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Inbound Marketing: What is it & Why You Need to Invest

12 min read
Oct 7, 2021

Creating your niche can set your business up for great success. It’s the differentiating factor that sets you apart from your competition, and it’s precisely what leading martech company, Hubspot, did in 2006 when they coined the term: Inbound Marketing. The firm was so dedicated to inbound that they founded the business on the idea. 

Over the years, it wasn’t just Hubspot who fell in love with the concept; today, 74% of organisations rely on an inbound marketing strategy, and 75% state their efforts effectively achieve their goals. 

In this blog, we’re going to delve into the world of Inbound Marketing to discover what it is, how its tactics and benefits have made it so popular, and why now is the right time to invest in an inbound strategy.

 

What is Inbound Marketing? 

The term inbound marketing describes a methodology of digital marketing that harnesses the power of the internet and digital devices to change the way people interact with a company’s marketing offerings. 

At its core, inbound marketing believes that consumers are sick of being bombarded with old-school, outbound marketing tactics from marketers and salespeople. Outbound tactics essentially push out the message to consumers, interrupting their day and causing them to zone out. Instead, inbound marketing uses pull marketing techniques to attract consumers toward a business and nurture them into becoming loyal customers. 

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Source: Software Advice

 

Inbound marketing combines elements of content marketing, search engine optimisation, and consent marketing, among others, producing a cohesive strategy. By creating engaging and helpful content that answers their questions and addresses their needs, inbound marketers can draw their audience to their website and convert engagement into leads for their business. 

Data Integration Strategy - What Marketers Need to Know - Free Guide

 

The basics of an inbound marketing strategy 

If you want to operate your business according to the rules of inbound marketing strategy, you have to think in terms of the long game. Inbound marketing is not a quick win. It takes planning, execution, creativity, skills and passion to do it well. 

Consider how you will get your audience’s attention, for example, by using blogs, videos, social media posts, podcasts, etc. How will you convince them to share their personal information? Perhaps with valuable, gated content and optimised landing pages? And finally, how will you turn an email address into a paying customer and a paying customer into a loyal brand ambassador? 

There are many moving parts, and without the right strategy, you could quickly become overwhelmed. Condensing the entire process into smaller, more manageable stages can help to simplify your actions. 

Hubspot breaks down the inbound methodology into three areas: 

    • Attract - create unique and insightful multi-channel content to draw users to your website.
    • Engage - offer solutions and insights that answer their questions, meet their needs, and, in time, convinces them to become a customer. 
  • Delight - support the customer to allow them to achieve their goals with their newly purchased product.


Previously, businesses would visualise and implement these actions using the funnel model; customers were moved down the funnel toward the point of purchase, with marketing and sales teams carrying out various tasks in each stage. 

The problem with the funnel is that it’s a product-focused approach, and once customers reach the bottom, the momentum from marketing and sales diminishes. When using the funnel, little effort is made to continuously delight the customer post-sale as the model prioritises sales revenue over customer lifetime value

Additionally, the funnel fosters friction between departments that hinders hand-offs and customer nurturing. Customer centricity is a core value for inbound marketing, and as such, the funnel model was no longer fit for purpose. The flywheel represents an evolution of and a solution to the funnel problem. 

Flywheels exist in a continuous circular motion where customer engagement feeds every part of the process. Each team works simultaneously to nurture leads from strangers to promoters of your product throughout the entire customer journey. The flywheel emphasises building and maintaining relationships with customers rather than merely selling products.

 

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Inbound Marketing Tactics 

Several tactics make up the attract, engage, and delight elements of inbound marketing, many of which are constantly evolving and becoming more and more advanced in their ability to personalise experiences based on customer preferences and expectations.

Let’s take a closer look at three of the main tactics that form the foundation of inbound marketing strategies. 

Content Marketing

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Source: Demand Metric


A vital part of any inbound marketing strategy is content marketing, a process of creating compelling, unique content to attract audiences toward a website. The type of content created for inbound purposes can vary from blogs, videos, infographics, guides, white papers, checklists, templates, podcasts, etc. This is in no way an exhaustive list of the types of content that can be created for inbound marketing purposes. Each brand should determine for themselves which kinds of content best meet the needs of their audience. 

To succeed at content marketing, brands should focus on particular keyword topics related to their products or services. However, the content that they create should not attempt to sell products directly. Instead, the content should exist to pass on knowledge to potential customers about a topic. To become a thought leader in your industry, you must create content with an authentic voice and tell a story that speaks to your audience. 

For example, if you sell specialised running shoes, your chosen keyword topic may be Running, and the content you may create should answer the following questions that include your keyword: 

  • What is running? 
  • How to start running? 
  • How to improve my running abilities?
  • Top 5 running training plans
  • What shoes are best suited for running?
  • A beginner’s guide to running

One of the main benefits of content marketing is increased organic traffic attracted to your website from search engines. Focusing on keywords with a high search volume but low competition from other content creators will increase the likelihood of your content ranking highly on search engine results pages (SERPs). 

Gated content is a great way to convert traffic generated by your free content into leads. You can create in-depth guides or whitepapers with more profound insights than your un-gated content and promote this via an optimised landing page. Ask your audience to exchange their basic information, such as name, email address, company name, etc., in return for these valuable insights. An exchange of this kind acts as explicit marketing consent from your customer to engage with your content going forward. From this point, you can nurture contacts who have converted via email marketing, which we will cover later in this post. 

Research shows that content marketing generates over 3x as many leads as outbound marketing. So, it’s not surprising that content marketing is a highly favoured tactic within inbound marketing; anyone can create and populate a blog without spending a penny. Of course, your content production and distribution strategy can be enhanced by allocating a budget, but it is not essential to spend a lot to gain results.

As your content strategy progresses through the flywheel, you can create conversion-focused content. These include optimised landing pages and smart forms that progressively profile by requesting more data from contacts over time. Contacts who reconvert demonstrate a continued interest in your content. When customers provide more information such as a phone number or address, you can score them as a sales qualified lead.

 

SEO 

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Source: Impact Plus


SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and exists in the background of any content marketing strategy. It is the process of using the right keywords on your website and within your content to ensure that it ranks highly in search engines. If carried out correctly, SEO will improve the quality and quantity of traffic to your website. 

Search engines, such as Google and Bing, have a technology known as crawlers. The crawlers scour the internet for websites and index data about them to serve lists of search results for any given keyword or phrase. Ultimately, crawlers award high rankings to content that is the most relevant, trustworthy and provides the best user experience

Several factors can impact how successful your site is in impressing the search engine crawlers. We can break this down into: 

           1. On-page factors: 

On-page SEO factors are within your control as they incorporate everything from the way your website is structured and the HTML tags used to the content you have created and uploaded. These factors are judged by how successfully they can communicate your website’s purpose to the search engine crawlers. Elements such as page titles, heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.), meta descriptions, alt-text for images, mobile-friendliness, keyword density, and so on are all critical factors.

In June 2021, Google released an update known as Core Web Vitals that made website user experience a high determining factor for website authority. Many content creators saw a drop in organic traffic due to the updated changes. 

On-page factors included in the Core Web Vitals update: 

  • Page loading speed
  • Ease of interaction
  • Visual stability of a page from a user’s perspective

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            2. Off-page factors: 

Off-page SEO factors essentially determine your website’s authority and inform the search engine on how trustworthy your content is on a topic. Factors include backlinks, social media (shares & engagement), guest blogging, brand mentions (linked and unlinked), etc.

You can track certain metrics to ascertain how authoritative your website is in terms of off-page SEO. Whilst these metrics are not directly considered by the search engines as a ranking factor, they can be used as a valuable indicator of the strength of your website’s backlink profile. They are: 

 

  • Domain Authority (DA)
    A term created by SEO experts Moz, DA analyses your entire domain (including any blogs, subdomains and landing pages) to return a number between 0 to 100. This number is based on how many high-quality websites are linking to your content. Domains with higher scores can rank highly in SERPs more easily.

  • Page Rating (PA)
    Another Moz metric, PA, refers to how a specific page is likely to rank in SERPs. For this metric, as with DA, the quality and quantity of backlinks are important. However, content elements such as keyword density, anchors’ quality, traffic linked to the page, reader's behaviour, etc, also play a part in the rating.

Email Marketing 

Inbound methodology dictates that marketing should not interrupt a consumer with unwanted contact, which means email marketing tactics of days gone by, such as purchasing email lists and cold emailing, are no longer viable. Luckily, this ethos aligns extremely well with the new legislation to protect consumers’ rights and privacy: GDPR. 

GDPR or the General Data Protection Regulation deals with the data of anyone based in the European Union or the UK. It must be followed by any orgainisation aiming to target anyone within these areas. 

The regulation dictates that processing of personal data for email marketing can only occur if explicit consent has been granted from the data subject or if there is another legal basis for processing, e.g., legitimate interest.

Even within these allowances, marketers must ensure that they facilitate the data subject’s right to object to processing for marketing purposes. Marketers must ensure that any objection is acknowledged and respected by relinquishing data processing for the subject immediately. 

Things to remember to stay compliant within inbound email marketing: 

  1. Never pre-check consent boxes 
  2. Include ‘Unsubscribe’ links in all email marketing 
  3. Keep records of who consented, when and how
  4. Consistently review your consent practice to ensure continued compliance

Proper email consent practice is vital; however, once you gain this go-ahead from your contacts, it’s up to you to delight them to avoid high unsubscribe rates. Market segmentation is your best friend in this instance; personalise your email marketing content to the individual phases of the flywheel. Utilise email marketing automation to create workflows for each stage of your buyer’s journey and map the tone of each workflow to the stage.

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Source: TechTarget

The purpose of your email marketing is to provide value and create intrigue in a way that will nurture your contact toward becoming a customer. You should always begin with a superb welcome email that briefly explains your brand, its ethos and what content they can expect from your emails. 

Keep in mind that you will never go for the ‘hard sell’ as an inbound marketer. But as your contact progresses through the flywheel, you can introduce them to content that has more purchase intent. 

These are just three of the major players when it comes to inbound marketing, but there are many other tactics that you can use to flesh out your inbound marketing strategy, depending on what channel best suits your target audience: 

  • Social Media
  • Native Advertising
  • Influencer Marketing 
  • Community Building
  • Podcasting
  • Media & PR 

how to create a social media marketing strategy guide

 

Benefits of Inbound Marketing

  • Low cost, high return

When you compare inbound marketing with outbound marketing, you come to understand the disparity between the necessary budget required to see results. Studies show that content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing; the tactic is effective and easy to start. However, long term success will depend on ones ability to know your audience and create quality content that is valuable and speaks to their needs. 

  • Builds brand awareness 

Inbound is an excellent way to build brand awareness by using insightful and informative content to present your company as a thought leader within its industry. Google processes 5.6 billion searches per day, and a proportion of those searches are people looking for products or services like yours. 

By drawing customers to you with inbound marketing, customers become aware of your content first, then they go on to discover how useful your products or services can be. Creating content that ranks around these particular search terms means that your company shows up right at the moment when your potential customers are looking for solutions. Then, you can use email marketing strategies to nurture your new prospective customers through the flywheel.

  • Aligns sales and marketing departments

One of the most detrimental factors to the progress of any business is the existence of data silos. A data silo is a situation where one department within an organisation has access to data that may be valuable to other departments but that is not being shared. Silos can hinder the marketing-sales process as often, vital data concerning messaging or lifecycle stages are held back, meaning potential customers receive conflicting sales and marketing communications.

Inbound marketing can also align the sales and marketing team by creating shared targets and metrics to aim for and create processes that join up the responsibilities of lead generation and nurturing for cross-departmental liability. 

 

  • Utilises first-party data

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Source: WordStream

 

Google has announced that by 2023 it will ban the tracking of third-party data on its browsers - joining Safari and Firefox who already prohibit their use. The death of third-party cookies has marked the beginning of the end for many marketing tactics that utilise this type of data. As a result, marketing professionals are being urged to focus more on tactics that use first-party data to personalise customer experiences. 

First-party data is collected directly by a brand from its customers. Customers offer up this data knowingly by giving consent to track when they begin browsing a website. As we have discussed, website visitors may offer up additional data such as their email address or phone number in return for value - this is where content marketing is particularly useful. Content marketing encourages the use of gated content to collect relevant first-party data from customers. So, adopting content marketing tactics now will serve you well when the coming changes take effect. 

Summing Up

Inbound marketing has completely changed the landscape of B2B and B2C marketing strategies alike and with good reason. For B2B, inbound marketing has increased the bottom line, generating 54% more leads than traditional outbound practices. In B2C markets, 23% of their total marketing budget is allocated to inbound content marketing tactics. 

Investing in inbound marketing when data transparency and privacy concerns are rising is a favourable choice. With inbound marketing’s unintrusive approach to content distribution and consent-first style of data collection, you can improve your customers’ experience without losing their trust. 

Learn how to become a leading omnichannel brand with this free guide: The Ultimate Guide to Omnichannel Marketing 💌 Feel free to get in touch via contact@hurree.co if you have any questions or comments.

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