Online Marketing has seen rapid evolution over the recent years.
The search was on for finding an effective marketing method for online business which being cost effective and result oriented ultimately delights the people.
The question was big and had far reaching consequence as for the future of online business is concerned.
With blogs, social networks, SEO, Email, Comment Marketing taking the centre stage, online marketing was poised for a welcome change.
The shift in focus was clearly seen.
It was not Outbound marketing that reigned supreme; the focus shifted to Inbound Marketing.
Well, Inbound Marketing has now become the most important constituent of online marketing strategy. Gone are the days when traditional advertising and outbound marketing used to produce desired results for the e-entrepreneurs. Now you have to “earn your way in” rather than “buy, beg or bug your way through” so as to gain or drive traffic to your website.
Outbound Marketing Techniques like paid advertisements, buying email lists, issuing press releases, TV and radio Advertisements, Telemarketing, Spam, have just lost edge and are seen as sheer waste of efforts.
Whereas Inbound Marketing focuses its effort on earning the attention of customers by producing relevant and interesting content for them. The whole effort of Inbound Marketing is to (naturally) attract inbound traffic by aligning the content with your customers’ interests.
So when you follow Inbound Marketing you make dedicated efforts to come up with quality content that naturally attracts people to your website whom you can then convert, close, and delight over time.
The term was first coined by Brian Halligan of HubSpot in the year 2005. It is synonymous with the term “permission” marketing used by Seth Godin.
Inbound Marketing brings into reality a whole new business model with its focus on building a relationship with prospects and customers alike. It raises the level of engagement and the trust factor with your audience at large.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Well, basically Inbound Marketing involves the process of “earning” the attention or interest of your visitors and customers. You make efforts to “earn” the interest of your visitors and customers instead of trying to “buy” it. In Inbound Marketing, you basically create targeted content so as to answer basic questions and needs of your customers and then follow it up by sharing that content far and wide. Inbound Marketing includes every such channel which helps to gain or earn visitors attention.
Some of the common channels involved in Inbound Marketing include SEO, Social Media Networks, Blogs, Email Marketing, Social Bookmarking, Forums, Comment Marketing, Infographics and every other form of Content Marketing.
So when you do Inbound Marketing, you actually promote and advertise your company through various channels such as blogs, social media, SEO, whitepapers, e-newsletters, e-books, videos, etc. In a way, Inbound Marketing is a multi-channel marketing technique.
All these efforts help to create brand awareness among your customers. People tend to recognize and associate with your brand. Inbound Marketing is instrumental in providing the right information to your customers and that too at the right time thus fostering brand awareness and helping to build their interest over time. In Inbound Marketing, you focus your efforts to deliver the right content, at the right place and at the right time to your target audience. So your marketing becomes helpful and relevant to your customers.
There is an element of Personalization involved in Inbound Marketing, which helps to build up the relationship with your customers. As you learn more about your leads, you can personalize the marketing campaign according to their specific needs. So, this form of Marketing is regarded as one of the most effective ways of transforming prospects into customers.
Methodology of Inbound Marketing – The Four Marketing Actions
Typically Inbound Marketing involves following of four marketing actions. A successful Inbound Marketing Campaign achieves the following results:
- It is able to attract strangers and make them visitors,
- It is able to convert visitors into leads,
- It is able to close the leads and transform them into customers,
- It is able to delight the customers and transform them into promoters.
So you see there is a whole lot of art and technique involved in the practice of Inbound Marketing. You need to create outstanding, unique and useful content so as to attract the strangers. Come up with remarkable landing pages that can generate leads and design engaging email campaigns that result in customers.
Inbound Marketing helps to attract the “right traffic” to your site. With the right traffic for your site, you increase your chances of getting more leads, and ultimately succeed in getting more customers. Some of the most common practices followed for getting the right traffic to your site include blogging, using social media, keyword research, optimizing your website and many other techniques, as well.
Once you are successful in attracting the right traffic to your site, you need to convert those visitors into leads. For this, you need to have their contact information which can even include their email addresses. You are required to offer your visitors free, interesting and valuable content in the form of e-books, tip sheets or whitepapers. Some of the tools that can help you in getting leads include “Calls-to Action”, Landing Pages, and Forms.
With leads in place, you need to transform them into customers. You need to use the right marketing tools at this stage so that you are successful in closing the (right) leads. Email marketing and lead nurturing techniques are some of the methods you can use to close your leads.
When you have converted the leads into customers, it does not in any way mean the end of Inbound Marketing. You make sure that you continue to provide remarkable, valuable and useful content to your customers. You just don’t forget your customers and continue to engage with them. Your whole focus is on delighting your customers. Inbound Marketing ultimately transforms your customers into promoters of your company and products they adore. In the course of Inbound Marketing, you even get the opportunity to upsell to your current customers.
Some of the prominent tools used to delight your customer base include Email and Marketing Automation, Social Media as well as Smart Calls-to-Action. You present to your customers different offers, which are specifically designed to cater their lifecycle stage and match their buyer persona. Using remarkable and valuable content, you can introduce new and useful products to your customers. Further up, using social media platforms you can give real time service to your customer base.
So you see that using Inbound Marketing you can transform strangers into promoters of your products and services. Inbound Marketing makes sure that you are able to attract visitors, convert leads, close customers and finally delight promoters. The net result being a large pool of satisfied customers and a flourishing business for you.
You have to realize the fact that Inbound Marketing does not happen on its own. You have to take adequate, precise, persistent efforts to make sure that Inbound Marketing works for you and produces the desired results. Using Inbound Marketing you can target the right people, in the right places and just at the right times. Although Inbound Marketing is relatively a new methodology, but due to its immense benefits, it has quickly become popular with internet marketers and e-entrepreneurs all around the world. Using Inbound Marketing you can also craft a great success story for yourself and get an opportunity to grow your e-business by leaps and bounds.