What is Inbound Marketing?

Published: Feb 26, 2020
Last Updated:
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Regardless of your industry, your business is going to need an inbound marketing strategy. This type of marketing strategy focuses on bringing motivated customers to you, rather than forcing you to go in search of new customers who may or may not be interested in your products. An effective inbound marketing strategy will attract your target market segment, convert them into customers, and retain them for years to come.

What is Inbound Marketing?

An inbound marketing strategy is the process of using a variety of marketing elements to generate buzz about your business, attract new customers to your website and social platforms, convert site visitors into customers, and ultimately retain those customers for years to come.

Inbound marketing has always played an important role in the success of a business, but the digital landscape has emphasized the need for this type of marketing strategy. The digital experience continues to revolutionize the way that consumers do business.

Today's consumers know that they can instantly access information about any product or service they are considering. Online feedback allows them to feel confident about their purchases. Social media gives them a platform to share their own experiences. Inbound marketing aims to capitalize on this experience. It raises awareness about your brand and pulls users into your brand experience.

Inbound marketing requires you to use a variety of channels to access your target market segments. Data collection is critical, as you will need to personalize the brand experience for each consumer who interacts with your business. In order to develop and implement an effective inbound marketing strategy, you need a deep understanding of this approach.

Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing

Before you begin to develop an inbound marketing strategy for your business, you must first understand the distinct differences between inbound and outbound marketing.

An inbound marketing strategy will:

  • Focus on raising awareness about your brand and bringing in customers
  • Attempt to transform an uninformed customer into a lifelong customer by utilizing a variety of marketing elements
  • Use data to provide customers with a marketing experience that is both personable and relatable
  • Heavily focus on digital marketing

An outbound marketing strategy will:

  • Focus on finding new customers by being present in the public sphere
  • Attempt to attract new types of customers to the business
  • Take a more general approach to marketing instead of offering a personalized consumer experience
  • Prioritize traditional marketing materials such as print publications and TV commercials

While most businesses will find that it's important to have both an inbound and outbound marketing strategy, inbound digital marketing appears to be the new normal. Consumers have been inundated with advertising for decades, and many find traditional marketing materials to be tedious and irritating. Inbound marketing reaches consumers on the platforms that they prefer and brings them to your brand by way of personalization and customization.

Why Inbound Marketing is Important

When you implement an inbound marketing strategy, your business will reap a variety of benefits. Here are a few reasons why inbound marketing is important for your brand's growth and development:

It Attracts Motivated Customers

Inbound marketing allows you to bring the customers who are most interested in your products and services to your online storefront. You can use a data-driven inbound digital marketing campaign to reach only those consumers who care about the products and services that you offer.

It Walks Consumers Through Your Brand Experience

With an inbound marketing strategy in place, your target audience will transform from interested consumers to lifelong customers. An inbound marketing strategy combines relevant, accurate content with a personalized approach to business, allowing your customer to feel connected to your brand. Not only will you attract the most motivated consumers, but you will be far more likely to retain them.

It Allows You to Leverage Your Marketing Budget

Inbound marketing allows you to spend your marketing budget where it counts. You will enjoy a better return on your marketing investments when you focus on the type of marketing that attracts the most motivated consumers in your niche.

Beyond these benefits, inbound marketing has a tendency to produce more immediate results because it prioritizes customer conversion. In addition, it lends itself to long-term brand loyalty, so the benefits continue to be realized over time.

An Inbound Marketing Framework

A good inbound marketing strategy tends to follow a particular framework:

1. Identify and Attract Prospective Consumers

Inbound marketing requires you to collect data in order to better understand the consumers who are most likely to be interested in your business.

For instance, if you run a business that sells mountain bikes, you may want to create a targeted online marketing campaign. This campaign should be aimed directly at online users who are searching for mountain bikes, looking up trail information, and reading content related to their interest.

With inbound marketing, you don't have to waste your marketing resources on broad marketing campaigns that may not even reach your niche market segment. However, you shouldn't only stick with a single online platform. During the attracting phase of your inbound marketing strategy, you have to use a variety of components to fully raise awareness about your brand.

2. Convert Consumers into Customers

Once you have brought prospective consumers to your brand's website or social media pages, you need to have a marketing strategy in place to quickly convert them into customers. Your sites and profiles all need to be aimed at driving conversions.

You can do this by creating a website that naturally leads consumers through the buying process, taking them step-by-step through what your brand has to offer until they are convinced to finalize their purchase.

Unfortunately, you don't have a lot of time to convert website visitors into brand customers. Most people will only spend a few seconds on your website before they decide whether it's worth their while to stick around. Powerful visuals, a clean layout, and a responsive website design will help you boost your conversions and decrease your bounce rate.

3. Retain Customers with Personalized Promotions

After you have successfully converted a consumer into a customer, you'll need to focus your marketing efforts on retaining those customers. Loyalty and rewards programs are critical components of an inbound marketing strategy.

Most modern consumers appreciate receiving rewards for interacting with your brand, and they are going to be more willing to work with you again if they know the rewards will continue. You can use the data you collect to create personalized rewards, discounts, and promotions that increase both customer loyalty as well as referrals.

4 Types of Inbound Marketing

There are many varieties of inbound marketing that you should try to include in your overall inbound marketing strategy.

1. Content Marketing

Content marketing is a strategy that requires you to create relevant and accurate content designed to engage your target audience and encourage them to interact with your brand. Your content marketing strategy should include a variety of elements, including website landing pages, blog posts and infographics. Your content should make consumers aware of what you represent, encourage them to consider what you have to offer, and influence them to make a final decision.

2. Social Marketing

Social media marketing is the process of using social platforms to reach those interested consumers who will be most likely to interact with your brand. You will need to develop a presence on the most powerful platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

3. Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Commonly referred to as PPC, pay-per-click advertising is a targeted approach to online advertising. With a PPC campaign, you pay for ads based on the amount of clicks that an advertisement generates. These ads are strategically placed on a search engine results page, on an individual's news feed, or within their e-mail inbox.

Unfortunately, you have to pay for every click—not for every conversion—so it's important to develop an effective PPC campaign that focuses on converting customers rather than just getting them to quickly visit your website.

4. SEO Strategies

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is a marketing strategy that can help your brand become more visible online. You can use targeted keywords to boost your ranking on the search engine results page, which is commonly known as the SERP. You can embed keywords into the content that you produce as well as your metadata, which makes it easy for interested consumers to find your brand.

3 Tips for Developing an Inbound Marketing Strategy

The process of developing an inbound marketing strategy is quite simple. Here are a few tips that can help you get started:

  1. Study your target market segment before you begin to develop an inbound traffic marketing strategy. You will want to learn about your consumers. Use the data you collect to analyze their demographics. Factors such as age, gender, location, interest, and educational level can help you create a targeted inbound marketing strategy. You will want to develop buyer personas so that you can create relatable content for your inbound marketing campaign.
  2. Remember that your inbound marketing strategy needs to tell the story of your brand. Inbound marketing is more human and relatable, so it needs to feel more conversational and less like a hard sales pitch.
  3. Create an inbound marketing strategy plan that identifies the elements you wish to incorporate into your campaign. Don't start producing content or launching PPC campaigns until you have a solid plan in place that utilizes an inbound marketing framework.

Your inbound marketing strategy does not have to be set in stone. You and your marketing team should constantly be looking at ways you can adapt and adjust your inbound marketing strategy to drive more conversions.

Next Steps for Implementing Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

So, now that you know it is time to create an inbound marketing strategy, you need to identify your next steps. There are a few you can take now:

Begin Collecting Data

You will want to begin a data collection effort that gives you the information you need to know about your target marketing segments. After you have the data you need, you can begin the development of your marketing strategy, which should include your inbound marketing objectives and inbound marketing personas.

Invest in Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

Once you have launched your data collection program and have analyzed the results, you need to invest in your inbound marketing campaign. Inbound content marketing is an excellent first step toward achieving your inbound marketing goals and objectives. It's important to remember that you don't have to take on this project entirely on your own. You can potentially hire a team of experts who can help you create and implement each element of your inbound marketing strategy.

Create a Content Calendar

When you've identified which elements you would like to incorporate into your strategy, you can get to work creating a content calendar. The content calendar should have deadlines for strategically releasing new content on certain dates and at specific times. Each new piece of content should encourage consumers to keep moving through their buying journey.

It's important to refer back to the data you have about consumer buying habits when creating the content calendar. You will want to time your content releases during the most powerful moments in the buying process. When creating new content and launching new elements of your inbound marketing strategy, you should always refer back to the content calendar and follow the guidelines outlined on it.

By taking the time to create a thoughtful and strategic inbound marketing strategy, you will find that it's easy to implement it and enjoy the results. Now is the right time to ditch the traditional way of marketing your products and services, and focus on innovative, data-driven marketing strategies that bring your most motivated customers right to your doorstep. Investing in an inbound marketing strategy will not only benefit your business, but it also will benefit loyal customers who will come to know your brand and rely on its offerings.

This article was written by Compose.ly writer Sarah Fish.


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