What exactly is Inbound Marketing?

Marketing: the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Basically, marketing is what you do to making your product known to people.

Now, before talking about what is Inbound Marketing, let’s talk a little about the old fashion traditional marketing.

In traditional marketing, companies focus on finding the clients. Generally, they use interruptive and intrusive techniques like:

  • Calling everyone in the phonebook (cold-calling)
  • Newspaper, magazines and billboard ads
  • TV and Radio commercials
  • and Junk mail

In today’s age technology and the internet makes these techniques less effective and very expensive.

Caller ID blocks cold calls, you can skip TV commercials and spam filters block mass emails. You can still get results this way but they cost a lot more. Traditional marketing is interruptive and convenient for the marketer because they can push content in people’s faces whenever they want.

This quickly becomes a pain for potential clients.

What Inbound marketing does is exactly the opposite of this. Instead of the interruptive way where the marketer or salesperson had all the control, inbound marketing is about empowering the client so:

  • Instead of interrupting with television ads, they can create videos that potential customers want to watch.
  • Instead of buying ads in newspapers or magazines, they could create a business blog that people would look forward to reading
  • And instead of cold calling, they create useful content so that potential customers can contact them when they want more information

Inbound Marketing is marketing focused on getting found by clients by focusing on the client’s needs instead of the marketer’s needs.

Inbound is about sharing helpful, relevant content with the world and drawing people in — that’s why it’s called Inbound 🙂

It’s about listening to your clients so you can create marketing that they actually enjoy. Today the buyers have all the power and I bet that last time you bought something you didn’t call up a salesperson and ask them to buy? You probably just went online, did some research, read some reviews, maybe watched a video? Am I right?

What do you think? Now that you know what is Inbound Marketing, are you ready to be found by your potential buyers? Are you ready to some fair-play marketing? If the answer is yes then good, keep reading … if the answer is No … keep reading … maybe you’ll change your mind. 🙂

The best way to start is by understanding the Inbound Methodology

the inbound marketing methodologyYou’ve heard the expression: Sharing is caring. Inbound is all about creating and sharing content specifically designed to appeal to your dream clients, inbound attracts real potential clients to your business and keeps them coming back for more.

The 4 Actions of Inbound Marketing:

ATTRACT

You don’t want just anybody on your website, you want just the right people, the people who are most likely to buy your product or service. Who are the “right” people, this ideal clients? We call them Buyer Personas and they are holistic ideals of what your customers are really like, inside and out. Personas encompass the goals, challenges, pain points, as well as personal and demographic information shared among all members of that particular customer type. Your personas are the people around whom your whole business is built.

Some of the tools to attract the right users to your site are:

  • Blogging — Inbound marketing starts with blogging. A blog is the single best way to attract new visitors to your website. In order to get found by the right clients, you must create educational content that speaks to them and answers their questions.
  • SEO — Your clients begin their buying process online, usually by searching via Google to find something they have questions about. So, you need to make sure you’re appearing prominently when and where they search. To do that, you need to carefully, analytically pick keywords, optimise your pages, create content, and build links around the terms your ideal buyers are searching for.
  • Pages — Your website pages are your digital storefront. So put your best face forward! Optimise your website to appeal to your ideal buyers and transform your website into a beacon of helpful content to entice the right strangers to visit your pages.
  • Social Publishing — Successful inbound strategies are all about great content – and social publishing allows you to share that valuable information on the social web, engage with your potential clients, and put a human face on your brand. Interact on the networks where your ideal buyers spend their time.

CONVERT

Once you’ve attracted website visitors, the next step is to convert those visitors into leads/contacts (potential clients) by gathering their contact information. At the very least, you’ll need their email addresses. Contact information is the most valuable currency there is to the online marketer. So in order for your visitors to offer up that currency willingly, you need to offer them something in return! That “payment” comes in the form of content, like eBooks, infographics, templates, slides, docs or tip sheets – whatever information would be interesting and valuable to each of your personas.

Some of the tools in converting visitors to contacts include:

  • Forms — In order for visitors to become contacts, they must fill out a form and submit their information. Optimise your form to make this step of the conversion process as easy as possible.
  • Calls-to-Action — Calls-to-action are buttons or links that encourage your visitors to take action, like “Download an eBook” or “Attend a Webinar.” If you don’t have enough calls-to-action or your calls-to-action aren’t enticing enough, you won’t generate contacts.
  • Landing Pages — When a website visitor clicks on a call-to-action, they should then be sent to a landing page. A landing page is where the offer in the call-to-action is fulfilled, and where the potential client submits information that your sales team can use to begin a conversation with them. When website visitors fill out a form on a landing page for the first time, that visitor becomes a contact.
  • Contacts — Keep track of the contacts you’re converting in a centralised marketing database. Having all your data in one place helps you make sense out of every interaction you’ve had with your contacts – be it through email, a landing page, social media, or otherwise – and how to optimise your future interactions to more effectively attract, convert, close, and delight your buyer personas.

CLOSE

You’re on the right track. You’ve attracted the right visitors and converted the right ones into contacts, but now you need to transform those contacts into customers. How can you most effectively accomplish this feat? Certain marketing tools can be used at this stage to make sure you’re closing the right contacts at the right times.

Closing tools:

  • A CRM or a Customer Relationship Management system — Keep track of the details about all the contacts, companies, and deals, and easily get in touch with the right prospects at the right time. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems facilitate sales by making sure you have the right information at your fingertips to better engage with prospects across every channel (phone, email, text messages, social media, …).
  • Reporting — How do you know which marketing efforts are bringing in the best contacts? Is your sales team effectively closing those best contacts into customers? Integration with your CRM system allows you to analyse just how well your marketing and sales teams are playing together.
  • Email — What do you do if a visitor clicks on your call-to-action, fills out a landing page, or downloads your eBook, but still isn’t ready to become a customer? A series of emails focused on useful, relevant content can build trust with a prospect and help them become more ready to buy.
  • Marketing Automation — This process involves creating email marketing and contact nurturing tailored to the needs and lifecycle stage of each contact. For example, if a visitor downloaded an eBook on a certain topic from you in the past, you might want to send that contact a series of related emails. But if they follow you on Twitter and visited certain pages on your website, you might want to change the messaging to reflect those different interests.

DELIGHT

The Inbound way is all about providing remarkable content to our users, whether they be visitors, contacts, or existing customers. Just because someone has already written you a check doesn’t mean you can forget about them! Inbound companies continue to engage with, delight, and (hopefully) upsell their current customer base into happy promoters of the organisations and products they love.

Tools used to delight customers include:

  • Surveys — The best way to figure out what your users want is by asking them. Use feedback and surveys to ensure you’re providing customers with what they’re looking for.
  • Smart Calls-to-Action — These present different users with offers that change based on buyer persona and lifecycle stage.
  • Smart Text — Provide your existing customers with remarkable content tailored to their interests and challenges. Help them achieve their own goals, as well as introduce new products and features that might be of interest to them.
  • Social Monitoring — Keep track of the social conversations that matter to you most. Listen out for your customers’ questions, comments, likes, and dislikes — and reach out to them with relevant content.

In a nutshell this is pretty much it … but remember that inbound marketing doesn’t just happen, you do it.

And you do it using tools and applications that help you create and deliver content that will appeal to precisely the right people (your buyer personas) in the right places (channels) at just the right times (lifecycle stages).

when to publishThis tools and applications are your website and your marketing platform of choice with the website being at the core of everything therefore it needs to look the part, and not just act the part. Here are some tips for making your website look better: Creative Webdesign Rules

Pluto’s marketing platform of choice is Hubspot.

Following our own advice, at the bottom of this post you’ll find a Call To Action that will lead you to a Landing page from which you’ll be able to download the eBook on internet marketing put together by Hubspot that goes even deeper into inbound marketing and the inbound methodology.

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