What the heck is inbound marketing?
Believe it or not, I get asked this question a lot. Here’s the short answer: people are looking for you online, so inbound marketing helps you attract customers – not interrupt them.
How? Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product/service. You align the content you publish with your customer’s interest, and that naturally attracts them to you.
HubSpot, which became the de-facto inbound marketing software service in 2006, says this: By publishing the right content in the right place at the right time, your marketing becomes relevant and helpful to your customers, not interruptive. Now that’s marketing people can love.
Great content drives search, search generates traffic, traffic yields readers, readers become leads, and leads fuel customers who become customers who buy.
Inbound marketing uses four primary marketing actions (the inbound marketing methodology):
Attract: Turn strangers into visitors with tools like blogging, keywords, social media, and optimized web pages. You want to be a beacon of helpful content to entice people to visit your site, but you don’t want just any traffic – you want the people who are likely to become leads and, ultimately, happy customers.
Convert: After you get the visitor to your website, your next step is to convert those visitors into leads by gathering their contact information. Some important tools here include calls-to-action, landing pages, forms, and a marketing database to keep track of these leads.
Close: This is where you start to transform leads into customers. Closing tools include lead scoring, email, marketing automation, and closed-loop reporting.
Delight: Inbound is all about providing great content for you users, including people who’ve already paid you at some point. Keeping everyone delighted is key here. Tools used to delight customers include smart calls-to-action, social media, and email and marketing automation.
The biggest mistake businesses make is to think customers will request information right off the bat. When a customer is learning about a product or service, they’re taking the steps necessary to learn why your product or service is the one they should buy.
Would you propose to someone on the first date? That’s all kinds of weird. Your date is just getting to know you, and they’re not going to commit to someone they just met.
It’s the same for your website visitors. You need to nurture the visitors while they’re learning. If the only call-to-action you have on your website is a Contact Us button on every page, you’re asking leads to get a little too serious & too soon.
Content performs best when relevance and timeliness are met.
One of the best pieces of advice about content comes from Kaaren Whitney-Vernon for Adweek, who says,
“Engaging content should tell what products stand for, not what they do.”
We’ll cover more about content in another article, but if you leave this thinking one thing about inbound marketing, think this: original content. Marketers can’t differentiate their brand or be innovators if they’re sharing other people’s stuff!
Need help getting started with inbound marketing – or understanding it in the first place? I’m your huckleberry!