Inbound Marketing – What is it and how does it work? We explain the basics for successful inbound marketing and which sub-areas are important.
What is inbound marketing?
The term inbound marketing goes back to the two HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah and describes a tool for digital lead generation. The marketer provides potential customers with useful content on his website to help them first obtain information, then solve problems, and finally make a purchase decision. The visitor receives particularly valuable content in exchange for certain data.
The more relevant search engines rank the available content, the higher the likelihood that potential customers will find this content when searching online for products and services.
Throughout the process, the website collects important data and helpful details about visitor behavior. Finally, the marketer passes this information on to sales, giving them the opportunity to tailor their approach to customers.
Outbound versus Inbound
Outbound marketing comprises traditional advertising measures. They include TV and radio advertising, print media ads, online banners, and classic cold calling.
Outbound marketing is interruption marketing. It interrupts its recipients and informs them very aggressively about offers that are virtually pushed on them (push). This approach is becoming less and less effective. Potential customers react to phone calls in an annoyed manner, TV viewers change the channel during commercials, Internet users no longer even notice online banners. The English-language Wikipedia has already dedicated a separate article to banner blindness.
The consequences: The number of leads generated by outbound marketing is falling, while the price per lead is rising in parallel. With inbound marketing, on the other hand, marketers set tailored incentives. These act like a magnet, as they really attract interested parties (pull). Useful content that provides valuable tips and answers pressing questions serves as a magnet.
As a result, potential customers land exactly where they want to find the information they are looking for as part of their Google search: On the website of the provider who, in addition to his services and products, also provides a lot of helpful content on relevant topics.
How does inbound marketing benefit me?
Compared to traditional methods, inbound marketing has quite a few advantages.
Because the inbound process is digital, the right software can help you see exactly which actions are generating traffic, which visitors are coming to the site and how, and where visitors can be converted to leads and ultimately customers.
Improved market presence
By using different channels – for example, a corporate blog, social media, dedicated content offers – to provide information, marketers increase their market presence.
Product and service providers are experts in their field and knowledgeable contacts when it comes to helpful tips and ways to solve specific problems. By sharing their knowledge with their customers, they increase their authority. They become valued partners
With inbound marketing, marketers and sales work hand in hand. As a result, they speed up processes and reduce friction.
Improved return on investment (ROI)
The aforementioned benefits ultimately lead to an improved return on investment for launched marketing efforts.
How does strong inbound marketing work?
How does inbound marketing work in practice? In inbound marketing, the focus is on establishing a stable relationship of trust between provider and customer as early as possible. This relationship of trust is the basis of every inbound marketing strategy. It is created by the provider standing by his customers as a helping expert who is happy to share his knowledge free of charge. So he provides useful content such as checklists, whitepapers, podcasts, videos or demos via his website. There are no limits to creativity. In doing so, the provider does not withhold any information. Why should he hide his knowledge?
There are different ways to make content accessible. While some content is immediately visible to every visitor, more in-depth information is provided in exchange for relevant data.
It is important that potential customers find exactly the content they need at that moment throughout their entire “buyer’s journey” – their decision-making process – and that this content is also helpful to them. In this way, trust is created long before the actual purchase decision is made.
So at its core, inbound marketing is always about a well thought-out content marketing strategy. In fact, inbound marketing and content marketing have some things in common. Both disciplines pursue a similar intention and the common goal of attracting the attention of potential customers through informative or entertaining content.
Nevertheless, the two terms can be distinguished from each other: content marketing does not necessarily have to aim at concretely contacting a potential customer, but rather usually serves to position a brand in the minds of potential buyers.
In contrast, inbound marketing is geared to the concretely formulated goals of the sales department. It therefore goes beyond actual content marketing and, in addition to the production and provision of useful content, also includes other disciplines such as social selling or clearly structured sales processes.
No matter what happens in inbound marketing en detail, it always involves the actual behavior of the customer. At the center of all activities is the provider’s website. This can be a newly launched site or an existing site that has been optimized specifically for inbound marketing criteria. This is the only way to reliably measure and check all inbound activities.