see to it that your brand is recognized as an authority in its field.
What we’re trying to do in the conversion phase is a lot more than just gathering contact information — it’s about adding real value and offering information that’s useful in many ways. Only then people will warm up to the idea of buying from you; they’ll trust you.
Close The Deal
The closing process refers to when leads become actual customers. There are many tools out there that can help you achieve this. Undoubtedly, the most effective options are emails and CRMs.
Delight Your Audience
Your relationship with your customers doesn’t end at the payment gateway. Consistently providing value to your audience even after they’ve become customers can go a long way. Think of each customer as a potential promoter — someone who’s so delighted with your services that they can feel comfortable recommending you to others without any personal incentive.
Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing Methodology — Difference Explained
Even though content and inbound marketing have a lot in common, they’re actually two different concepts. Content marketing falls under the wide umbrella of inbound marketing. It focuses on the creation and distribution of content across various channels.
Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is a bigger picture strategy that tackles a lot more than just content generation. It’s more about reaching out to buyer personas.
We’ve spoken a lot about content marketing already; it is the attraction of potential customers through engaging and helpful content relevant to your business. It is merely a part of inbound marketing which also includes the use of things like web design and mailing lists.
When buyers show interest in a product or service, they typically begin to gather information to assist them with their purchase decision. They’ll assess and research their options and eventually decide on a product, service, or vendor. During the early stages of their decision journey, they will want to consume informative content such as eBooks, whitepapers, or instructional videos — anything that will assist them with their research.
During the decision process, consumers will benefit from case studies, data sheets, and FAQs. Upon selection, free trials, discount codes or demo videos will help to complete the transaction. Keep in mind that Inbound Marketing is reliant on high traffic to determine its success and content is the bait!
How Can Inbound Marketing Propel Your Company into Success?
With the exception of Super Bowl commercials, very few people actually enjoy advertisements. We can all agree that ads are annoying, especially when they pop-up unannounced in places they aren’t welcome. Inbound marketing removes this issue — people can’t get frustrated by ads if they are actively seeking them out.
Super Bowl commercials throw their products against a wall to see what sticks; inbound marketing filters your audience and reels in only those people who are specifically looking for your products. Understanding the intent of the consumer by gathering information about them ensures that you are selling to an audience that’s more likely to purchase.
Some key points to remember:
- Putting your business in front of the right target audience leads to them finding you
- An essential element of the process is performance evaluation
- Analysing your blogs and posts to ensure that the content you are creating is useful for your customers
- Inbound marketing is based on an understanding of who the customer is and what they are looking for
- Customer engagement is a crucial part of the process
- Creating a positive experience for your audience helps with word-of-mouth and builds trust
Customer base aside, inbound marketing will help you with time management and affordability. Rather than spending time on a cold call strategy or advertising to people who are not in need of your product, you can put your efforts into having leads come to you from a target audience who are already looking for your services. The inbound strategy can be a lower cost alternative which allows you to tailor your marketing team to more specific tasks.
Keep Up With Marketing Trends
As technology changes, marketing strategies also must evolve. You may notice the advertisements in your Facebook feed are now eerily related to your current interests. A perfect example of how account-based marketing is developing.
Instagram is another example of how marketing has changed as technology evolves. Initially, Instagram ads were very subtle, with companies paying high profile accounts to place their products within posts. Now you see the advertisements as blatant ads in your feed designed to look like something you are already following.
Predicting what marketing trends will be popular in the future can be as easy as aligning them to the latest technological advances (check the list of features on a new release phone for example). Smart and unique marketing approaches to these new outlets will always work well. You never know what could be next to go viral!
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