New marketing trends are appearing constantly. Inbound marketing, at first glance, may seem like no exception. But this strategy has become a vital paradigm across many sectors, be it in sales, technology, non-profit, or something else. 

What is Inbound Marketing?

It is a strategy designed to help brands become more attractive so that customers come to them. 

In many ways, this way of inbound thinking is a break from the past, where customers had to ask for information about prices, product details, and more. Now, buyers can do a large portion of the buying process themselves online. 

To answer the question “what is inbound marketing,” Sales Artillery illustrates this through the example of a car. 

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Years ago, if you were looking to purchase a vehicle, you’d have to visit a dealership in person to get all the information that’s needed to make a decision. Now, however, you can find just about everything you need on the dealer’s website. You can research price points, add-ons, and availability with the click of a mouse. You can also find reviews and ask questions without having ever made contact with the dealership directly. 

Thus, the buyer’s perception of a product or service is influenced before they ever formally engage in the purchasing process. 

What is Inbound Marketing: Principles

It is a set of principles to help a company adapt to this changing situation by shifting the consumer’s relationship with the product.

To achieve this organic relationship, initiated first and foremost by the customer, the seller must adopt an inbound market strategy. This strategy is generally defined in three or four phases, typically categorized as attraction, engagement, action, and satisfaction. Many inbound thinkers visualize this process as a “flywheel” to show that energy can push or stall the process.  

Each phase must be successful to sustain momentum through the following steps:

  • Attraction: A targeted customer base is drawn to the product through relevant digital means.
  • Engagement: The process in which customers are onboarded to the product and engaged throughout the buying process.
  • Action: This is the customer’s purchase decision, including the momentum leading right up to the action.
  • Satisfaction: This is the post-purchase decision that helps the customer transform from purchaser to an advocate for the product.

What is Inbound Marketing: Strategies

Attraction

This phase is focused on bringing targeted customers who are more likely to engage the product and be satisfied with the final phase. A crucial point here is that customers typically don’t like feeling “marketed” through interruptive messages such as telemarketing calls, unsolicited emails, TV ads, and other means. This is a crucial shift in a digital age where people have more control and selectivity over what they can consume. 

Due to this situation, technology and digital tools must be continuously leveraged and evaluated at this stage. Using analytics to intelligently target a desirable customer base, for example, can be incorporated in the marketing strategy

Quality over quantity is the name of the game in the attraction strategy. 

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Engagement

After an initial attraction to the brand, the customer typically wants a seamless engagement process that empowers them to take action easily while also giving them control over their choices. 

There are specific strategies used to pull a customer in from the attraction phase to a deeper connection with the product. This may look like seamless landing pages, intuitive forms, calls-to-action, and more. Calls-to-action must be made with the customer in mind as they inform the customer what step(s) they should take next to engage. 

What compelling message is the customer seeking from the marketing they’re exposed to? Inbound marketing emphasizes value above all else as a marketing strategy. SEO, social media, blogging, and other means can increase brand awareness and attraction to bring people to you. 

Action

This is the customer’s purchase decision or action that solidifies their relationship with the company. On both the front-end for the customer and the back-end for the company, action steps should be clear, concise, and specifically designed for the customer. Expectations for a seamless, organic buying process have been established in the attraction and engagement processes, so the action steps must meet that perception.

Incorporating a customer relations management (CRM) system can enable user-friendly calls-to-action. These CRM systems help companies collect customer information and track engagement, action, and satisfaction all in one place. Basically, this management tool can track the customer’s relationship with the company. 

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Satisfaction

Companies should not end their marketing once the customer has made a purchase. From this point on, customers should be encouraged to become ambassadors of the brand by sharing their opinions, knowledge, and experience with others. 

Marketers and technology specialists should consider this situation as they engage a customer after the product by providing opportunities to submit reviews and post on social media to help those who are entering the attraction phase.

Inbound Marketing Content Types

You can create different types of content for inbound marketing, understanding that no one type works better than the other. Rather it all depends on the platform and the audience you will target. Following are some ideas of high-value content types to help create brand awareness and attract new business.

  • Videos: From product demos to explainer videos to videos for social media, this content type can be useful for creating more personalized content. Videos can create 66% more qualified leads. 
  • Blogs: With people rushing to try newer content types, a well-written, entertaining, and informative article holds immense marketing power. However, the content must serve people and solve problems rather than just focus on sales. 
  • Pillar pages and topic clusters: A page that covers almost every aspect of a particular topic. They may not provide in-depth information but answer questions at a high level. They make room for creating another article that expands the content on the pillar page or topic cluster.
  • Guides or ebooks: Downloadable ebooks or guides can be a valuable asset as they provide solutions to people's problems and are valuable to them.
  • Social Media: It is crucial to understand that people on social media would not like to follow a person/page who just talks about themselves. Your social media content must have value to other people. Also, your one-to-one conversations with the audience lure in great results. 
  • Infographics: Visual content that is easy to skim through presents complex information in an easy-to-digest manner.
  • Newsletters: Focusing on what the audience wants helps create newsletters full of engaging content.  
  • Podcasts and webinars: Although informative and educational content is most sought after, people aren't only looking for information. They also want to be entertained, and podcasts and webinars are perfect for that purpose. 

Common Problems Inbound Marketing Can Solve

Inbound marketing helps you solve problems pertaining to brand preference, awareness, preference, and return on investment. 

  • Increasing brand awareness: Up to 93% of buying cycles begin with an online search. So, you can increase your brand awareness organically by appearing at the top of search results or being active on social networks with the right content and messaging. 
  • Improving brand preference: Educate, entertain, and interact with potential customers before they make a purchase to build trust and accelerate the likelihood of their choosing you. Become a familiar face by employing inbound marketing strategies. 
  • If you have less to invest but have to generate more leads: Inbound marketing serves long-term benefits as you become more adept at curating content that attracts organic leads. Begin with careful planning to spend your money wisely in the right areas.
  • Merging marketing and sales: With strong sales and marketing alignment, companies achieve a 20% annual growth rate, while poor sales and marketing alignment leads to a 4% revenue decline. Inbound marketing enables the sales and marketing teams to join forces in creating conversion-driving content.

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How Does Inbound Marketing Work?

Creating impressive content is more about commitment and ideas rather than budget. Spending money on content won't make it effective. The five simple steps will help you understand how inbound marketing works:  

Step 1: Identify Your Audience and Define Your Business Goals 

Begin by identifying your buyer personas and grasp all knowledge about them. You can't write informative content without prior knowledge of your audience.

Step 2: Provide Content for Various Stages

When you preemptively answer your customers' questions that they are likely to have at various stages of their buying journey, you bring about transformational changes. By leveraging inbound, you can create valuable content and retain customers throughout their lifecycle. 

Step 3: Pick the Right Delivery Platforms

It is crucial to determine the best way to reach out to customers. Choose from the top trending digital platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, your website, or others.

Step 4: Formulate and Execute a Content Calendar

Consistency is the key to success. So, create a schedule for producing fresh and relevant content to engage the audience. Keeping a constant stream of information that addresses your audience's questions, concerns, and pain points, builds your brand value and customer loyalty.

Step 5: Analyze and Optimize Your Inbound Marketing

Analyzing SEO rankings, published articles, and inbound links provides valuable insight into marketing campaigns' performance. Find time for weekly analysis to gauge the inbound marketing effectiveness and look for areas for improvement. 

Who Uses Inbound Marketing, and Why?

Earlier inbound marketing was seen as a fringe endeavor confined to specific industries. However, today more than 70% of marketers are using inbound marketing. It works for a variety of industries, business sizes, and initiatives.

In a nutshell, it works for all those who seek to attract, engage, and entertain customers, build relationships and turn customers into promoters along the way. 

You need not wait to see an industry-specific case study to dive into inbound marketing for your business. Instead, apply the principles in the most creative ways to reach your goals. 

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Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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