Inbound Marketing

What is Inbound Marketing? Definition, Examples, & Comparison 2021

By Abhishek Sharma
8 minutes

Inbound marketing is a customer-centric approach that helps a business to expand its reach and attract potential clients. This practice is more famous in B2B as compared to other business models. The reason being, this marketing strategy is subtle and sophisticated which is excellent for targeting executives and decision-makers. In this article, we are going to discuss key aspects like different strategies, planning, and implementation, benefits, etc.

If there is inbound marketing then there must be a thing called outbound marketing as well. So what is the key difference between both of them and why inbound is preferable, not outbound? Let’s have clear-cut inbound marketing vs outbound marketing face-off.

Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing

Have you ever heard of pull marketing? In this style of marketing, the customer demand is increased by advertising a specific product or service? Inbound marketing uses many tactics that are part of pull promotional strategies like content marketing, organic traffic, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), social media, etc. The final objectives are to create brand awareness, increase reach, and attract new business. Inbound marketing lets potential customers find a business through various platforms like search engines, social media, etc. It means the ideal buyers automatically come to you, not the other way around.

On the contrary, in outbound marketing, a business seeks out customers. Some common practices of this marketing approach are door-to-door sales, trade shows, seminar series, outsourced telemarketing, advertising, and cold calling. As you may have noticed, the initial investment of outbound marketing is higher compared to others, which also diminishes the final ROI (Return on Investment). Ironically, the surge of outbound marketing is the result of its doom. The more such techniques are implemented, the less effective they become. For example, the customer has found ways to block ads, cold calls, etc through spamming filters, caller IDs, and other means.

“68% of B2B customers prefer to do their own research before purchasing anything from anyone.”

Inbound marketing vs outbound marketing

In the outbound process, the sales reps or advertiser doesn’t have a complete idea of their audience, whereas, inbound campaigns are meticulously designed to target a specific set of audience. In inbound marketing people who found your website learn about your business through blogs, get informed, and show interest in your products, which also results in brand awareness.

What is Inbound Marketing?

The best way to inbound marketing is by quoting the inventor of this methodology- HubSpot. They say the inbound strategy is all about attracting customers via valuable content and then presenting them your products and later, providing the best possible service to customers.

When a customer finds something valuable, whether it’s on the internet or a physical place, the first thing they do is share it with other people. The same goes for the bad experience. If they get success from your business then it’s more likely that they recommend you to others. In this way, you can attract more prospective customers to your business, and this self-sustaining loop will go on till the end of the time.

The Sacred Inbound Marketing Funnel

The Inbound marketing funnel shows the journey of converting a lead into a promoter. Later, Hubspot made some modifications to this funnel and introduced a flywheel model. They usually prefer to call it “Inbound Marketing Flywheel”, whatever the name is, the monopoly of this funnel or flywheel lies in the utmost customer experience.

The funnel illustrates the entire process of converting a prospective customer to a lead, customer, and finally a promoter. This goal is achieved in four phases- Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight.

Let’s have a keen look at all four phases of arguably the best B2B marketing strategy.

Inbound marketing funnel

Attract

The buyer’s personal has a vital role to play when it comes to attracting your potential customers. You can attract new potential customers to the company’s website, social media channels, or any other.

For this, you may need to generate high-quality and valuable content. One way to do this is to identify all the potential problems that your customers may be facing and show them how your products can solve those problems. Make sure to eliminate all kinds of irrelevant and redundant ads from your strategy.

Also, you should be aware of the ways through which customers may find you. In most cases, they search you with the help of keywords, therefore, you should always know what people are searching for. In order to know this, you need to be at the top of your SEO game (Search Engine Optimization). For this, You can use tools such as Ahrefs and SEMrush. Both of them are great from an SEO as well as a content marketing perspective.

Convert

Suppose, you have managed to bring visitors to your website, Great! But now what? What are they supposed to do there?

Most businesses think their job is done as visitors start coming to the website. The website owner starts to presume that genuinely interesting visitors will fill up the contact form or ask for assistance upfront. But let us tell you this is no way near the truth.

This is exactly the opposite of what inbound marketing actually is. Leads won’t beg and ask for your services or products, you should approach them by the most appropriate means.

One such way to nurture website visitors is to provide them useful and valuable content through blogs. In return, you can ask for their contact information. This is the simplest and yet most effective way to convert a visitor into a lead.

Also, make sure to add an irresistible CTA- Call-to-action button to your blog post and website. Typically, a CTA lands the visitor on to contact form or landing page, you can do any of them as per your business type. We recommend you not to start throwing sales pitches as soon as visitors sign up on your website. First, nurture them with ebooks, white papers, tips, etc. This will show your expertise to the visitors and this might increase your chances of doing business with them.

Close

Now you attracted some visitors and converted them into leads, but leads don’t pay bills or purchase products. A business is run because of its customers. Remember the job is only half done yet, if you want to be a star inbound marketer then you need to hammer down the last nail.

For a B2B company, leads know what they exactly want, so you can’t beat around the bush with them. Instead, show them your expertise, show them you know what you are talking about. Tell the leads how your products can help them in solving their problems.

You can use resources like product demonstrations, videos, documents, case studies, working manuals, etc. In this way, leads will realize that your company is the best for them. There are many lead scoring solutions available that will present you with the most qualified and convertible leads among all.

Delight

Some might be wondering what else you can give to customers after they have purchased your products or services. For this, you first need to understand the contrast between a satisfied customer and a delighted customer.

A satisfied customer may purchase from you and start using your product or service. On the other hand, a delighted customer will not only purchase from you but also promote the products that they bought and loved. Once your customers are delighted with your services only then the inbound marketing funnel will be the ultimate success. Now, the question arises how do you delight your customers? Obviously, you can’t force them to promote your products. Here are some other options.

  • Provide an unmatched after-sales service.
  • Understand the problems your customers are facing and resolve them as soon as possible.
  • Never take a customer for granted.
  • Show interest in your customers, their interests, and their business.

The process is not instantaneous, which means, first you have to gain the confidence of your customers and focus on the ongoing customer relationship with dedication.

These four parameters- Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight are the four fundamentals. However, inbound marketing allows you to be flexible and experimental unless you are not jeopardizing the customer experience.

Inbound Marketing Examples

The spectrum of inbound marketing examples is as wide as the number of potential ways to get visitors to your website. All of them include one basic element i.e. providing valuable and useful content.

  • Blogs

When it comes to blogging, quality with consistency is all that matters. Statistics suggest that 46% of readers take a blogger’s recommendations into consideration before making any purchase.

If you publish blogs once after every 2 days then chances are your website traffic will increase by 3.5 times and the lead generation rate will increase by 4.5 times.

Blog Marketing

Through blogs, you can showcase your products and services, answer the potential questions of your prospective customers. Nowadays, long-form content is quite popular, where readers are indulging themselves in research before making a purchase.

Due to this reason, in 2021 more than 80% of companies have adopted a dedicated content marketing strategy in order to reach the target audience.

  • Whitepaper

The concept of white papers is widely popular among B2B companies. White papers are a set of documents that comprise detailed and well-researched content, but in a more formal manner as compared to blog posts.

Whitepaper

White papers are specially designed and curated for products and services. Unlike blogs, in which you can talk about general topics. When a website visitor downloads a whitepaper then he/she will be expecting organized, informative, and in-depth content.

You can exchange these white papers for the contact information of the visitors. Later you can use the inbound marketing methodology to convert, close, and delight the customer.

  • Podcast

You might not notice but the popularity of podcasts has been increasing day by day. And why not? They are so accessible and easy to consume information. Just plug in the earphones and start listening. You don’t even need to look at the screen. You can multitask while listening to podcasts.

podcasts

From the marketer’s perspective, podcasts allow you to connect with consumers on a personal level. It’s just like personally sharing information about your brand with each person.

The Final Words

Inbound marketing needs a unified effort from all departments like sales, marketing, customer service, and content marketing. The whole idea while implying this strategy is to keep the customer relationships in the center. For this purpose, you need powerful tools like CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, a marketing automation platform, etc. We are pretty sure that after implementing this strategy, you will see a significant increase in your market share. And the good thing is that you’ll retain these customers for a very long time.

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