What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing refers to the marketing strategy by small and large businesses to build a direct channel for customers to come to their digital presence and engage with their content. Specifically, inbound marketing is an alternative to outbound marketing, which involved pushing out a message to a specific audience. Outbound marketing examples are advertising, trade shows, purchasing lists, etc. These practices generate leads by putting the message into the marketplace. The biggest problem with outbound marketing is that consumers are used to it and it has lost efficiencies as a selling tool. Although it still can be effective, it’s expensive and often results in a high cost per lead.

Inbound marketing encourages prospects and customers to naturally and efficiently find a business, their content, and engage with the brand. Typically inbound marketing involves generating valuable free content that prospects and customers value. This content could be offers in the form of whitepapers, case studies, recorded webinars, video demos, educational information, etc. The idea is to publish the content online and encourage partners and other relevant websites to link to it.

Inbound marketing should be thought of as an investment that builds the foundation for a stream of future leads. One of the primary results of inbound marketing tactics is often higher rankings in the search engines. This is because more content, if done properly (SEO), attracts more links from other websites. Higher rankings for relevant keywords leads to increase in traffic and increase in leads. A recent study proved that 81% of business buyers start their quest for a solution with a general web search. (DemandGen Report, Content Preferences Study, May 2012) If a business can capture this online real estate on the search engine results page (SERP), then they’re on their way to an efficient low cost per lead.

These are the activities typically involved in a successful inbound marketing campaign:

  • Website – Developing a professional, user-friendly, and useful online presence that acts as the hub of all other activities.
  • Blogging – Posting a new 400-500 word article at least once a week that aims to share information and add value.
  • Social Media – Engaging with customers in a place they are already active and having conversations.
  • Email Marketing – Communicating in a time-tested personal way by delivering thought leadership and promotions.
  • Search Engine Optimization – Positioning online content to have the biggest impact in the search engine rankings.
  • Analytics – Measuring who is on the website and how to effectively convert them into an actionable lead.