Inbound Marketing

What it is and Why it Matters for Your Business

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Throughout all our years in business (of which it’s been plenty – there’s grey hair to prove it), we’ve discovered one secret that can help companies truly grow: more customers. Okay, so maybe that’s not a huge secret, but if it is so apparent, why aren’t more companies steadily growing their client list year over year? Well, they must not know about inbound marketing.

With inbound marketing, the customer comes to YOU. Sound too good to be true? We can assure you it’s not.

Gone are the days of cold calling, manual outreach, and printed marketing materials to get potential customers on the phone. Although we fully acknowledge these methods can work, we also know they’re not sustainable and often leave you feeling like you’re continually chasing leads.

While the concept of attracting your ideal customers without “the chase” may seem like a pipedream, the fact is that this could be a reality for your business if you implement the right strategy.

In this guide, we’re breaking down what inbound marketing is, how to implement an effective inbound marketing strategy, and what tools you can use to attract high-quality leads on autopilot.

Table of Contents

Inbound Marketing Definition

Inbound marketing is a marketing approach that involves attracting the right customers to your business through highly-targeted, engaging content tailored to their unique goals. When you implement an inbound marketing strategy, your campaigns draw customers in by presenting solutions to your audience’s most pressing problems. Seems pretty straight forward right? Answer their questions, solve their problems, get their business.

Business owners tend to prefer inbound marketing to other methodologies because it helps their company build authentic connections with potential customers. This leads to better close rates, increased retention, and raving fans. Plus, you skip all the spammy sales content that makes you cringe.

Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing: What’s the Difference?

This inbound marketing definition would be incomplete without us comparing it to another type of marketing: outbound marketing. 

Outbound marketing refers to a marketing approach that involves you (the business) initiating the conversation with a potential customer, typically through outreach. Think mass email outreach and cold calling – methods where you are working on getting in front of your target audience.

outbound marketing

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, works to attract customers to you through content they are already searching for.

inbound marketing

How Does Inbound Marketing Work?

Inbound marketing is a highly effective marketing strategy because it works to attract the right type of traffic to your business – people who are actively looking for your solution to their problem. 

With inbound marketing, the pressure is off when it comes to being noticed online. They are already looking for the solutions you have to offer; you just have to create content that convinces them that you’re the perfect fit for their needs.

Your inbound marketing strategy can include a variety of channels and types of content to bring customers to your website – but that’s just one part of the equation. Once they reach your site, you have to keep them engaged with compelling content and then delight them with the perfect offer and customer service experience.

Why Inbound Marketing is Important

Anyone who spends time online knows the frustrations of email spam or getting sketchy sales pitches through Instagram messages. These tired marketing methods are becoming less and less effective as consumers demand authenticity and high-value content from the brands they are vetting.

As a business owner, you can bypass these cheesy marketing tactics and create a strategy that’s built on building relationships with your potential customers. Not only are you less likely to have your account flagged for spam, but you’ll actually be working to earn their trust. Plus, you’ll be building a community of loyal customers who will stick with you for years to come (and invite their friends).

So what are the nuts and bolts that make an effective inbound marketing strategy come together into a well-oiled, lead-generating machine? We’re glad you asked.

The Inbound Marketing Flywheel

There are three key elements of inbound marketing that make up what we call the Inbound Marketing Flywheel. These are Attract, Engage, and Delight. Understanding these key components will give you a firm grasp on why inbound marketing is better than traditional outbound marketing methods (if we haven’t convinced you already).

Attract

Your first goal with inbound marketing is to have your company’s content show up as helpful information for the problem your target audience is actively trying to solve. You do this by publishing helpful content in the form of blog articles, social media posts, or ads that speak to your target audience’s needs. The better you are able to communicate how your brand aims to help your audience accomplish their goals, the more likely your audience is to convert. 

Broaden your content’s reach through paid campaigns, search engine optimization (SEO), and content marketing to help more users find your helpful solutions.

Engage

It’s one thing to publish great content that gets someone’s attention – it’s another to entice them to take action. That’s why it’s crucial that your content not only attracts but ENGAGES your audience.

The best way to do this is to provide value in a way that helps you build a relationship with your audience. You can share content that tells a story about your brand, explains how to use your products, includes testimonials from past clients, or educates your audience on a related topic. Then ask them to take action, whether that’s booking a consultation, starting a free trial, or downloading a whitepaper.

From there, you’ll want to be sure that you have a system in place for managing inbound sales, including how your sales team engages with prospects and moves them along in their buyer journey. 

Delight

Once a client signs on the dotted lines or makes that purchase, the relationship doesn’t stop there. You’ll want to do everything in your power to make sure your customers are happy and satisfied with your product or service.

Follow-up email campaigns and surveys can give customers a chance to offer feedback – all while showing them that you care about their experience, even after they’ve opened their wallets. You can also use chatbots to notify customers of new features and offers, so they are always in-the-know.

Remember, happy customers are likely to become fans who promote your brand and send new customers your way, so always handle these post-purchase interactions with care and respect!

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Inbound Marketing Strategies

What distinguishes inbound marketing from outbound marketing isn’t only the type of content you create but also the channels you use. 

So what are those super-effective inbound marketing channels? Here are the top platforms you can use to kickstart your inbound marketing strategy.

SEO

SEO uses the power of search engines (namely, Google) to drive organic traffic to your website. It works by targeting the key terms your audience is typing into the search bar to find businesses like yours.

By creating search engine optimized content, you can organically attract new customers to your site. SEO is sustainable, highly-targeted, and one of the best ways to draw in users who are ready to buy.

Content Marketing

Once you hit “publish” on your content, it can take a while for users to notice it if you don’t share it anywhere. With content marketing, you actively and strategically market your content across multiple platforms in order to get the most traction possible.

Some popular types of content marketing include guest posting on high-authority sites and sharing your content with your email list. If you are going to put time (and money) into creating valuable content, then you want it to be seen by as many people as possible so it can do the hard work for you.

Social Media Marketing

Sharing your content on social media is another popular way to get more eyes on your brand. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are some obvious choices, but there are a wide variety of other platforms to choose from.

If you’re not sure where to begin, think about where your target audience spends the most time. Then, share your content and get them to engage with your post by asking questions, encouraging them to tag a friend, or even telling them to drop a thumbs-up emoji in the comments if they found the information helpful! 

Link building is an important part of SEO. Earning links back to your website from other websites can help boost your rankings in Google and other search engines. Building links is also a good way to send some additional traffic to your site.

You can build links by reaching out to websites and requesting a backlink, submitting guest posts to other websites, or by getting featured in major publications. You can also submit your brand to industry directories or use tools like Help a Reporter Out to get publicity. 

Online Advertising

Online advertising typically refers to non-organic (i.e. paid) advertising, such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, or display advertising. When it comes to this inbound marketing channel, you are putting your money where your mouth is and paying for your content to reach a wider audience.

This can be a smart choice if you want to generate more leads fast. While other marketing channels can take a while to generate traffic organically, paid ads can get eyes on your content quickly. Just be sure to set your targeting parameters based on who your target audience is.

Marketing Automation

Although effective, manual outreach and marketing can be time-consuming. Implementing marketing automation allows you to automate previously manual tasks, so they run on autopilot – saving you time and money. (That’s what we call a win-win!)

With marketing automation, you can:

  • Schedule your social media posts for optimal posting times
  • Send automated email campaigns
  • Follow up with leads within a few seconds
  • Streamline manual tasks so your sales team can spend more time selling
  • Increase revenue by following up with prospects faster
marketing automation

Marketing automation can be used in tandem with all of the above inbound marketing channels to help you reach a broader audience in less time. It will also free up your team to focus on what matters most: closing deals and keeping your customers happy!

How to Build an Inbound Marketing Flywheel 

Once you have a solid understanding of how inbound marketing works and what makes an effective inbound marketing strategy, it’s time to bring it all together and create your own lead-generating inbound marketing flywheel.

Every business is different, so the methods and platforms you use will be suited to your target audience, business structure, and goals. 

That being said, the basic steps to creating a flywheel include:

  1. Create ideal customer personas to identify who your target audience is and where they spend time online.
  2. Conduct research into what your audience is interested in and what keywords they use to find brands like yours (see Tools section below).
  3. Create engaging content that resonates with your target audience’s goals.
  4. Share your content across your chosen inbound marketing channels.
  5. Include a clear call-to-action to entice people to take the next step.
  6. Prepare your sales team to follow up with new leads and close the deal.
  7. Delight your customers by sending them new offers and asking for their feedback.
  8. Repeat and scale until you reach your revenue goals.

The good news is that inbound marketing doesn’t have to be a completely manual process. Below are some of the best inbound marketing tools you can use to attract new customers, fast.

Best Inbound Marketing Tools to Attract New Customers

There are tons of helpful tools and inbound marketing software out there to help make launching your inbound marketing strategy a breeze. Here are the top tools we recommend to help turn your business into a lead-generating machine.

  • HubSpot CRM HubSpot offers a free customer relationship management (CRM) system and marketing automation platform to help you generate more leads, follow up with prospects, and close more deals.
  • Lucky OrangeLucky Orange is an all-in-one conversion optimization suite offering a plethora of tools to help you improve conversions, turning visitors into customers.
  • Agorapulse – A social media scheduling, curating, listening, and reporting tool that also features an amazing (and free) employee advocacy tool!
  • BuzzSumoNeed content ideas? BuzzSumo lets you discover trending topics and the best content ideas on the web to engage your audience and attract new customers.
  • Salesforce Follow up with leads, nurture prospects, gain customer feedback, and offer top-quality support with Salesforce’s all-in-one sales platform.
  • ActiveCampaignAutomate your email campaigns and track analytics to gain more customers from your email list. 

Looking for more inbound marketing tools and tips? Check out the Striventa blog to learn more about how to create a killer inbound marketing plan.

Launch Your Inbound Marketing Plan

Now the fun part – setting everything in motion! Launching an effective inbound marketing plan is pretty simple when you have the right tools and strategy in place. However, if you are new to inbound marketing – or are struggling to scale up your efforts – don’t be afraid to get some extra help. By working with an inbound marketing agency, you’ll have a team of experts on your side helping to generate more high-quality leads for your business. Let them do what they do best, so you can focus on getting your business ready for all the new leads you’re going to have coming in!

Forget the days of cold calling or chasing down leads. With inbound marketing, you’ll have a foolproof way to attract customers to you

Need help? Send us a message, and we’ll discuss what inbound marketing could do for your business. It’s time to generate leads the right way.

Download the Inbound Marketing Guide