Inbound marketing has been around for a while now since Hubspot CEO Brian Halligan coined the term many years back (though it existed long before that too under different fragmented informal terms) , but has really picked up pace in the last few years with the biggest of conglomerates like Tatas to even the smallest of start-ups relying on it to attract potential customers & grow their business.
Inbound marketing has become quite a rage in recent times spawning thousands of digital marketing gurus & marketing firms dedicated to running & tweaking inbound marketing campaigns.
What is INBOUND MARKETING?
We live in a word of information abundance and attention scarcity – and the pace of information creation is accelerating.
According to IBM, we now create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.
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Guy Kawasaki famously said
“If you have more money than brains you should focus on outbound marketing. If you have more brains than money, you should focus on inbound marketing.”
Inbound marketing is a strategy that utilizes many forms of pull marketing – content marketing, blogs, events, SEO, social media and more – to create brand awareness and attract new business.
In contrast to outbound marketing, where marketers attempt to find customers, inbound marketing earns the attention of customers and makes the company easy to be found.
To better understand inbound marketing concept one must revisit the concept of push and pull marketing.
The primary difference between push and pull marketing lies in how consumers are approached.
In push marketing, the idea is to promote products by pushing them onto people. For push marketing, consider sales displays at your grocery store.
On the other hand, in pull marketing, the idea is to establish a loyal following and draw consumers to the products.
Examples are Porsche and Lamborghini, which no longer need to exhaustive advertisement, as consumers come to them.
To see the concept in more detail, the goal of pull marketing is to get the customers to come to you, hence the term pull, where marketers are attempting to pull customers in.
Common sales tactics used for pull marketing include mass media promotions, word-of-mouth referrals and advertised sales promotions.
From a business perspective, pull marketing attempts to create brand loyalty and keep customers coming back, whereas push marketing is more concerned with short-term sales.
Coming back to our topic at hand inbound marketing, it draws similarities with pull marketing strategy.
Here also the primary task for the marketer is to create relevant and engaging content for a company so as to increase the customer engagement.
Buyers today are more empowered. The web provides them with instant information gratification.
They can access detailed specs, pricing, and reviews about goods and services 24/7 with a few flicks of their thumbs.
Meanwhile, social media encourages them to share and compare, while mobile devices add a wherever/whenever dimension to every aspect of the experience.
Joshua Gill, Inbound & SEO Marketing Consultant, Inbound Authority quoted,
“Inbound Marketing is so powerful because you have the power to give the searcher/consumer exactly what answers they are looking for at the precise point that they need it. That builds trust, reputation, and authority in whatever niche you are practicing this form of marketing in.”
“Inbound marketing can’t be segmented into separate categories, with each section holding independent power. While we rely on SEO to draw in visitors from organic search, that SEO doesn’t work if there’s no content. Without social media, blogs don’t reach new, interested people. And SEO, content, and social media are all completely useless without a lead generation process in place.”
So coming on to the types of inbound marketing, there is no thumb rule for it. It is a ripple effect caused by the collective power of different types of effort which finally culminates into seeking attention of the consumer.
Most successful inbound marketing campaigns incorporate all or parts of the following elements:
Search engine optimization is an integral part of effective inbound marketing. Using effective keyword analysis, well-structured site design and other SEO “best practices” to launch your company to the top of search results will ensure that your content is being seen by the right audience and bring in the right leads.
By far the most common form of inbound marketing, blogging can play a powerful role in driving traffic and nurturing leads.
3. Social Media
With 67% of online adults using social media to share information, you can’t afford to neglect widely popular online communities such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Apart from this, there are other social media platforms which can be used as per the requirements of the company.
4. Live Events and Webinars
Take inbound marketing to the next level with online webinars and live events.
And there’s much more: Videos, whitepapers, eBooks, enewsletters, public speaking… Any opportunity to share valuable content is an opportunity to practice inbound marketing.
In short the marketers must know where the consumer’s eyeballs are, and target those mediums effectively.
THE INBOUND MARKETING METHODOLOGY
We want to attract the right strangers (your target persona) to your website and to your brand with quality, compelling content that answers the questions they have. We’ll use blogging, social media, keyword and SEO strategy, and even outbound advertising to do this.
With optimized landing pages, forms, and compelling calls-to-action we’ll convert these visitors into qualified leads. Contact information is the most valuable currency there is to the online marketer so we’ll give them premium content in exchange for it. This includes eBooks, whitepapers, infographics, webinars, case studies, and tips sheets.
With the help of tools like lead scoring, closed-loop reporting, lead nurturing, and vast lead intelligence, paired with lead follow up best practices and sales tactics, you’ll then work to transform those leads into new business.
This sometimes overlooked component of inbound marketing can be your secret weapon in ensuring referrals and renewals. Once someone becomes a customer, you don’t want to forget about them, and you’ll continue to publish and share content that helps them better use your product or services and delight them as a partner and thought leader.
INBOUND MARKETING – THE KICKSTARTER FOR YOUR SME AND STARTUPS
Ritesh Singh is Co-founder and MD at ARM Worldwide, quoted,
The biggest task of a performance marketer is to look for potential customers. By publishing useful and accurate content and optimising it according to your buyer persona, the potential customers arrive at your website.
Inbound marketing is an effective means of marketing which can be implied by agencies, SMEs, and startups for the promotion of any brand, product or an individual. In any startup, it is essential to reach out to your potential users; you want people to know about you and your products/services.
The real struggle for any SME or startup is how they become a part of any discussion. Therefore, inbound marketing is an efficient way of marketing especially for the SMEs and startups as they lack big marketing budgets initially.
Inbound marketing focuses on the long-term relationship between the consumer and business. The main idea is capture leads with high interest and or need, know content consumption journey of your prospect well and sales team/ solutions team should be well informed to be able to give right solution and help both client & his/her own business.
Apart from attracting, converting, closing, delight is a very important area to work on – improve customer- business relations, and as a result, it improves brand’s credibility, sales, reach and helps in creating an affinity. Also, inbound gives an easier measure of your marketing performance to determinate the efforts that need to be improved of other business functions that are not performing.
By following the route of inbound marketing, interested people generate the traffic on the website. They are the actual people who are interested in your content. The retention rate in inbound marketing is more as compared to outbound marketing as only the potential customer makes an effort of filling up a subscription form.
Inbound marketing uses quality content with the help of SEO and SMO to drive traffic to the website. It can be an e-book, guide, tutorial or any content that helps to attract a consumer’s attention and fulfil their requirement.
Ready to hit the “Go” button on your campaign?
To give a detailed perspective into this, here is an example of Help Scout, a B2B customer service software company.
Help Scout is a B2B customer service software company that was founded in 2005, but with considerable competition from the likes of Zendesk, Help Scout soon realized that they would have to pull out all the stops in order to make it.
Back in April 2013, Help Scout were growing by 10% month-on-month, and grew leads by 678% from August 2012 to February 2013. In 2014, Helps Scout proudly announced that its 50 blog posts had brought it nearly 2 million users that year.
To date they’re closing in on 3,00,000 unique visitors this month and 3,000 paying customers.
All their blog content is centred on helping customers to build a company people love. Content is at the centre of all our marketing efforts and it’s what’s fuels the acquisition funnel.
So how did they do it?
Help Scout focuses on giving their customers content with a kick. Content that’s outside the norm of their industry – content that is often data driven, always written in great detail, and that’s invaluable to their customers. For example: Using Data To Build A Happy High-Performance Support Team and Gmail Fails for Customer Support.They outline their approach to inbound marketing in their The 25 Principles that Power Our Company Blog post.
In our fast-paced society where the Internet and social networking shape our daily decisions, customers are exposed to more information than ever. This phenomenon is not only making them more educated, but also is causing a change in buying behaviours. As a result, B2B and B2C marketing efforts must be adjusted to respond to this shift.
Today’s businesses are realizing that outbound efforts alone are not enough to produce profits. Instead, inbound marketing techniques need to be utilized in order to attract more leads and foster better brand preference. To be successful in inbound marketing, businesses need to introduce a disciplined approach to content creation, introduce marketing automation tools that can help them nurture and score leads, and optimize how these leads flow through the sales pipeline.