A broad definition:
When we speak of inbound marketing we refer to such activities that are designed for the express purpose of attracting visitors in rather than marketers going out into the field to attract the attention of prospects. Inbound marketing, when carried out effectively will win the attention of potential customers, ensuring that the service or product in question is easily found and making sure that the company’s website is filled with interesting, enticing content. That being said you cannot overlook how important outbound marketing is so I would also recommend using a company such as Lead Forensics to help with your outbound lead generation so that you are covering all angles.
The graphic tells it all:
A brilliant recent article on HubSpot is a great reference point for those wishing to find a clear and very detailed elucidation of the principal characteristics of inbound marketing and among what is a consistently brilliant piece a shining light is undoubtedly the below graphic.
Figure 1: Inbound Marketing Graphic (HubSpot) http://www.hubspot.com/inbound-marketing
The top four actions (Attract, Convert, Close, Delight) are the steps companies must take to attract visitors and potential customers and along the bottom we see the necessary tools to achieve these objectives. It’s a very neat visual that goes a long way to summing up the essence of inbound marketing.
What makes for successful inbound marketing?
When we look into the details of a successful inbound marketing campaign it is very hard to look much beyond the provision of excellent, relevant content. By creating great content that speaks directly to the demographic that you are looking to entice, you can begin to create an online community that will attract attention, comment and hopefully a snowballing visitorship.
Answering and addressing the need:
Great content for inbound marketing should address consumer needs by utilising, perhaps, information gleaned from monitoring searches on Google and on the company website itself. This information should be analysed, addressed and personalised. Of course the next step should be content sharing via the various social media outlets, which in turn feeds back into your loop of creating your own little community, members of which can even help you out with some free incidental inbound marketing of their own!
The opposite of outbound marketing:
It makes sense to see inbound marketing as a marketing type that only reaches potential customers at the moment that they go looking for a product or service and not before.
Let us say, for example that you are the owner of a music venue and your weekends are spent lugging around a saddle bag full of fliers that you diligently drop in likely places such as record shops, bars, student unions, under car windscreen wipers in car parks near to such places and wherever else you see a tentative link to your potential customers. This is outbound or so-called interruption marketing as you are out and about actively seeking out your leads. You are coming to them before they have the chance to come for you.
Inbound marketing is the laissez faire opposite of this. Let’s think of an example. Right, it’s a Friday evening and a group of friends are stuck for ideas of what to do. They go online on their iPad and search for “local gigs”. This search brings them to an organic listing or mobile PPC ad from your venue advertising an exciting new band playing that evening. This is inbound or non-interruptive marketing. You are giving them info that they are already seeking. Such marketing is contextual and triggered by search queries and many believe it to be the future of marketing, especially as online searching for services and products grows exponentially across mobile devices.