In Digital Marketing, Inbound marketing basically means attracting potential customers to your brand through high-quality content. The reason it is so effective is that this content will be posted in a place users naturally go to, the internet and more specifically, social media.
Once people realize the value of your content, prospects are more than likely to start trusting you, buy your product/service and ultimately become promoters of your brand.
What’s the difference with traditional marketing?
When doing outbound – or traditional – marketing, you reach out to people who don’t want to be reached using channels such as emails, phone calls, flyers, etc. This technique is more aggressive and expensive, but less efficient.
It’s pretty easy now to avoid spam thanks to caller ID, ad blocker, ads-free premium option, anti-marketing filters…making it much harder to reach someone.
Outbound marketing requires a lot of time, energy and money. On the other hand, anyone from startups to big companies can perform inbound marketing. If people come to trust your brand due in large part to the valuable content you provide them with, you have to trust they will come to you when they’re ready to make a purchase.
Attract, engage and delight
HubSpot, who coined the term in 2006, describes inbound marketing as “a method of attracting, engaging, and delighting people to grow a business that provides value and builds trust.”
ATTRACT through valuable content and a great SEO, ENGAGE by listening and solving customer issues and DELIGHT by providing an unforgettable customer experience.
Inbound marketing is NOT Interruption Marketing!
Never confuse Inbound Marketing with Interruption Marketing, the later is a more aggressive form of marketing and can be a riskier option. Inbound marketing is the opposite of interruption marketing. It is made clear with a few examples:
Outbound Sales Calls
Billboards / Outdoor Ads
Not Targeted paid ads online
TV and Radio Ads
It is all about powerful content
Inbound marketing relies on your brain, that’s why it is more cost-efficient than traditional marketing. Your content needs to be helpful and engaging. Therefore, you need to create personas, so you know and understand who you are targeting.
Once you’ve determined who you’re targeting, you can start creating and you have a wide variety of content formats to choose from: webinars, blog posts, videos, articles, quizzes, infographics, eBooks, etc. The possibilities are endless, it just needs to bring value.
Let’s say you have a brand of kitchen utensils. You could create a blog post recommending five restaurants that gave you an unforgettable experience, then an interview or success story from one of your favourite chefs.
You could also have an article about how restaurants are becoming the new art-galleries, a video explaining how to use pasta-making tools, a blog post on where to eat with your feet in the sand, or a quiz to find out what kind of cuisine describes your inner persona… Doing this, you’ve never posted promotional content about your brand, but you’ve offered content that food-lovers and cooks might become addicted to or at least interested in.
That’s your target audience and they will come back for more!
If you want to be sure you have the best content, use tools such as Buzzsumo or Ahrefs to search for the best performing content around a certain subject matter. Check the subject you want to own and ask yourself, “how can I top that?”
It is also about being found
Of course, for inbound marketing to work, you need content to be visible and accessible to all. So, you’ll need to work on your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). By including the right keywords, you will rank higher in organic search results and therefore increase your visibility.
SEO and quality content go hand in hand, so one is useless without the other. According to Forbes, 93% of those on the internet never go past the first search page of Google. That is why it is crucial to appear on the first page.
Today, your company’s biggest assets are no longer the pretty buildings nor the endless cash flow; it’s all about the number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers you have, links to your website, and your rank on Google.
Have a positive impact on their business
The content you offer shouldn’t be promotional. People should realize the value of your product or service on their own. If people like your content, they’ll come back frequently to check it out. And who knows? Maybe they’ll even fall in love with your brand.
Don’t you have a brand that you just love, that you always buy from even if you know you could find cheaper elsewhere? I know I do.
Give your potential buyers insight and advice, show them your expertise, listen to their needs and the right prospects that are a good fit for your business will be right there. Inbound marketing works because it is easier to build relationships with potential buyers when they don’t feel like you are trying to sell them something.
Inbound marketing, a long-term strategy
Truth be told, you might feel like inbound marketing isn’t working at first but that’s only because it is a long-term strategy. It’s an investment for yourself and your company. You do not rent a billboard for a month or buy some radio time, these are traditional marketing methods.
Instead, you create a library of blog posts, articles, videos which will grow in value over time. And what you do today can bring you business tomorrow or in a year
Have people fall in love with your content and your brand
Kleenex posted a moving video of a man and his dog companion going through the same hardships. Not once during this video was there explicit publicity for the brand. It was just about telling a story and inspiring.
Even so, they got more than 606,000 views on Facebook! Kleenex wasn’t desperately trying to sell you their product, they told you a story, you liked it, you saw it was created by Kleenex, it’s on your mind and maybe next time you go buy tissues, you’ll choose Kleenex.
That’s the ultimate goal of the inbound methodology: bringing strangers to become your next customers. Maybe one day, they’ll even promote your business on their own. Give it a try!