What is Inbound Marketing?

Last updated: Jan 27, 2023
8 min read
What is Inbound Marketing?

Every business has at least one thing in common: in order to grow, businesses must take advantage of effective marketing methods to drive new leads and customers through their doors.

However, marketing has changed over time. Traditional forms of marketing that worked well in the past — like door-to-door sales, billboards, and newspaper ads — are expensive and ineffective today.

Today’s world is increasingly digital. So, if you want to get in front of your potential customers, it’s important to take part in digital marketing. One highly effective approach to doing so is a process known as inbound marketing. If deployed properly, online inbound strategies can reduce your client acquisition costs, increase your conversion rates, and help your business reach the next level.

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is the use of any marketing method that’s designed to attract customers to your brand. When you deploy inbound marketing tactics, you’re not interested in throwing a figurative blanket of advertising over a crowd of people in hopes that a few people in that crowd have a need for your products and services.  

Instead, inbound marketers pay close attention to who their audiences are and what interests they have. That way, they’re able to send messages out to specific demographics that are designed to produce strong conversion rates.

Differences Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing

Inbound marketing focuses on bringing the customer through the doors, rather than flooding a relatively unknown audience with advertising and branding materials.

For example, traditional outbound marketing strategies include things like door-to-door sales, cold calling, and postcard mailers. The marketers behind these strategies have no idea who’s on the other side of the door, on the phone, or opening the mail or what their interests are. They play a numbers game. For them, when more people see their ads, they have a better chance of producing sales.

Inbound marketing strategies put the audience and their needs first. A successful inbound marketer knows that when you understand your customer’s interests, you're more likely to draw them in and produce sales.

Inbound Marketing Methodology

There can be several channels involved in an inbound strategy. This means it’s essential that you understand the inbound methodology and deploy it across all of your marketing channels when you take this approach. This marketing methodology follows three basic steps:

  1. Attract: This is your first point of contact with your potential customer. Your goal is to produce quality ads and marketing materials that will attract your audience to your company’s ecosystem.
  2. Engage: Offer content and solutions to your audience to build your brand as a thought leader in your industry. Constantly work to keep your audience engaged with your brand.
  3. Delight: Continue to engage with your audience even after they make a purchase to create long-term loyal customers.

Steps to Deploying an Inbound Marketing Strategy

There are five steps you should take to deploy your inbound marketing strategy. Find the details of these steps below.

Step #1: Define Your Goals and Audience

Goals are important for any marketing efforts. It’s difficult to gauge your results if you don’t have goals to compare them to. Moreover, it’s important that your goals are difficult yet possible to achieve. This will help you strive for greatness without hanging a figurative carrot in front of you that you’ll never be able to catch.

Here at Belt Creative, we work with our clients to define SMART goals for their inbound marketing efforts. A SMART goal is a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goal. For example, an inbound marketing SMART goal would be to increase web traffic by 25% in the next three months.

It’s also important to define your target audience in this step. Your inbound marketing efforts will revolve around understanding and attracting your audience and building relationships with them as they enter your business ecosystem.

Take the time to research your target market and understand the different buyer personas within it. That way, you’ll be able to produce relevant content designed specifically for your audience.

Step #2: Develop a Content Strategy

Quality content is essential in all inbound marketing strategies. A successful inbound marketing campaign offers several types of valuable content across multiple marketing channels, with a focus on your target audience.

Create a content strategy based on the different channels you plan to take advantage of. Some of the most popular include:

  • Search engine optimization (SEO): An SEO strategy focuses on producing content with relevant keywords to attract customers as they use search engines.
  • PPC & CPM advertising: Pay-per-click and cost-per-mil advertising gives you the ability to place ads where your target audience is most likely to see them.
  • Blog posting: Blogs are homes for high-quality content that helps define you as a thought leader in your industry. Each blog post builds upon your leadership.
  • Video content: Create compelling video content to further engage with your audience.
  • Influencer advertising: Consider working with the social media influencers your audience is known to follow.
  • Affiliates: Create affiliate relationships with noncompetitive leaders in your industry.
  • Email marketing: Engage potential customers and existing customers with opt-in email campaigns.
  • Podcasts: Record regular podcasts to make a stronger connection with your audience.
  • Research reports: Build research reports to solidify your leadership in your industry.
  • Social media: Take advantage of social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Step #3: Use Tools to Enhance Your Inbound Marketing Campaign

You never see a roofer without a hammer. Tools are important for any job, including inbound marketing. Some inbound marketing tools you should consider adding to your toolbox include:

  • Marketing automation platform: Marketing automation platforms like HubSpot make it easy to maintain engagement with your audience.
  • Keyword planning tools: There are several keyword planning and analysis tools, such as Semrush, that can help you decide which keywords are most likely to attract the audience you’re looking for and how to embed those keywords into your content.
  • Design tools: Use design tools such as Canva to produce ads and other content that’s likely to grab your audience’s attention.
  • Content management system: Use a quality content management system such as Webflow for your website, blog, and other content.

Step #4: Create and Follow a Content and Marketing Calendar

Any successful inbound marketing strategy relies on creating valuable content. It’s a wise idea to create a content calendar that provides deadlines for things like weekly blog posts, daily social media posts, and the occasional email to make sure you maintain engagement with your audience.

Step #5: Analyze Results and Optimize Your Marketing Strategy

As your inbound marketing strategy comes to life, it’s important to analyze your results regularly. Review reports to figure out what’s working and what’s not. As you do, you’ll find opportunities to optimize your strategy and put more effort into creating content that’s more likely to nurture customer relationships.

Step #6: Consider Working With an Inbound Marketing Agency

You’re a business owner, so you’re busy. You may not have the time, or even the willingness, to climb the steep learning curve associated with this type of marketing. The good news is that you don’t have to. Consider hiring an inbound marketing agency like Belt Creative to help bring your business to the next level.

Ready to talk through what an inbound marketing strategy could look like for your business? Let’s chat.

Why You Should Use an Inbound Marketing Strategy

There are several reasons to consider deploying an inbound marketing strategy for your business. Some of the most exciting ones are outlined below.

Permanent Content Development

When you create a new blog post, video, email, or podcast, you’re not just creating something that will work for you today or for the next week. The most compelling content will work to drive sales for you permanently.

This is different from outbound marketing. After all, when you send out flyers or purchase billboard space, the flyers will eventually find their way to the trash and the billboard will be replaced as soon as you decide you don’t want to pay the bill anymore.

The only way the online content you create gets removed and becomes ineffective is if you take an active approach to remove it.

Reduce Customer Acquisition Costs

Customer acquisition costs are a focal point for all businesses. The good news is that inbound marketing is known to reduce these costs. That’s because leads from quality inbound marketing campaigns cost 61% less on average than leads from outbound campaigns. Moreover, leads from inbound campaigns are 10 times more likely to convert to sales than leads from outbound campaigns.

Get Your Sales and Marketing Efforts in Sync

It’s commonplace for marketing and sales teams to work together when it comes to inbound efforts. This offers significant value for your business. In many businesses that take the traditional outbound marketing approach, marketing teams and sales teams tend to have different goals. When their goals don’t align, their strategies likely won’t either.

When you take an inbound approach to marketing, your marketing team relies on data from your sales team to get a better understanding of your customer. This results in teams on both sides of the coin working to achieve the same goals and a more efficient overall process.

Build Brand Awareness

Every business needs to create brand awareness. Massive companies like Coca-Cola take this to the extreme by spending billions on brand awareness each year. The good news is that with a quality inbound marketing strategy, brand awareness begins to happen naturally.

After all, as you move forward with your inbound strategy, you’ll produce content that builds you as a thought leader within your industry. That means your brand becomes more and more recognizable with each inbound step you take.

Let the Pros at Belt Creative Help

Old forms of outbound marketing are outdated and ineffective. Let the pros at Belt Creative bring your marketing up to speed. When you work with Belt Creative, you won't have to deal with missed deadlines, reporting issues, or inaccurate quotes. Contact us to see what a world-class inbound marketing team can do for your business today.

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