Inbound marketing is believing you'll attract more flies with honey than with vinegar—and more customers with helpful content than with cold pitch emails.
WHAT IS INBOUND MARKETING?
Inbound marketing is the marketing methodology that meets customers where they are, providing them with useful, beneficial content tailored to their needs.
Inbound marketing helps brands connect with customers who already have an interest in their products, though they may not yet know it. Instead of focusing on reaching out to customers, it helps draw in customers who have problems that your brand can solve.
Examples of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing works by providing high-value content on platforms your audience is already using. It might include:
- Video creation
- Social media posts
- Ebook creation
- FAQ answers
Your inbound marketing focus is on delivering content that customers can trust and rely on—content that will help them understand why to choose your brand over your competitors.
The Difference Between Inbound Marketing and Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing casts a wide net hoping to find more customers who are, or who might at some point be, interested in a specific product. It includes a lot of traditional approaches: direct mail, email marketing, cold calling, radio and television ads, or display ads. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, focuses on providing valuable content that will bring customers to you organically. While outbound marketing usually focuses primarily on raising awareness of a brand, inbound marketing focuses on providing content that customers actually want to see and interact with.
Understanding Inbound Marketing Methodology
While traditional outbound marketing often utilizes a "spray and pray" method—that is, spraying the content out to a wide range of potential customers and praying that some of them will find value in the content you've offered—inbound marketing provides genuinely beneficial content to customers. Effective inbound marketing relies on a few key features:
Answers to the Questions Customers Ask
At each stage of the buyer's journey, customers have questions. The answers to those questions will help guide them through the next step in their journey. As the brand that answers those questions, you increase the odds that customers will choose your business in the end.
It's easy to get stuck focusing on keywords and statistics when you're trying to create an inbound marketing plan. The real goal of your plan, however, is value. When you create high-value content, it helps customers trust your brand. Poor content, on the other hand, will add little value to your site and customers will leave your site as quickly as they came.
Inbound marketing is not a one-and-done proposition. Instead, it needs to focus on continuing to deliver the content your customers have come to expect from you. You need a content calendar and posting schedule that will help you stay on track and fill in the gaps in your virtual library.
How Inbound Marketing Works
Inbound marketing starts with the idea that you have a product or service that people need or want. Your business concept was likely founded on the idea that you can solve a problem that customers are having. Suppose, for example, that you offer pest control services. The problem: customers have unwanted pests in their homes. Your business aims to solve that problem.
When you create an inbound marketing plan, you will ask one key question: "What do people who have unwanted pests in their homes want to know?"
They might, for example, Google, "How can I keep ants out of my picnic?" or, "How can I keep mosquitos out of my yard?" With your post on "5 Tips for an Ant-Free Picnic" or "The Best Mosquito Spray for Summer," you position yourself as an authority on the topic of unwanted pests. If you have consistently provided answers to the questions that matter to them, you'll be the source they trust when they eventually need a professional for their termite infestation.
Inbound marketing helps you create a relationship with your customers. Through your inbound marketing efforts, you can build trust, increase awareness of your brand, and form a relationship so that when customers are ready to make a buying decision—to bring in a professional to deal with pests, for example—they'll be more likely to choose you.
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