Inbound Marketing, what does it mean, how does it help you and how can you put it into practice so you can increase your sales?
If you work in marketing you’ve probably heard this term many times. But if the descriptions and explanations you’ve come across so far have seemed vague and incomplete, you’ve come to the right place because in this article we want to shed some light.
We explain simply and concretely what inbound marketing is and how you can implement the principles behind it so that you can increase your sales more easily and sustainably.
Inbound Marketing is a term coined by Hubspot in 2006 that has since become a specialization in itself for marketers large and small.
Here’s what you’re about to learn from this article:
- What is inbound marketing
- What is the difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing
- What methodology does inbound marketing use
- Inbound marketing techniques that work in 2022
If you’re ready, let’s get started.
What is inbound marketing
Inbound marketing is a business method that engages customers by creating valuable content and personalized experiences. Moreover, inbound marketing creates strong connections with consumers/customers and solves more problems.
By creating content that answers questions your potential customers have, or helps them solve a problem, they will naturally become familiar with your brand and eventually buy from you.
Before we move on, we need to talk a bit about content marketing because the definitions are similar.
Content marketing is a method focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content that attracts and retains an audience, and aims to ultimately lead to sales…
Instead of trying to promote our products or services to our target audience, instead of trying to buy their attention, content marketing proposes to earn it.
Basically, the difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing is that inbound marketing comes with a methodology that shows more clearly how a person gets from the stage of discovering you to buying from you. This concept/name is promoted by the folks at HubSpot, a company that has created a useful tool for this approach in marketing.
I wrote about it in this article as well.
What is the difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing?
Outbound marketing refers to traditional marketing methods where we try to interrupt customers to show them our advertisements or messages. Outbound marketing activities include calls and emails sent “cold” (i.e. to people who have not heard of us before), paid advertisements on various websites and platforms. In short, pretty much anything that interrupts the potential customer from what they were doing to bring them to our website.
Sounds annoying, I know.
Why is outbound marketing not the most effective approach to marketing?
Let’s be honest: we all hate ads. We change our schedules when the ones on TV come on, we use adblockers for the ones on the web, and we don’t even notice the printed ones. Literally!
When we’re more on our phones than on the road, who’s going to notice the street ads?
And the numbers back it up. Only 31% of marketers still find offline promotional channels effective. 86% of consumers avoid TV ads. What’s more, our brains have come to automatically avoid areas where ads are displayed on websites!
So what can a business do today to attract customers and get them to buy?
Enter content marketing, or inbound marketing.
Differences between inbound and outbound marketing
Inbound Marketing Methodology
Inbound Marketing Methodology refers to a method of growing your company by creating strong, long-lasting relationships with consumers, prospects and customers and talks about valuing and encouraging these people to achieve their goals at every stage of their journey with you.
Stages of Inbound Marketing Methodology
The 4 stages proposed by Hubspot are:
Attract, Convert, Close, Delight.
But at unosoft we added 4 more because we realized they were incomplete, and I can tell you from experience that the methodology we’ve arrived at now works even better.
Let’s take them one at a time to see what each means.
In the first phase we should talk about the customer profile, and this stage is omitted by most although this profile is the starting point.
When you start creating content you start researching who your client is, and what this person you want to write for looks like.
Why is this step important?
Because once you’ve visualized it and realized the challenges it presents, it will be much easier to come up with content that meets its needs.
So, before anything else, make sure you’ve created this profile.
I’ve written more here about the types of customers and how to spot the most profitable ones.
This is also where the keyword research part comes in. If you want to know who your customers are, what they’re looking for, what questions or challenges they have look for keywords so you know how to answer them with your content strategy.
Learn more about how to find those keywords that are best suited to customers who are interested in your product or service here.
Content can be anything from e-books, to support materials, to blog posts or articles. Even a FAQ page because that can have a much bigger impact than an article.
Creating a content strategy must start with the customer and the customer journey.
But let’s see what this customer journey or buyer journey is.
The customer journey refers to all the steps a potential customer goes through, from everyday life, to the moment of awareness of a problem/want/need, to the point of buying from us and even becoming a loyal customer.
And this customer journey goes through several stages which you can see in the picture below.
Let’s take a concrete example:
You want to go for a run so you get your favorite sneakers (everyday life), but you realize that one of them has a broken sole (awareness of the problem), so you think about what you can do to fix the problem (contact with possible solutions).
You start visiting several websites selling sneakers (contact with possible products or services), you see a pair you like because it meets all your requirements (decision on a supplier) and you buy them.
You wear the sneakers for running for two weeks and you are happy with your decision because they are very comfortable so you decide to buy another pair (loyalty), and when you meet your best friend you recommend him to buy them for you (recommendation).
This is the customer journey, and the content needs to be tailored according to each stage the customer is at, the aim being for them to glide from one stage to the next until they reach the decision to buy.
If you want to learn more about what content works for each stage, and the whole process of creating content that sells, we’ve created a course specifically for that.
We teach you everything you need to know about how to promote your business and attract new customers without interrupting people with ads or spending more and more money on marketing, so take a look.
Well, only after you have gone through the above steps you can start creating content.
Your goal is that through the content you make you give definitive answers to the questions your customers have. In other words, you need to make sure that the person reading your content doesn’t have to visit a second page if we’re talking about an article, for example.
I hope that by the end of this article you will be clear about everything and won’t have to search for more information 😀
Also, your content should help them even if they don’t buy from you in the first instance because, remember, you’re in this business for the long haul. If people consistently get value from you, eventually the sales will come.
The third criterion you need to keep in mind is honesty and objectivity. No one wants to be fooled, so when making content be as honest and objective as possible. Don’t promise the world if you can’t deliver.
This stage is about attracting people with relevant, accurate content at the right time, when they are looking for it and need it.
For example, you Googled inbound marketing because you needed to know more about the term, and that search brought you to this article where we answer the questions you had. And this is what the first stage looks like, the attraction stage.
When you’re at this stage it’s important to know who you’re making content for and who needs it.
Who are the right people for this content to reach?
Those who answer the following questions:
Who is the ideal customer?
Who do you want to buy your product?
In this article I wrote more about types of customers and how to get the most profitable ones to discover them.
Attracting these people requires creating a relevant content strategy that should move people to the next level in the conversion process.
The main ways you can attract these people are: blog content (by the way, here’s more on how to make your blog successful in 2022), social media (via written or video posts, live events), using keywords and optimizing your web pages.
Once you get past the first stage, the goal is to convert these people into leads, and that means getting the contacts of those who visit your site or interact with the content you create, but as in life, before you ask you must give.
That’s why quality content is valuable. Because it will make people willingly want to give you their contact information.
This form of content refers to e-books, materials that people can download, webinars, etc.
The most important tools through which you can do this are:
- CTAs (Calls To Action) such as: If you like this article and want to receive more relevant marketing information weekly, sign up for the unosoft newsletter
- Sample webinar landing pages where people can sign up with their email address
- Tracking of contacts with different applications/programs
The third step is about turning leads into happy customers. If you’ve heard the phrase closing the leads that’s exactly what it refers to.
You can do this by:
- Qualifying leads. This means that leads are categorized and prioritized based on several pieces of information, such as the customer’s profile (where they are from, what company they are from, what their job title is) and their actions (whether they opened the email, visited the website or downloaded an e-book, etc).
- Email Marketing about which I wrote a complete guide here.
This step is about continuing the relationship with customers after they have bought your product.
By maintaining a good relationship with customers even after the purchase you create more sales opportunities not only for them, but also for those who have heard about your company from existing customers.
You can do this by creating engagement on social media, targeted CTAs, shortest response time to questions they have, etc.
Although it’s the last stage in inbound marketing, it’s not the last because it’s only by analyzing the data that you can figure out the results you’ve achieved with your content.
What gets measured can be improved, so at the end make sure you take the time to see what worked and what didn’t.
In the case of articles we can talk about the number of visitors or what is the average time these visitors spent per article. On social media you see what the reach or engagement is, which pieces of content worked better and why.
Put all your findings together and keep track of them in the future.
8 inbound marketing tactics that work in 2022
We’ve seen so far what this term means and what methodology it works by.
Now let’s see what you can do practically and applied and what are the best methods to get you sales.
Create free webinars
A 2020 study shows that users are much more open to providing their contact information when they want to sign up for a free webinar. 35% spend between 30 and 60 minutes on the webinar, and 33% spend between 20 and 30 minutes.
On the other hand, 74% of respondents spend 10 minutes or less when watching a video of interest.
So webinars are one of the most effective ways to provide value to consumers and attract new leads that you can then convert into customers.
As with any format, quality content that educates and brings value is most effective. There’s no point doing a webinar where you’re not teaching registrants anything.
Start a blog
If you already have your own business, we advise you to start working on a blog now.
It can help you increase the visibility of your business, build a community around it and establish a lasting relationship with your customers.
Expanding your business’ online presence is also a great opportunity to bring people to your site and convert them into customers.
Read this article and find out how you can create a successful blog from scratch
Communicate on Social Media
I hope you’re already doing this, and if not, just think that in Romania alone 12.57 million people have a Facebook account.
Social Media platforms are the ideal way to get your services out there quickly and easily, but more importantly, to build relationships with potential customers.
So use them to get your name out there, keep in touch with customers and improve your product or service.
These offers also need to be thought through in terms of the customer journey we discussed above. If they are in the early stages of their journey then it’s good to find an extremely good offer that makes them feel they are not risking anything by buying your product.
On the other hand, customers who are already loyal to you deserve an offer just for them because it shows your appreciation for them and encourages them to keep buying.
Start a YouTube channel
Doesn’t it seem like every time you want to look something up or want to learn how to do something you search Google and Youtube?
Video is king right now, so plan to start a YouTube channel where you make content relevant to your audience. Through these videos you get your company’s name out there, your services and offer help to people when they need it.
I wrote a full article on how you can start this channel and how you can monetize it.
Create free content
As much and as diverse as possible. Whether we’re talking about articles, e-books, offering a site analysis or an article about trends or statistics. This content is a very effective way to provide value and attract new leads when it can be downloaded by entering an email address.
And by the way, you can find all our free materials here. On this page you’ll find all the resources you need to grow your business. We regularly update this section with the latest guides, templates and ebooks to promote your business effectively.
Create effective email campaigns
Many say email marketing doesn’t work anymore.
We say email marketing done wrong doesn’t work.
This communication channel is the most intimate and where you can communicate most personally.
Why do I say that?
Because people HAVE chosen to enter your database, which means they are interested in what you have to communicate to them.
That’s why an email marketing strategy can be the one that gets you the most sales.
If you want to find out how to make a textbook marketing strategy we have the perfect hackbook for you which you can read more about here.
Use free tools
When we talk about tools, we mean various online programs that can make your life easier and with which you can bring in more leads or optimize the user experience for better results
Here are some examples:
You can think of HubSpot as that place where you have all the relevant customer data and around which you have various marketing, sales, support and management tools for all the channels you use.
So if you have a business and you’re already doing these things, but with different tools, HubSpot gives you all of these tools in one place.
I’ve written more about Hubspot here because we’re one of the few official partners in Romania.
Hotjar is a tool that gives you extremely valuable information about where user attention is going on your site. With this tool you can see what jumps out first, which part of your landing page is most viewed, and it gives you data that you can then optimize to create more attractive pages that bring more results.
With this tool you can turn static content into more interactive and engaging content that takes the form of quizzes, polls or question forms. All you have to do is enter the text, choose the format, and the tool will generate it automatically.
There’s a tool like this for absolutely every need you have, so do some research and see which tool suits you best.
Here’s what you should be left with after reading this article:
- Inbound marketing is perhaps the most effective way to reach your audience and convert them into customers
- Create content that adds value
- Don’t ignore your customers after you’ve seen your bags in the wagon. Create as strong and personal a relationship with them as possible because that can exponentially bring you more customers
- Know your audience as well as you can and learn how to make content for them