What is Inbound Marketing?
Instead of buying ads, buying email lists, or cold calling, inbound content marketing focuses on creating educational or professional content that pulls people toward your online properties, where they can learn more about what you sell on their own accord.
Be found by qualified leads online with content (website pages, blog articles, social messages) optimized for search and social media. Understand what content pulls your buyers through the sales funnel, and use that context to personalize your marketing at scale.
Think about it.
- Buyer: Relatively uninformed.
- Buyer Journey: Linear.
- Marketing Playbook: Interrupt (cold calls and advertising).
- Buyer: Well-informed.
- Buyer Journey: Fluid and random. Starts with Google.
- Marketing Playbook: Thought leadership through content creation.
There are three major reasons why consumers are skeptical about brands, and why interruptive advertising and cold calling aren’t nearly as effective as they once were:
The Proliferation of Media: The media landscape has become insanely cluttered. There’s a magazine, TV channel, radio station, and a gajillion websites for every conceivable interest.
A History of Deceptive Advertising: Consumers are accustomed to false claims and deceit in advertising, so even when clever ads are seen by consumers, they’re thought to be dishonest.
Technology Empowered the Consumer: Consumers gained access to tools and information that enabled them to dodge interruptive brand messages and instead seek out information when they’re ready.
This is why permission has become more affective than interruption. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you can earn permission to market to prospects that you can convert into leads, close into customers, and delight to the point they come promoters of your brand.
Let's talk about Inbound Marketing Methodology.
The inbound philosophy is backed by a methodology that helps brands attract, convert, close, and delight visitors, leads and customers through a variety of channels such as social media, blogging, SEO, landing pages, forms, and email.
The methodology facilitates the buyer journey through the sales funnel – from strangers to promoters of your brand.
Along the top of the image above are the four actions (Attract, Convert, Close, Delight) companies must take in order to obtain visitors, leads, and customers. Along the bottom are the tools companies use to accomplish these actions.
Note: Note the tools are listed under the action where they first come into play, but that’s not the only place they’re applicable! Several tools, like email, can be essential in several stages of the methodology.
STEP 1: ATTRACT STRANGERS AND TURN THEM INTO WEBSITE VISITORS.
You want to attract people that will potentially become leads. Attract your ideal customer or buyer persona by creating content that’s valuable and easy for them to find.
Tools to attract strangers to your site include:
- Social Media
- Keyword Optimization
- Site Pages
STEP 2: CONVERT WEBSITE VISITORS INTO LEADS.
Once you’ve got visitors to your site, the next step is to convert those visitors into leads by gathering their contact information. In order to get this valuable information, you need to offer something up in return (ex: e-book).
Tools to convert visitors into leads include:
- Landing Pages
- Contacts Database
STEP 3: CLOSE LEADS INTO CUSTOMERS THROUGH LEAD NURTURING.
Once you’ve attracted the right visitors and converted the right leads, you need to transform those leads into customers with targeted, automated email nurturing and social media interaction.
Tools to close leads into customers include:
- Lead Scoring
- Marketing Automation
- Closed-Loop Reporting
STEP 4: DELIGHT CUSTOMERS AND TURN THEM INTO BRAND PROMOTERS.
Using context and personalization to deliver tailored messages, continue to engage with, delight, and (hopefully) upsell your current customer base into happy promoters of your company.
Tools to delight your customers include:
- Smart Calls-to-Action
- Social Media
- Email and Marketing Automation
IN SUMMARY, INBOUND CONTENT MARKETING IS ABOUT:
- Building trust, not skepticism, among your prospects.
- Being loved, not ignored, by your customers.
- Outsmarting, not outspending, your competitors.
Use these 4 steps to achieve Inbound Marketing success!
For more inbound marketing information or help, visit the Social2B site.