Inbound marketing has been touted as the most effective online marketing model in the past decade. Inbound marketing focuses on creating content that pulls people toward your company and product, showing them that it is where they naturally want to be.
By aligning the content you publish with your customers' interests, you attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and reap benefits from. This is not to be confused with content marketing, which is part of the inbound marketing strategy.
What is the difference between inbound and outbound marketing?
Old-style marketing, also called outbound marketing, is simply a marketing model that encourages marketing messages to reach as wide an audience as possible. This is done through various media such as advertising, SMS blasts, and telemarketing.
Critics now cast doubt on the effectiveness of outbound marketing, which they say targets a wide audience without considering interest or the intent of the campaign's message. It can make people feel disturbed. It can also be very expensive.
On the other hand, inbound marketing is a strategy that focuses more on optimizing tactics so that the targeted audience will voluntarily get attracted to a company's product or service.
Inbound marketing attracts customers through content and interactions that are relevant, not interruptive, says HubSpot, one of the pioneers of this campaign model. It allows customers to find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media.
An inbound marketing campaign therefore prioritizes providing quality content with clear value for the target audience. The content tackles the issues or problems that the audience encounters daily while relating these to the company's product or service.
Inbound marketing has, over the years, proven to be more measurable and cost-effective than outbound marketing.
What are the elements of inbound marketing?
At least six steps are involved in inbound marketing:
You need to make sure that you understand your target audience. This is why you need to study their demographics, interests, media consumption, and overall online behavior.
Your audience is not the only subject of your research. You also need to do a competitor analysis. What marketing channels do they use? What do they focus on in comments? What is their distribution model like? Does it work? How do we do it better?
By clearly defining both inbound and outbound marketing, you can then decide on the right type and format of your content in the campaign. You can also zero in on topics and focus keywords (what your audience typically searches for in a search engine or on social media).
After determining the exact type and format of content that will fit your targeted audience, the next step is to build a suitable channel to display the content. Your research results will dictate the content that you need to put out.
Make sure that your site has everything necessary to build and fulfill your marketing objectives. These include good SEO principles and clear call-to-action points--perhaps a registration form or a button to subscribe to a weekly newsletter.
To populate the channels you’ve set up, think of creating content targeting different audience segments or audiences across the customer journey--from those who have just learned about your product or service to those who are already in the consideration stage.
Use various distribution channels to publish and promote your content. The type of channel you should use can be determined from your research results at the beginning of the process. You can also optimize native advertisement for consumer awareness.
A crucial element in inbound marketing is the ability to capture audience data. You can do this by offering subscriptions or free exclusive content in exchange for registration data, which you can then use for outbound marketing efforts or even direct sales.
The work doesn’t stop once you’ve captured the leads you set out to get. Periodically measure the performance of your inbound marketing campaigns--from portal optimization to lead capture. Why? So you can continuously see what works and what doesn't and tweak accordingly.
As in any marketing campaign, if you keep doing inbound marketing, monitoring its performance, and making adjustments based on how it’s taking you to your goals, you learn how to make it more cost-effective.