Chances are you’ve heard of Inbound Marketing before. It’s a trendy term in the marketing world, but what exactly is it and what should you know about it? Should you be incorporating it in your marketing plans? We’re here to answer these questions and more in this series about the ins and outs of inbound. Let’s get started.
What is Inbound Marketing?
The inbound marketing methodology is becoming an increasingly popular one because of its effectiveness at meeting customers where they are in their buying process and speaking to their specific questions and needs. While the more traditional outbound marketing focuses on dispersing your brand’s messaging to potential customers via tactics like traditional advertising and sales-focused content and hoping that it resonates with potential customers, inbound marketing centers around attracting, engaging, and converting your desired prospects and leads through rich search engine optimized content that answers questions and solves problems the customer already has.
Furthermore, as the prospect makes their way past the awareness phase of the marketing funnel, the inbound methodology nurtures their interest in your brand by providing them with high-value, gated content offers followed by strategic email nurturing sequences that incite them to make an informed decision when choosing your product or service, and that continue to foster strong and positive relationships between your brand and your customers well past the decision phase.
But inbound isn’t focused on content only, even though it is a huge part of a well-rounded inbound strategy. The inbound methodology also ensures that the customer’s journey through every touchpoint with your brand is optimized, ensuring that their experience is smooth and that barriers to conversion are minimized. In fact, a high-quality and thorough Inbound Marketing strategy can increase customers’ engagement with your brand and can lead to significantly higher conversion rates (10x) than outbound marketing methodologies. Inbound leads also cost about 61% less than outbound leads.
How does Inbound Marketing work?
Because inbound marketing primarily focuses on bringing people to your website, which is where all your rich content lives, search engine optimization (SEO) is a cornerstone in the inbound marketing toolkit. Engage in thorough keyword research so that you can understand the key questions your audience is searching for and come up with a content plan that answers those questions. You’ll also want to spend some time doing deep research into your audience, identifying and exploring their interests, behavioral patterns, key needs, and common traits. This will help you target your inbound content to the most receptive audiences and establish your brand as a thought leader in your niche.
Once you have your website performance and experience locked down and you have a solid, SEO-driven, audience-minded content plan in place, you can start creating your content and figuring out the ways you want it to reach your targeted audience. Because you did your keyword research, you should eventually start seeing upticks in your organic website traffic (which, by the way, is one of the most important benefits of inbound), but you can also rely on other channels to get your content out into the world.
Social media is a fantastic way to build brand awareness and “tease” longer form content on your website, so be sure to create a solid social media strategy to complement your larger inbound strategy. You can also use digital advertising’s robust targeting capabilities to drive high-value clicks to your website or landing page and serve up your content to prospects. You can also deliver content right into your prospects’ inboxes and keep customers engaged through a multifaceted lead nurturing email strategy. Email marketing is a great way to not only ensure that you’re delivering trust-building content to a specific audience, but it can also teach you a lot about your prospect base through its contact segmenting and tagging capabilities.
Sounds like a lot, right? The truth is that inbound does take a bit of planning and effort to set up, but the benefits are myriad. You’ll see your organic traffic increase, you’ll be able to communicate important information to the prospects that matter most and build their trust in your brand, and you’ll be able to ensure that your brand’s customer experience is standout.
Is Inbound Marketing right for everyone?
The short answer is no. The longer answer is…the inbound methodology is generally better for B2B businesses and/or B2C businesses that offer products or services that are more complex, have a high value, and require the customer to do a lot of research before making a decision. Inbound works well here because it’s content-driven approach helps build trust, clarify the intricacies of the product or service, and alleviate any uncertainties. Inbound can also work well for businesses that play in a particularly competitive space or offer a product that is unique in its niche since it allows you ample space to explain what sets you apart from the masses.
However, don’t write off inbound if your business doesn’t meet these criteria exactly. There are still individual inbound-adjacent tactics outside of a full-funnel inbound strategy that you can use, such as content marketing, SEO, or email marketing, to bolster your marketing strategy and build a great experience for and relationship with your customers.
Why is Inbound Marketing Important?
Now that we’ve gotten the what, how, and who out of the way, let’s talk a little bit about why inbound marketing is an important and effective methodology.
- Inbound marketing allows you to build relationships with customers before you even talk to them directly.
- Have you ever been given a limited time to communicate important or complex information during a presentation, and you just weren’t able to say everything you wanted to say? Or perhaps you’ve struggled over how to fit all the relevant information about your product or service into a 30 second ad spot. This is certainly frustrating. The reality is that customers looking to make a high-value purchase are more receptive to information that hits the most important high points, but also lays all the details out for them. Inbound allows you to do this using problem-solving and trust-building content. Here, you’ll have ample opportunity to show what makes your product or service the right fit for your customers. Note: It’s important to keep in mind that when we say “content,” we mean any content, whether it’s written, audio, video, images, or infographics.
- Inbound marketing responds to the way customers make purchases nowadays.
- In today’s digital zeitgeist, people spend a lot of time researching things that interest them on the internet. In fact, 53% of shoppers say that they research a product thoroughly before purchasing to ensure they’re making the best decision possible. A well-executed inbound strategy puts your brand in front of curious prospects doing their research and throws your name into their mix.
- Inbound Marketing is more authentic.
- Good-quality inbound content is actionable for the customer and provides them with insights to help solve their problem. It’s not like some forms of advertising that make promises that can’t be kept or create confusion and distraction. Therefore, your inbound content is helping you build a trusted relationship with your prospects and customers on their own terms. It effectively puts customers in the driver’s seat.
- Inbound Marketing is a long-term investment and can lighten workloads.
- We did mention that setting up a robust inbound strategy takes time, effort, and planning on the front end, but the long-term benefits make that investment worth it. It’s important to remember that you may not see immediate results from your inbound marketing efforts since search engines need time to index your new content and understand what it’s about. But, once you make it past that point, inbound content requires little maintenance. Of course, you’ll need to make updates as technologies, audiences, or competitive environments change over time, but overall, your inbound content will do its job for you long term without too much fuss. The bottom line is that once inbound content is created, it’s always there.
Inbound marketing is truly a multilayered, full-funnel marketing methodology, and if you decide to invest in it, you’ll see many benefits for your brand. It does take some time and planning to execute, but if you understand your audience, know your keywords, bring in the right contributors (internally or externally), and make a solid plan, you’ll be golden!
Keep in mind that our inbound experts here at VONT love to help clients set up and execute inbound marketing plans, so we’re here to assist when you need us. Check out this case study to learn more about how we’ve helped clients execute an inbound strategy. And, if you are just getting started with inbound, be sure to download our SEO site audit checklist to help kick off your website optimization and content creation efforts.
About VONT Performance Digital Marketing
At VONT we believe that change is the only constant in the digital world – and that excites us. When tools and environments are constantly changing, new opportunities to help our clients achieve success are constantly arising. Each new advertising technology, social platform, or design approach allows us to improve on the results we achieve for our clients.
We believe in this idea of continual fine-tuning so much that we named our company VONT, which means to achieve exponential improvement in incremental steps. It is our core belief, and the reason why we are not simply a web design company or simply a digital advertising agency, but rather a long-term, single source partner providing a comprehensive array of web development and digital marketing capabilities.