An Introduction to Inbound Marketing

Aug 8, 2018 8:32:00 AM

By Cathy Cain-Blank

At times we all have problems -- business or personal -- that we need to solve.  A car with 100,000 miles that is repeatedly breaking down. The need to hire 100 employees -- quickly -- to handle growth. Frustrations with an IT provider's lack of responsiveness. 

You might ask a colleague for advice on where to turn for help. But it's more likely you'll start the problem-solving process by taking keyboard in hand and doing some research.

I just logged onto Google and typed "outgrown your IT provider" and the first search engine results page included two articles that stood out: "5 Signs You've Outgrown Your IT Solutions Company"  and "5 Must-Ask Questions When You've Outgrown Your IT Provider." If this were a problem in your business, your initial reaction would likely be, "Jackpot!" Upon reading these articles and discovering helpful content, you'd likely sign up for the email list of the companies that published the articles. You might also provide your contact information in exchange for downloading a resource with even more information on IT services.  After all, if you're going to consider changing your IT provider it isn't a decision you're likely to make overnight.  

You are now on your way to tackling your IT problem. And the two IT companies now have a prospective buyer. This means that their Inbound Marketing strategy of offering content in return for contact information is working. 

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Have you ever clicked on a link in an email or on a social media post and it led to a company’s website because you wanted to learn more about a specific issue, a recent event, or a new product? Have you ever received a series of personalized and perfectly-timed emails from a company gently guiding you towards a specific goal (sign up, renew your subscription, contact us to learn more)? The first is based on content creation and the second is a drip campaign, and while the two may sound different, both are highly effective inbound marketing techniques.

Inbound marketing is creating high-quality content that’s relevant to the audience you’d like to convince, over time, to do business with your company. As traditional advertising methods have started to fall to the wayside in the digital age, inbound marketing has proven to be a highly effective strategy. According to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report, in 2017, 68 percent of inbound marketers reported that their organization’s marketing strategy was paying off.

How Does It Differ From Outbound Marketing?

Inbound methodology provides a sharp contrast to the old outbound approach to marketing. Outbound marketing strategies focus on the business in question pushing its message out at target customers, rather than working to pique prospects' interest with content that will help bring them into the fold. Outbound marketing techniques consist of purchasing TV, radio, and print ads. It can also include cold-calling buyers as well as purchasing email lists of contacts in hopes of sending campaigns that generate leads. 

In short, outbound marketing means spending a large amount of money and effort to generate leads that may be shaky at best. A study by Demand Metric revealed that inbound marketing costs a whopping 62 percent less than traditional marketing — and it generates nearly three times as many leads. By using inbound marketing strategies, you focus only on the target demographic of your dream customer base.

Understanding Inbound Methodology

The stages of inbound methodology are Attract, Engage and Delight. These stages move individuals from the status of being total strangers to your company to being visitors to your website, to prospective leads that you turn into customers, and finally, into being promoters of your brand, product, or service.

Rather than using “salesy” tactics to shout about your new product or service to potential customers, an inbound marketing approach offers relevant content that attracts the appropriate audience to your website. Through the inbound marketing process, you’ll be able to attract visitors, convert them into leads, close them, and then focus on delighting your new customers.  

Ready to learn more? Read this post to determine if inbound marketing is right for your company
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