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What is Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing as a concept is something all digital professionals should be familiar with in 2016. Whether you’re looking to increase the effectiveness of your marketing spend or you’re looking for a new approach to generate massive results in 2016, this post can help get you up to speed with the basic methodology.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound Marketing at it’s core focuses on activities that bring people in (inbound) vs. going out and pushing your way to your prospect (outbound).

Example:

Inbound Marketing – Content Marketing, SEO, Social Media, PR, Video Content etc…
Outbound Marketing – Cold Calling, TV ads, Print ads, Billboards, Tradeshows etc…

The reason why Inbound Marketing is so appealing, is that when properly applied, it represents a much greater return on investment when compared to outbound marketing.

So how appealing is getting Inbound Marketing right for organizations? Well, in Hubspot’s 2012 State of Inbound Marketing report, the results demonstrated that outbound dominated marketing strategies reported an average cost per lead of $346, whereas companies with an inbound dominant marketing strategies reported a 61% lower average cost per lead, at just $135. That’s a big difference, and when it comes to maximizing your marketing budget spend, it’s all about maximizing high ROI activities.

Are we saying that you should ditch your outbound marketing and replace it with inbound marketing? NO. In our opinion the best approach to a holistic marketing strategy in 2016 involves a mix of both inbound and outbound marketing (with inbound efforts dominating more of the budget utilization).

Alright, let’s now dive in and talk about the methodology, cover the 4 stages of Inbound Marketing and then get into an example of what each one of those stages look like in action!

The Methodology

Within inbound marketing there’s a few major themes that come up pretty often:

Buyer Persona

A big part of the Inbound Marketing process is developing persona’s of your ideal client. Who is it that you want your content to speak to? What are their issues and pain points? How can you help them and what should you say? Spending the time upfront and developing these persona’s will help lay the foundation for a killer inbound marketing strategy.

Content Creation + Distribution

Everything revolves around creating great content for that buyer persona, showcasing thought leadership and answering your real questions your prospects have. It’s all about giving value before you get a dime in return.

Lifecycle Marketing

Inbound Marketing looks at the entire life cycle of the customer. Even after the sale is done it focuses on turning these customers into promoters that will rave about your company. Your brand promoters start off as strangers, visitors, contacts, and customers. From there, you work to delight your customers through specific marketing actions to transform those initial strangers into promoters.

Multi-channel

Inbound marketing isn’t specific to one marketing channel. The main thing is focuses on is earning your prospects attention as opposed to shoving your marketing message in their face. It approaches people where they are, in the channel where they want to interact with you and presents them value in an unobtrusive way.

Analytics & ROI

This is a big part of the Inbound Marketing methodology and what power tools like Hubspot look to do. Your Inbound Marketing campaign should run like a well oiled machine, with different parts all working together and in the end the output should be visible and measurable. Well setup analytics will help bridge the gap between marketing and sales and allow an organization to make better decisions. The ideal analytics setup should drill down deep enough that you know where a customer came from, what’s the first thing they did to get in contact with your company, what happened throughout their journey, and when they closed.

The 4 Stages

Let’s start by discussing the 4 parts of the Inbound Marketing methodology. There’s 4 parts to the Inbound Marketing Methodology. Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight. Here’ a neat graphic put together by the folks at Hubspot.

This is an awesome visualization of what Inbound Marketing entails. There’s 4 distinctly separate phases in the buyers journey and depending on which one they’re in, there are different tools used to help push them along.

Now, Inbound Marketings doesn’t take away from the results generated through outbound marketing efforts but rather argues that there are more efficient ways to reach the modern consumer. In a nutshell the four phases that a client goes through are:

Attract – “Hey, I got a problem and this blog post seems to be talking about it. Let me read.”
Convert – “Cool, there’s a free ebook that I can download as well? Sure, here’s my email.”
Close – “Thanks for reaching out. Yes I am interested but have some questions.”
Delight – “Wow, it’s my birthday and they sent me a personalized gift!”

4 Stages of Inbound in Action – Meet Amanda

In order to make this even easier to digest, let’s use an easy to understand example and put it through the 4 stages.

She’s a marketing director working for ACME. Amanda has a problem, she has a mandate to increase her companies revenue from digital marketing but doesn’t understand the digital space too well. What does she do?

Stage 1 – Attract

Amanda begins her search by going to Google and typing in queries like “Best way to increase leads”, “Best ROI digital Channels” and a few others. She’s searching and searching and then comes across a blog post by Alpha Marketing that speaks directly to her as a marketing director. It discusses how other companies were able to generate massive success through something called Inbound Marketing. This is her first time coming across Alpha Marketing.

What sort of things can you do to attract?

1. Start blogging
2. Get active on social media
3. Optimize your content
4. Get featured on prominent blogs
5. Answer questions in forums
6. Optimize your webpages

Stage 2 – Convert

She reads through a few more blog posts from Alpha Marketing that talk about Inbound Marketing and how to apply it within her organization. She becomes more and more interested and as she goes through the blog posts she notices a cool Inbound Marketing goal setting template that she can apply to her department’s goals. Best of all, it’s free. She happily gives her email in return for the template.

What sort of things can you do at this stage?

1. Clear Calls-to-Action
2. Conversion Optimized Landing Pages
3. Contact Tracking

Stage 3- Close

Alpha Marketing delivers the ebook she requested to her email inbox and then sends her a few more tips through email that are super personalized. They also ask her if she had any questions and would like to have one of their specialists audit her departments digital marketing at no cost, she jumps on the opportunity and says yes. After a couple of conversations she discovers there’s plenty of holes in her marketing that she didn’t know about before and that Alpha Marketing has a plan to get her department to where it should be. They go over pricing and terms and she jumps on the opportunity to become a client.

What sort of things can you do at this stage?

1. Marketing Automation
2. Email Auto Responders
3. Closed-Loop Reporting

Stage 4 – Delight

Alpha Marketing sends Amanda a nice little welcome package that included a box of chocolates and personalized card, along with an email to see if there’s anything else they can do to help her throughout her on-boarding. After 6 months of awesome results, they ask her if she wants to become a case study on their popular blog. They told her that they would promote the post across all their social channels and link back to Amanda’s company site as well. The post goes live and she actually receives a lead from the exposure. They also highlight her effort within the case study and make her look like a superstar. She’s ecstatic at this point and loves working with Alpha Marketing.

She now becomes a promoter of their brand and pats her self on the back for making the right choice

What sort of things can you do at this stage?

Work on ways to delight your customer through personalized account management and customer service. Let them know that you value their business and go above and beyond to WOW your customer.
1. Client satisfaction surveys
2. Touch base with your client often
3. Be proactive give them value wherever you can
4. Send them a gift on their 6 month and 1 year anniversary with your company

We hope that helped you get a better understanding of the Inbound Marketing methodology and perhaps even sparked some ideas in your mind of things you can do to implement inbound marketing within your organization. Stay tuned for more detailed posts diving in deeper to specifics.

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