Inbound marketing is a strategy that flips traditional advertising and marketing on its head. Instead of interrupting people’s lives, inbound marketers attract them with helpful, enticing content and use their contact information to send them relevant messages.
Instead of blasting strangers with ads, inbound marketers spend time building a community of people who want to hear from them. It’s about using the right strategies at the right times so that prospects take notice and then come looking for your brand.
But what is inbound marketing?
Today, we’ll get into detail on inbound marketing and cover some of the strategies you can get started with to attract your ideal customers.
First, a little bit more about inbound marketing and how this term came about:
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is the practice of attracting a company’s best prospects, then converting them to leads and customers. It’s also known as “attraction marketing.” The term “inbound” was coined by Hubspot in 2006.
Inbound is more than just a set of tactics or strategies—at its core, it’s about changing your perspective to see everything through the eyes of the customer and delivering messages that they want to engage with.
Inbound marketing is not about sales, but traditional sales techniques are just as important as they always have been. You can work some marketing magic with inbound, but it’s not a replacement for your sales team—it’s there to support them.
What Are the Benefits of Inbound Marketing?
With inbound marketing, your focus is on meeting people where they are, listening intently to their needs, and finding the right solution for them. It helps take the pressure off your sales team, letting people learn a bit more about you before they talk to sales. (Or better yet, make the purchase themselves.)
Inbound marketing shifts the lens from product-focused tactics, such as online advertising and cold calling, to customer-focused tactics that are designed to increase the benefits of doing business with your company.
And the most amazing part? It works!
Hubspot reported that inbound marketing leads to a 267% increase in leads. Just imagine what that could do for your sales team.
You’re probably wondering: “What can I do now?”
Inbound Marketing Strategies You Can Start Right Now
Inbound marketing is not a once-and-done type of strategy. It’s the slow-and-steady process of creating relevant, compelling content that serves your audience.
Here are some strategies you can get started with right away:
Strategy #1: Start a blog.
A blog is a simple, cost-effective way to start attracting visitors.
Blog posts should answer your audience’s questions and help solve their problems. They can also educate visitors on your products and teach them to find success with your offerings.
They also give you a way to start building up a bank of valuable content that will ultimately help you rank on Google. (A blog is often the main component of what a site needs for increased search visibility.)
Combined with a great search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, you’ll be on your way to traffic that comes just from creating and promoting content. This is a more long-term strategy but can help you gain a steady source of traffic that doesn’t rely on paid ads.
Some other benefits to having a blog include:
- Getting links back to your blog (More traffic!)
- Building expertise, authority, and trust with your audience
- Positioning yourself as a thought leader in your industry
- Helping educate your audience on products and services
- Generating endless social media content for your other channels
Strategy #2: Share valuable content to your email subscribers.
Every time you send an email to your list, be sure to include a link that will take them to useful content that is of value to them.
Give them the heads up with relevant links about new blog posts or case studies that are worth reading. Share some news from your industry they might have missed. Curate content from other sources that you found helpful, especially if you think it’ll teach them something new!
This will provide a steady flow of fresh content for your audience, and they’ll also become more likely to return for more content in the future.
Strategy #3: Qualify leads: give something away, or offer low-cost info products.
You can start the process of attracting new leads with a relevant piece of content that helps them get started with your product.
Create an e-book, whitepaper, or checklist to share some tips and strategies to get started with your product. It will help build your credibility and establish you as an authority in your niche.
Not only can this help build your email list, but it can help qualify leads if you’re offering paid downloads.
When someone shows enough interest in something to make an investment (even a small one) they’re more likely to buy from you again in the future, especially if they’re satisfied with your product. (It can be sort of like a “trial” of what your company has to offer, so make it count.)
Another way to qualify leads: just ask for more information!
A lot of people won’t be willing to share more than their name and email for a download if they’re not truly interested in your product. You do want to keep these leads around so you can potentially warm them up, but these aren’t necessarily the leads you would want to pass to your sales team.
Suddenly, when you for their name, email, phone number, and some information about their business, there’s a bit of a tradeoff there: time investment.
If they’re willing to sit there and fill out all of the information (especially on mini questionnaires), they’re more likely to be interested in your products and willing to talk to your sales team.
Strategy #4: Start a podcast.
Build a community around your brand with a podcast. It’s a great way to teach, educate, entertain, and share your expertise with your audience. (Podcasting is an especially great strategy for businesses that sell educational products.)
Not everyone wants to sit down and read a blog post, but some of us are willing to put on a podcast while we’re working, commuting, or doing things around the house.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you need their complete attention. Just because you don’t have their full attention doesn’t mean they’re not retaining the information from your podcast.
It’s there, somewhere, in the back of their mind. And be continuously producing content they want to listen to, read, or watch, you’ll get on their good side!
Like blog posts, you can also break podcasts down into short, bite-sized videos or social media posts. And if you haven’t started a blog yet, there’s software on the market that can even turn your audio into full blog posts.
Strategy #5: Leverage influencer marketing.
In the age of social media, there are many influencers who have established credibility in your industry or niche. Look for ways you can engage with relevant influencers to spread your message where your target audience is hanging out most.
A great place to start is on social media. Look up influencers in your connection on social platforms and reach out to them with relevant content. Share their content, comment on their blog posts, and retweet them.
The best part of this strategy?
Suddenly, you’re not starting from zero. Even if you don’t have any social media followers, you can tap into other people’s audiences to help you establish trust and credibility.
This strategy can be especially effective if you’re targeting a competitive niche, like health and fitness, and you don’t have the budget for it. You might consider building relationships with people who are in your niche and they may be able to help you reach out to their own network of clients.
Strategy #6: Create video content (and make it easy for customers to find).
Videos are a great way to engage people and let them get to know you. It’s an easy way for prospects to learn more about what you do, but also how your product or service can help them.
Adding video content to your mix can help performance both on social media and from an SEO perspective.
Videos, in general, gain a lot more traction on social media, especially when you’re working with platforms like Facebook and Instagram. (Live video content does especially well.)
On top of that, if you decide to upload your videos to platforms like YouTube, these also have a chance of appearing in snippets at the top of the search results. Even if your written content isn’t ranking, you might be able to get some videos in! Many niches are lacking a lot of video content, making it slightly easier to get your place in the spotlight.
YouTube has its own SEO, but by being on the platform, you’re setting yourself up to rank on both YouTube and Google’s search results.
Strategy #7: Share your content on social media platforms.
Social media gives you access to millions of leads for free, but only if you’re willing to put in the effort.
Post engaging and informative content. Use tags that are relevant to your audience. (You can do hashtag research for industry-relevant tags on platforms like Display Purposes, Flick, or Keyhole. If you’re already using a scheduler like Tailwind or Later, you might have a built-in hashtag finder, as well as a way to track hashtag performance.
Make it easy for people to get started with your product. Look for ways to share useful tips and tricks. For example, explain in a blog post how your product can help prospect meet their most important goals.
Don’t forget to share a bit about your company, too!
According to Think with Google, 46% of US shoppers support businesses with shared values. Consumers are increasingly aligning their purchase decisions with companies that have ethical practices and shared beliefs.
Help make a connection with your customers by sharing that “human” side of your business. Show them what’s important to you and what values you share.
Integrate Inbound Marketing into Your Sales Process
One of the most important parts to remember is that inbound marketing is a process that’s there to help your sales team, not replace it.
Your sales team will be the ultimate judge of whether inbound marketing is benefiting the business as a whole. But it’s important to talk to them about it. Ask them to provide feedback and their opinion of the campaign.
Talk about how inbound marketing could be a way to generate qualified leads, and help them understand how inbound works together with their existing strategies.
Keep in mind that not every product or service is a fit for inbound marketing.
You’ll have to figure out whether you need to focus on getting people to your sales team to help them make a decision, or whether the product is simple enough that you can kind of fall back on your inbound marketing efforts. Chances are, you have a mix of products that fit in both of those buckets.
The best part about inbound marketing is that it’s very adaptable and fits into lots of different areas in your business: sales, customer service, PR, and more.
As technology evolves and social media platforms shift focus, you can change your strategy to find where inbound marketing most fits into your business.