What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a way for companies to connect with and influence customers in a way that builds trust and fosters long-term relationships. It helps marketers create a customer experience that attracts prospects and increases visibility in a way that people don’t feel ‘sold’ to.

A core element of inbound marketing is content. You may have heard the term ‘content is king’, but in the case of inbound, it really is.

What this means is that quality trumps quantity and that’s what marketers should prioritize in their inbound marketing strategy. But there’s a lot more to inbound marketing than simply creating great content.

Industries that are highly regulated, costly, or require information and guidance to help people through a process can benefit from inbound marketing. These industries include healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, recruitment, and education.

In this blog, we look at what inbound marketing is, how it compares to outbound marketing, how to create an inbound marketing strategy, and examine great examples to give you an idea of what works.

Inbound marketing definition

Inbound marketing is a strategic approach that focuses on creating valuable content and experiences tailored to the needs of your audience to build long-term relationships.

The key to inbound marketing is that it provides solutions to the needs of your customers. By doing that you can build lasting relationships and cultivate brand advocates.

When should you use inbound marketing?

The advantage of inbound marketing is that it attracts people that are actively looking for the service or product you provide.

For example, if a user types ‘lightweight touch screen laptop’ and you sell that product, then inbound marketing will help you to be visible to that person.

There are a few reasons you might choose an inbound marketing strategy:

  • You know your target audience – If you know who to target, inbound marketing can be a great way to draw them in. SEO is a great example of this, if you research relevant keywords you can use them on your site and blogs to attract the right people. This works if you are working in a niche industry or area such as manufacturing or mining. Read our SEO Keywords Research toolkit to see how to do it.
  • You want to engage an audience – If you’re looking to have a conversation or drive engagement, inbound marketing techniques are very effective. Polls or surveys can be great in this scenario and not only drive engagement but provide further insight into your audience. This may be helpful for anyone in, say, the healthcare industry looking to find out more about opinions on a product or for brand perception.
  • You want quality leads – With inbound, it’s quality over quantity when it comes to leads. That’s because you are using a targeted campaign to known personas. For example, if you work in the education sector and want to target people looking to gain a credential to start a career in digital marketing, create an ebook on the subject ‘Kickstarting your Digital Marketing Career’ which will provide information but also capture data for retargeting.
  • You need to measure ROI – With inbound marketing you can track and measure performance on an ongoing basis and tweak content if required. As ROI becomes more important to senior executives you need to measure campaigns to allocate budget and resources.
  • You have a long sales cycle – For many B2B businesses, a long sales cycle is the norm. Prospects, in this case, need information and guidance and videos can be useful. Consider a video series with an expert or staff member with skills in a certain area. You can measure engagement to determine efficacy.
  • Budget is low or limited – An inbound marketing campaign can be cost-effective. Blogs are also a great way to attract an audience if you know their needs and provide a solution. Remember to include keywords to get your audience there in the first place! Check out these tools and templates for creating successful blogs.

When should you use outbound marketing?

The great thing about outbound marketing is that it guarantees your brand will be seen and is a great way to attract an audience. Many of the channels are also tried and tested and trusted by an audience.

There are a few reasons to use outbound marketing:

  • You need to drive brand awareness – As we’ve said, outbound marketing helps to drive brand awareness whether that’s through a paid Facebook ad to a targeted audience or a TV advert. It guarantees eyes on your brand and can help grow your audience.
  • You are launching a new product or service – If you have a new product or service coming, you can send advance emails to your mailing list with a personalized subject line or offer.
  • You need results fast – If you need the campaign to get results quickly, paid search ads targeted at a specific audience can be highly successful. Make sure your landing page is related to the content in your ad and has engaging copy so it can help drive conversions.
  • You want to connect with a new company – Sometimes the old methods work – cold calling is a great way to make contact with a target prospect or company. It can take time but a conversation can be valuable for building connections and reaching out to solve a problem or provide a solution.
  • Your target audience is older – While TikTok may be the platform of choice for many young people, the older generation turns to radio, TV, and newspapers for their news and entertainment. According to Nielsen, people aged 50 and older spend close to six hours (ages 50-64) and more than seven hours (ages 65+) a day watching TV.
  • You want to be visible to the right people – Every brand needs to promote itself to stand out from the competition and stay front of mind. Trade shows and events offer an opportunity to have a booth or take part in a talk that helps a brand connect with the right people. For example, a food and drink expo would offer an alcoholic brand a platform to offer taste tests and raise brand awareness.

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