Do you think an inbound marketing strategy is important for you and your business? Continue reading this complete guide, created to help you design an effective strategy! To jump ahead, click on the following links…
- What is inbound marketing?
- Content Marketing vs Inbound Marketing
- The difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing
- How marketing and sales link in inbound marketing
- Building an inbound marketing campaign
- What is HubSpot?
- How inbound marketing boosts lead generation
- How does inbound increase online sales?
So, what is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is a methodology used to attract and retain customers through engaging and relevant content that addresses their pain points. It is used to encourage new customers to come to your business, instead of interrupting them through more traditional marketing techniques. The content is placed in front of them when the time is right, helping to build trust as your prospects and customers are at the heart of everything you do.
Whether it be a blog post, a video or an ebook, the aim with inbound is to not create content that is simply all about your business, instead, it should be informative and add value to your target audience. This will place you as a thought leader and prospects will be drawn to you for insight, increasing the chances of selling your product or service.
In inbound marketing, there are four main stages: Attract, Convert, Close and Delight. Firstly, before even creating content for each stage, you will need to create buyer personas: a semi-fictional representation of your target audience formed from real data and some educated guesses of behaviour patterns. Doing so will help you stand in the shoes of your customer and tailor content to truly meet their needs.
Once a lead becomes a customer, your efforts should not stop there. You should aim to retain them by still producing content that got them engaged in the first place.
Want to find out more about how an inbound marketing agency can help you kick-start your strategy?
The difference between content marketing and inbound marketing
So, you may be wondering what is the difference between inbound and content marketing. Is one more effective than the other? These strategies are not interchangeable and we're going to tell you why…
According to The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) content marketing is: “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience.”
According to HubSpot inbound marketing is: “attracting customers through relevant and helpful content and adding value at every stage in your customers’ buying journey. Potential customers find you through blogs, search engines and social media.”
One main similarity is that with both approaches, content is at the heart of everything, it is the driving force of both strategies. In addition, both approaches are strategic with the ultimate goal of stimulating action.
The main difference between content and inbound marketing is the way that customers are attracted. Inbound focuses on attracting the right customers at a time that suits them, whereas content can be considered more interruptive and focuses on brand awareness. Another difference is that inbound marketing is more focused on hitting lead generation targets. And another differentiator is the range of tactics and tools used within each approach. Content marketing can consist of any number or types of material, whereas inbound marketing follows a structure that drives prospects down a funnel to generate marketing and sales-qualified leads using workflows and gated content.
The difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing
What is outbound marketing?
It is a traditional method of marketing seeking to interrupt potential customers. It includes a range of methods such as email blasts, cold calling, outsourced telemarketing and advertising. These are known as “outbound” marketing methods because they push a message out far and wide to everyone, as opposed to honing in on a specific audience with needs linked to your specific service offering. The cost of outbound marketing tends to be much higher and the ROI much lower than inbound marketing.
As technology has changed, so has the way we market our products and services. Traditional advertising channels don’t quite cut it anymore, and that’s why inbound marketing solely relies on the internet and social media.
The main difference between the two is communication. Outbound marketing is a one-way conversation with the audience – the business mostly just promotes its brand, giving no opportunity for people to interact.
On the contrary, with inbound marketing, prospects can engage with your brand: whether that be sending an email, leaving a comment on a blog or social media post, or leaving a review on a third-party site. Communicating with your prospective customers is crucial for a successful marketing strategy: it’s all about transparency, engagement and honesty.
Outbound marketing is an interruptive strategy, as opposed to inbound marketing which draws visitors in, increasing brand exposure and brand authority through the creation of valuable content. The aim of inbound marketing is to draw interested people toward the marketing materials and attract them to your business with valuable and relevant information. Outbound marketing uses push tactics like cold calling, PPC advertising and door-to-door salesmen.
How marketing and sales link in inbound marketing
There are over 3.5 billion searches every day on search engines, many of these being questions such as “how do I…?” or “where is the best pub near me…?” Both marketing and sales teams need to play an equal role when it comes to customer acquisition, with their job addressing the customer’s problem/query by putting content at the end of those searches.
It's important that the inbound team create engaging content for every stage of the buyer's journey including:
- Awareness: The awareness stage is a customer who is becoming aware of a topic of problem and is wanting to learn more.
- Consideration: A customer in the consideration stage has identified the problem, but is researching various solutions.
- Decision: A customer in the decision stage is ready to make a decision on a solution.
Inbound marketers are then able to gain insight into each prospect’s unique needs, pain points and priorities by analysing what content and which stage they’re interacting with the most. This information will then get passed on to sales so that the sales team have a greater understanding of prospective clients. This exchange of information is essential so that sales don’t waste time trying to sell to a lead in the awareness stage or to someone who is not interested.
When both teams are aligned, the marketing team will be able to help the sales team understand the qualified leads and the most valuable information relating to them.
Building an inbound marketing campaign
In a few easy steps, you can create your first inbound marketing campaign…
The first thing you need to do is create your buyer personas. This will be a representation of the audience/audiences you’re going to target throughout your campaign. You might already have one and these need refreshing, or you might want to create a new one altogether, having a specific persona in mind will help you tailor your messaging and your content to create a focused campaign across all marketing platforms.
Brainstorm a campaign idea, this session should include a diverse group of people and fresh pairs of eyes from different areas of the business. This helps to generate new ideas with different perspectives and a range of skill sets. You’ll also need to think about what content you’re going to offer. Will it be an ebook? Live event? Social media or podcasts? Make sure it’s something that your persona is going to engage with.
SMART goals are very important and help you to plan and reach your goals effectively. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely. Deadlines are also relevant in this section linking to timely SMART goals, creating a detailed schedule with deadlines for all those involved and checking on progress at different catch-ups.
What is HubSpot?
HubSpot is an up-to-date platform that allows you to easily create, distribute and report on every single aspect of inbound marketing. Most importantly, HubSpot helps you convert prospects into customers into traffic. By using the HubSpot platform you’re able to nurture potential customers with content that is useful, valuable and addresses the customer’s pain points.
Hubspot offers a range of fantastic tools that allow users to create timely and quality content. Some of the software they provide includes:
- Marketing automation
- SEO tools
- Sales automation
- Email sequences
- Video creation
One other feature is HubSpot’s blogging platform which is optimised at most steps to ensure you get the most amount of traffic. When creating a blog post, HubSpot’s platform will prompt you to add CTAs, meta descriptions and keywords.
There is also the option to schedule social media posts, with recommended times to post to boost reach, impressions and click-throughs.
How inbound marketing boosts lead generation
Inbound methodology is focused on converting traffic into qualified leads, taking place after the awareness and consideration stage of the user journey. The visitor becomes a lead once they show an interest in something your business is offering, whether that be an ebook or a checklist.
Content is at the heart of all lead generation processes, so once buyer personas have been created you can create content to suit and target them. Content comes in many forms such as video, podcasts, social media, email newsletters, ebooks or guides. Depending on your target audience may influence the type of content that you will create. One thing they should have in common though is a strong CTA and data capture form to gather more information and guide customers along the user journey.
Scoring your leads is important once they begin engaging with your business. Inbound marketing automation software helps you filter your leads based on how engaged they are with your content, allowing you to see when a prospect becomes a marketing-qualified lead and then a sales-qualified lead. Understanding who is ready to buy, and when, increases your sales team’s chances of actually closing a sale.
How does inbound increase online sales?
Essentially to increase online sales with inbound, you need to fine-tune your lead generation process so that your team can focus on hot leads instead of cold ones. Buyer personas and content are crucial to do this, by finding out exactly who your target audience is and creating content to directly target them, answering their pain points and offering a solution, nurturing them throughout their journey.
Lead scoring is crucial to make sure your prospects are a good fit before they become marketing-qualified leads and then sales-qualified leads. Within this process, you’ll be able to see what pages your potential customers have visited, how long they stay on these pages, which blogs engage them and which ebooks they have downloaded, so there is no cold selling. This ensures you have plenty of information about a customer and puts teams in a great position to open up conversations where their expertise can be showcased. By asking the right questions and enabling your lead to say ‘yes’, you feed their desire to complete the sale. The following lead generation tactics will help speed a sale along by encouraging buyers to come to their own conclusion:
- Questions - Ask relevant questions to clarify your leads perspective e.g. “how do you feel about your current supplier?”
- Reflection - Paraphrase back a statement to show understanding and help reinforce the message that’s been delivered.
- Positive reinforcement - Positive words of encouragement can help your lead articulate their thoughts. Expand on why you agree and avoid just saying “yes” or “exactly!”.
- Clarification - Ask open questions to make sure there is no confusion e.g. “so how will that help you?”
- Remembering - Demonstrate that you’ve retained information about your lead, from their name to their pain points. This shows that you’ve heard and understood them.
- Summarisation - Repeat the buyer’s key points back to them to help organise your thoughts and correct anything that’s been misinterpreted.
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