What is inbound marketing? Definition and components

Inbound marketing is a form of marketing that aims to offer people what they’re looking for instead of interrupting them with unsolicited messages. Although the ultimate purpose of this advertising method is to generate sales and increase profits, the focus is not on the promoted products, but on the customers.

In traditional (outbound) marketing, companies push their sales messages out to clients through print ads, banners and TV ads, trade shows, press releases, cold calls, direct mail and telemarketing. This approach isn’t always profitable, as the target audience represents only a small portion of the reached audience.

Inbound marketing is a more focused strategy, which creates the context for delivering the right message to the right audience. In today’s article I’ll explain what is inbound marketing and how can it help you build online authority, drive more traffic to your website and convert visitors into loyal customers and brand advocates.

What is inbound marketing?

The easiest to understand inbound marketing definition is the one formulated by HubSpot, which describes this term as the process through which one creates and distributes content online, in order to be found by their prospective clients, convert them into customers and delight them over time with quality products and services.

Inbound marketing is, on the one hand, a process that consists of different activities meant to educate people, earn their trust and turn them into loyal customers; on the other hand, it’s the process through which brands build valuable content and customized solutions that answer clients’ needs in order to establish themselves as leaders and increase their online visibility.

The main types of activities incorporated into inbound marketing campaigns include:

  1. Creating content that is relevant for your business and of interest for potential clients;
  2. Distributing the content to attract visitors to your website;
  3. Converting the visitors into leads by gathering their contact data;
  4. Nurturing the leads with persuasive content for transforming them into customers;
  5. Retaining customers and turning them into brand advocates by providing valuable content and listening to clients’ feedback.

Each of these activities has a specific business goal, and by grouping them according to their goal we obtain the inbound marketing methodology, which consists in four marketing actions:

  • Attract
  • Convert
  • Close
  • Delight

The components of inbound marketing

1. Attracting visitors

Your ultimate goal is to sale, but in order to sale you need people interested in your products and services. This means that you need to attract the right audience on your website. But in order to attract these people and drive targeted traffic, you need to know who your ideal customers are.

So the first step in attracting visitors is developing the customer profiles, or buyer personas. These profiles encompass the pain-points of your ideal clients, their needs, goals and expectations. Once you know who will buy your products, you can move on to step 2, which consists in educating these people and letting them know about your products.

The easiest way to do this is by creating content that is highly relevant for your target audience, and that addresses their specific needs. Your most valuable resources here are blogging, SEO and social media:

  • The rich and informative content you post on your blog needs to be optimized for search engines, so as to make it easy for prospective clients to come across it when Googling their questions;
  • Once you have great content, you can focus on off-site SEO to improve your online presence and rank higher for the targeted keywords;
  • At the same time, you should share your content on social media networks, so as to interact with potential prospects in real time and in a friendlier manner.

2. Converting prospects to leads

Visitors are strangers, so if you want them to buy form you, you need to earn their trust, show them that you are an expert able to answer their questions, and that your products can solve their problems. But you don’t want to push your message out to them in an aggressive manner, so you need to obtain your prospects’ permission for staying in touch and delivering content on a continuous basis.

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