What is inbound marketing?

Why inbound marketing is better than outbound marketing
If you’re running your own business or are a marketer, you’ve probably heard of the terms “inbound marketing” and “outbound marketing”. These are more than just the latest marketing buzz words they are a fundamental shift in the way marketing works.

Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

What is outbound lead generation?

Outbound marketing or interruption-based marketing refers to the scenario where you send a marketing messages, directly to your prospects. It is you, not your prospects that determines the type and timing of each interaction, hence the term interruption.Outbound lead generation is the older, therefore more traditional, marketing strategy and is considered by some to be outdated and ineffective. Some of the tools synonymous with outbound lead generation are advertising, cold calling, direct mail and other aggressive techniques that interrupt people in their daily lives.

What is inbound lead generation?

Inbound is the reverse of outbound. Inbound marketing attracts prospects to a company’s website through a combination of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC), and Social Media Marketing (SMM).  The prospect is attracted as you are discussing something that will solve their problems or make their life easier. The prospects is engaged with this relevant content (this is often called content marketing), they are then converted to an identified sales leads through the completion of forms, and then nurtured through a program of drip marketing until they are determined to be “sales ready”.

It is the individual prospect who chooses the type and timing of this interaction. Inbound is popular and successful because it reflects the way in which we have all evolved to tune out sales and marketing efforts, preferring to research products, services and solutions ourselves before contacting sales representatives.
Inbound marketing is described as permission-based marketing as you are communicating via mediums that audience has given you permission to communicate.

The Inbound Marketing Process.

The diagram below shows the 4 stages of the inbound marketing process. Listed along the bottom of the methodology are the tools companies typically use to accomplish these actions.

Attract

The prerequisite to driving quality traffic to your sites is being clear about your target audience is and what interests them. We want the people who are most likely to become leads, and, ultimately, happy customers. Knowing the pains, problems, needs, and questions of your buyer personas prepares you to create a content marketing strategy that resonates with them by solving their problems.
Buyers don't want to buy, they want you to solve their problems. Click To Tweet
Some of the common ways to draw visitors to your content online are Social Media Marketing, blogging, video marketing and email.

Convert

Once you’ve attracted your visitors to your site, the next step is to convert those visitors into leads by gathering their contact information. The best way to capture leads is by offering premium content to your viewers – this would contain similar content as your blog but slightly more advanced, and can be in the form of ebooks, whitepapers, infographics or check sheets – whatever information would be interesting and valuable to each of your personas.

Some of the most important tools in converting visitors to leads include forms, Calls-to-Action, Landing Pages, CRM.

Close

You’ve attracted the right visitors and converted the right leads, but now you need to transform those leads into customers. In the convert stage you would have obtained contact information – as a minimum their email. Email marketing is an amazing way to convert sales and has an impressive ROI.
Another important aspect of this step is to make sure your customer service is effective and simple. People will always choose companies they trust, especially after a strong connection has been established.

In the Close stage, tools like email and a CRM can be used to help sell to the right leads at the right time.

Delight

The Inbound way is all about providing remarkable content to our users, whether they be visitors, leads, 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 organizations and products they love. Tools used to delight customers include surveys, Smart Calls-to-Action, Smart Text and Social Monitoring.

Marketing Automation Companies

Marketing automation is a category of software designed for marketing departments to automate repetitive tasks and more effectively market on multiple channels online such as email, social media, websites, etc. As an example if a visitor downloaded a whitepaper on a certain topic from you in the past, you might want to send that lead 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. The ability to do this is only practically achievable with Marketing Automation software.

HubSpot is a leading inbound marketing automation solution that combines valuable tools blogging, email, analytics and lead nurturing into one integrated system. Other providers include Marketo, Oracle Eloqua and Adobe Campaign.

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