Inbound marketing is a way for companies to connect with and influence customers in a way that builds trust and fosters long-term relationships. It helps marketers create a customer experience that attracts prospects and increases visibility in a way that people don't feel ‘sold’ to.
A core element of inbound marketing is content. You may have heard the term ‘content is king’, but in the case of inbound, it really is.
What this means is that quality trumps quantity and that’s what marketers should prioritize in their inbound marketing strategy. But there’s a lot more to inbound marketing than simply creating great content.
Industries that are highly regulated, costly, or require information and guidance to help people through a process can benefit from inbound marketing. These industries include healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, recruitment, and education.
In this blog, we look at what inbound marketing is, how it compares to outbound marketing, how to create an inbound marketing strategy, and examine great examples to give you an idea of what works.
Inbound marketing is a strategic approach that focuses on creating valuable content and experiences tailored to the needs of your audience to build long-term relationships.
The key to inbound marketing is that it provides solutions to the needs of your customers. By doing that you can build lasting relationships and cultivate brand advocates.
Marketers across industries are likely to use outbound and inbound marketing strategies to engage and convert leads. But what are the differences between them?
The advantage of inbound marketing is that it attracts people that are actively looking for the service or product you provide.
For example, if a user types ‘lightweight touch screen laptop’ and you sell that product, then inbound marketing will help you to be visible to that person.
There are a few reasons you might choose an inbound marketing strategy:
The great thing about outbound marketing is that it guarantees your brand will be seen and is a great way to attract an audience. Many of the channels are also tried and tested and trusted by an audience.
There are a few reasons to use outbound marketing:
Now that you understand the fundamentals and reasons to use an inbound marketing approach let’s look at how to create an inbound methodology to build lasting relationships with your customers or clients.
An inbound methodology can be applied in three ways:
Each way uses different content to engage and convert.
The definition of an inbound marketing funnel uses a few key terms ToFu, MoFu and BoFu. These translate as top of the funnel, middle of the funnel and bottom of the funnel to coin the customer journey at different stages and your relationship with them.
The illustration below shows the different tools and content types used to attract, engage and delight people at different stages.
HubSpot created a Flywheel model that shows the momentum you can get by prioritizing and delivering exceptional customer experience. You can spin and build momentum in your flywheel by using strategies that acquire and retain customers — forces for your flywheel.
Anything that slows your flywheel is friction. Often the biggest friction sources can come in the handoffs between teams, so alignment and communication are key to keeping your flywheel spinning.
Two effective channels to use for your inbound strategy are social media and email. Let’s look at ways these two channels can help you to drive engagement and conversions with personalized and targeted content.
Social media aligns with the inbound methodology and provides a channel that can promote content to your prospects and learn more about how to engage with them. Using social media you can:
Develop or tweak your social media strategy to drive brand awareness and ROI if you don’t already have one in place.
Inbound email marketing is focused on using email to engage with people that have already shown an interest in your brand or product/service. This could be through a sign-up, download, or taking up of an offer such as a free trial.
According to Statista, the number of email users is set to rise to nearly 4.6 billion by 2025 with marketers reporting an increase in email. The ROI of email is also impressive at $36 for every $1 spent.
There are different types of email you can use to drive engagement with a lead. Let’s look at the four most popular.
When a contact signs up for a newsletter or offer that requires onboarding, it’s important to send them a welcome or onboarding email. This will put your brand in front of them within minutes of them expressing interest and tell them what to expect.
This example below from SaaS company scheduling company, MindBody shows an email that welcomes a customer and tells them the options available to improve their approach to wellness. It also links to their Instagram account at the end.
When a user adds a product to a cart and then abandons it for some reason, it can be effective to follow up with an email that reminds them of their intention and prompts them to complete the transaction.
Online women’s clothing company Le Tote uses clean imagery alongside clever and simple copy to re-engage a prospect, including ‘it’s about to expire’ in the follow-on copy drives urgency and the CTA simply says ‘Start Renting Today’.
Check out our blog ‘Reduce Your Shopping Cart Abandonment Rates’ to get some tips and tricks in that area.
Discounts or exclusive offers can re-engage contacts that have not been active on your site or engaging with your brand. This example from the Google Store taps into the summer season and offers a range of deals on devices with a simple ‘Shop Now’ as the CTA.
To promote yourself as an industry leader, an email that focuses on your sector and is relevant to your audience can drive click-through. This could be a link to a blog or a landing page for a downloadable asset that can not only engage but capture more details about a prospect.
This example from Fiverr focuses on trends for small businesses with a short description in the text and a CTA that drives people to the needs index. Think about what assets you could create or even repurpose to drive email engagement.
Think about creating an article on upcoming trends like ours - 'The Next Big Digital Marketing Trends in 2022' - to help drive traffic and set yourself up as an industry leader.
So what tools should you be using for digital marketing - inbound and outbound? There is a bounty of apps to help generate leads, remarket, nurture prospects and make more sales! In this section, we’ll break them down into categories so you can find the right one for your goal.
MailChimp - MailChimp is a great tool for email marketing and can be used easily by beginners and experts alike. You can use it to develop and test email templates, manage lists, apply segmentation, and keep track of your email campaigns.
Klaviyo - Useful for personalizing emails and SMS, Klaviyo is designed to help you scale your email operations and drive segmentation based on user behavior and preferences.
Hootsuite - A complete social media management tool, Hootsuite can help you simplify your marketing, accelerate your sales, and streamline your customer service.
Buffer - Combining personalization and automation, Buffer makes it quick and easy to schedule bulk updates to the major social media networks. You can also import content from your favorite blogs, and re-share top-performing content.
Sendible - Designed for agency owners and marketers Sendible offers a share button to share content quickly and easily and provides a mobile app that gives access to powerful monitoring, engagement, analytics, and more.
Zapier - An automation powerhouse, Zapier connects to over 4,000 apps and integrates tons of applications to automate workflows.
HubSpot - Developed for inbound marketing, sales and customer service HubSpot offers a range of tools under one roof. It helps marketers create, optimize and promote content, build lead generation funnels, automate lead nurturing, and report on performance.
Ahrefs - Ahrefs is a tool designed to optimize your content creation. With a focus on SEO, the platform offers a suite of search-focused tools, including keyword and backlink analysis along with content analysis features.
Feedly - This software helps you track relevant content across the internet using Leo, Feedly's AI engine. The platform flags important insights from everywhere, including news sites, blogs, Twitter, and newsletters.
Grammarly - A useful tool for any content marketer, Grammarly uses AI to identify and search for mistakes in copy and offers replacements. It reviews spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity and engagement to help optimize your content for SERP.
Now you know the ins and outs of inbound marketing it’s time to look at some examples to get inspiration from brands and industry leaders to see how they use it in their campaigns.
A great example of inbound marketing is Cisco’s Healthcare blog which covers a range of healthcare topics posted weekly written by experts in the field. The aim is to provide relevant and expert content that informs but includes links that click through to Cisco’s portfolio of healthcare.
Patagonia is a brand with a voice. The brand is ultimately an outdoor clothing line but it has spent years speaking out about sustainability and environmental issues to attract and engage customers. In fact, it’s probably better known in the public arena for being outspoken on social issues through stories, films, and media rather than its clothing. But one serves the other as the brand has been around since 1973.
The breakfast staple Weetabix could be seen by many as boring but their recent Twitter campaign shook that perception up. Through a multi-channel campaign, Weetabix sparked debate and engagement by pairing its cereal with baked beans with the copy leading with ‘Why should bread have all the fun, when there's Weetabix?’
The post across Twitter drove engagement not only amongst Twitter users but also among other brands who responded (see Specsavers below). This created a buzz around Weetabix and drove brand engagement using an inbound approach.
Consumers today seek out information online and want to find solutions to their questions. Webinars are a great way to not only inform and educate but also drive data capture. At DMI we host regular webinars on a range of digital marketing topics to provide relevant and up-to-date information that can help enhance knowledge to drive careers. These webinars offer people around the world a way to ask questions in a live environment that can be replayed at any time providing a valuable asset. It’s a great way to attract an audience in a way that informs and delights.
Inbound marketing tactics are a way to engage with your audience in a way that builds trust and offers value. DMI’s Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing will introduce you to the fundamentals but also dive into key tactics such as content marketing, SEO, PPC, display and video ads, and strategy to help you drive traffic, leads and sales. What are you waiting for, enroll today!