How does inbound marketing work?

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Inbound marketing is one of the latest additions to what seems to be an endless stream of marketing trends and buzz word. But could it be that for once, the hype is actually worth it?!

We think so.

Digital marketing can sometimes feel a bit like that little Nokia 3310 snake, constantly chasing the apple whilst trying to avoid hitting its own tail. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, get back to Tik Tok. There’s an ever-growing list of jargon and new strategies emerging, making it hard to choose which fruit is worth the fight… and snakes get tired too you know.

However, if there’s one thing you need to understand in order to boost your marketing results in 2020, it’s inbound marketing.

What exactly is inbound marketing? And why is it worth your time and focus?

Well, if sitting back with a cool beer, chilled wine or perfectly brewed coffee while watching leads come to your website – without the hassle of cold calling and (shudder) door knocking – sounds like a sweet deal, then inbound marketing is going to be your new favourite drink. And you’re going to want to take a big swig!

Like any successful marketing concept, inbound marketing is about engaging potential customers. So what sets it apart? Unlike outbound marketing, which interrupts your audience with content they may not want, at a time when they haven’t asked for it (remember those awful pop up ads??), inbound marketing is instead focussed on using personalised creative and valuable content. Not only is the content relevant, it is also delivered in a way that allows them to engage with your brand at a time and place that suits them.  

It might feel lazy to take this approach… allowing your customers to find you, rather than you going to them. And it might feel counterintuitive – after all, how are you going to get your product in front of customers if you’re not advertising everywhere, all the time?

News flash – it’s not about you!

What is the difference between inbound marketing and outbound marketing?

Outbound marketing is full of far reaching strategies that bombard huge audiences, rather than targeting specific customers. Do we even need to ask how many times you’ve tuned out from those loud and repetitive ads in between segments your favourite trash tv show?

Inbound marketing flips this approach on its head – with content that is subtle, engaging and provides genuine value to customers, rather than simple sales messages. Think about Netflix versus Free to Air TV. Netflix gives you the variety of TV shows and movies you can choose to watch based on your tastes. Free to air bombards you with advertisements and programs you may have little interest in, at a time that they’ve chosen. And even when they do manage to show that movie you’ve been hanging to see… it’s inevitably on at a completely inconvenient time.

So, inbound equals Netflix, outbound equals Free to Air. Starting to get the picture?

It’s no coincidence that Netflix grew by over 120 million subscribers in less than five years… and inbound marketing strategies look to follow a similar growth trend.

inbound marketing work, The Marketing GP

So, what does inbound marketing actually involve?

Inbound marketing is like secret sauce – it’s not a question of whether it should go in the fridge or cupboard for best saucing techniques, you’ve just got to have it! (It goes in the cupboard by the way).

Inbound marketing is a method of attracting, engaging and delighting people in order to grow trust, and sales (because let’s face it, that’s what we’re all here for). It’s an effective way to serve your customers and to have them come back for more. It’s tied to content creation – which is where that value comes in. By creating and distributing meaningful and useful content, such as blog and social media posts, infographics or email newsletters, it brings your target customers to your website.

Now, I want to pause and reiterate something… ALL content needs to be useful and meaningful. This isn’t a case of throwing it all at the wall and seeing what sticks.

Let’s go back to our Netflix example. When you use Netflix, you get to choose what you want to watch based on your personal tastes. Netflix then recommends movies and TV shows based on what you’re already interested in – hey we even received a message the other day personally from Ryan Reynolds recommending a Netflix show that he was conveniently in – thanks Ryan!

Inbound marketing is like secret sauce

Search engine optimisation, or SEO, is a term thrown around in all aspects of business and marketing. If you’re still not 100 per cent sure on what SEO is, we’ll give you a little refresher.

Search engine optimisation involves setting up your website and its content to be found quickly and easily on internet search engines like Google or Yahoo. Ever wondered why your competitor’s business gets listed before your own when searching for your business name on Google?

The answer – well executed SEO.

Putting SEO practices into place on your website will benefit your business… and organic search is free! But you need to know what you’re doing to up your ranking.

To improve your SEO, your business should:

  • Maintain an up-to-date website and landing pages.
  • Write blogs with content targeted to specific keywords and customers.
  • Use your meta-data description and title tag to focus on the keywords your customers are searching to find services/products like yours.

These are simple and quick ways to improve your SEO in a matter of hours. Some other key tips include:

  • Ensure your website is fully mobile responsive, looking its best on both PC and phone layout. As 60 per cent of searches are completed on mobile phones, it’s important to make sure your website is accessible on all platforms.
  • Make sure your website loads as quickly as possible, as this too can affect where your website ranks in search results.
  • If your business is featured on a credible website such as a news site with a link to your site, search engines call this a ‘backlink’ and use it to assign authority to your website. Make connections and get your business online! The more authentic backlinks, the more likely your website will be ranked high for relevant keywords.

Outbound marketing often uses cold calls and telemarketing to gain customer information. Seriously, how do those telemarketers always seem to know when you’re in the middle of dinner?!

Inbound marketing instead focuses on offering customers information and solutions in exchange for contact details, through the use of lead magnets.

A lead magnet is an important inbound marketing tool. According to HubSpot it generates leads by offering long-form resources in exchange for a prospect’s contact information. These resources usually consist of PDF brochures or e-books containing information that is valuable to your customers, and are considered a fair trade for their valuable email.

By using lead magnets, your business creates a marketing funnel of key contact details from customers wanting to engage with your business.

This means you can continue to market other aspects of your business to them through EDMs and blogs.

Free to air TV fails to offer you more information on their programs, disregarding the (almost always incorrect) television guide. When Netflix advertises their service, interested customers can follow links that gives a full list of titles they offer. This entices customers to pay for a subscription. Netflix can then use your customer details to market new programs and films you may be interested in.

Just like Netflix, your business wants to engage customers with the service you’re offering and entice them with further information. A lead magnet consists of a simple exchange of contact details for more information. This creates a marketing funnel for your business to use for relevant email content.

Using lead magnets on your website is beneficial to both customers and your business. Customers can request more information at their discretion and your business gains a contact to market the information to!

This simple, win-win strategy is a vital aspect of inbound marketing.

It’s nearly impossible to be a business in 2020 without a presence one social media platform. Whether you’re a small business owner, or the CEO of a national conglomerate, socials are vital to a business’ success and customer satisfaction.

While your business may have social media accounts, you have to understand whether or not they’re being used appropriately. Social media is an excellent, easy way to channel customers to your website with well-tailored content.

If you aren’t using social media to its full potential, perhaps you’re a little more Free to Air than Netflix at the moment? So, how can your business be like Netflix?

When using social sites like Instagram, make sure you’re using everything it offers. This includes uploading photos to the feed, content for Instagram stories, reposting tagged images and answering your direct messages. Using all aspects of each social sites means you have the furthest reach with your customer base.

Another important feature for all of your social media sites is adding links to your posts. Much like a lead magnet, links allow customers to find more information on social content.

Whether it’s an image on Instagram, a post on Facebook or an article on Twitter or LinkedIn. When appropriate, include an easy to click on link that will take customers to your website. This way, customers who are interested in your social content can go searching for more information on their own terms.

Just like when Netflix tease us with the trailer for a new season of Brooklyn 99 on their social sites. We know you’re going to click on the link they include to find out when it will be released.

Using social media to its full potential and including links that offer information is a key strategy to inbound marketing.

If you aren’t already, it’s time for your business to get social!

Be like Netflix

So, in case it hasn’t sunk in yet.. in a fading world of Free to Air TV, we encourage you to be like Netflix.

Put in the hard yards to create an effective inbound marketing system that brings people to your website and keep an eye on who they are. This will help you create more content that is useful to them and take them along an effective buying experience that leads to transactions.

The Marketing GP implement inbound marketing tools and strategies for many of our clients.

We use a sophisticated software called HubSpot, which essentially allows us to map out buyer experiences based on user profiles and personalise information, providing what they want, when they want it, in a way they are most likely to engage with.

It helps build trust, reliability and a positive customer experience – while also generating the leads and revenue your business needs to reach its true potential.

What more could you want?!

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Holly Martin
Holly Martin
With over 17 years of hands-on experience in marketing, our Managing Director & Chief Marketer, Holly Martin, has worked with an amazing variety of businesses. Her strengths lie in her ability to see the entire playing field for our many diverse clients.
Want to learn more about what we can do for your next project?

If any or all of what we’ve touched on here speaks to your marketing needs, schedule a video chat with our Chief Marketer, Holly Martin. We guarantee The Marketing GP ticks every box as the comprehensive outsourced marketing partner your business needs.