What is inbound marketing?

Definition, types, and how to get started

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is a digital marketing method that helps you attract customers to your business by creating useful content and experiences that resonate with audiences. It prioritizes content creation and information sharing as a way to reach customers, rather than relying solely on ads.

It can help create an engaging environment for customers, giving them educational tools, interactive media, or communication opportunities in addition to your brand’s products.

To begin planning an inbound marketing campaign, it’s important to determine what content you can provide at every step of your customers’ journeys. Using a customer journey map can be helpful for outlining the touchpoints of the shoppers’ experience, from awareness to actions to post-purchase advocacy.

Outlining your brand’s content calendar and promotional plans will help keep your inbound marketing strategy organized, as well. This will be crucial for measuring the success metrics of your campaign during and after its runtime. Additionally, it can also help spark creativity in your content and your distribution strategies across channels. Try out different formats of content or avenues for promotion to reach customers in a variety of places.

Although inbound marketing doesn’t always correlate to lead generation or direct sales increases, it can be a critical part of a business’s digital marketing strategy. The goal of inbound marketing is to raise brand awareness, which can be harder to measure directly but is still crucial.

Why is inbound marketing important?

Inbound marketing addresses the needs of customers. Different marketing categories, such as content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, and digital marketing, could all see potential benefits from integrating inbound marketing strategies into campaigns. The methodology of inbound marketing is less about sales and more about content creation and providing customers with robust information about your brand and products.

Inbound marketing can help inform customers as they look for information on products. In a recent Amazon survey on consumer behavior and product discovery, over half of the respondents researched products online. Brands can prepare for this by using inbound marketing to ensure the information and resources customers would need are available on their website or social media.

What is the difference between inbound and outbound marketing?

Outbound marketing actively reaches out to customers, often with paid media or marketing automation. It also includes tools such as supply-side platform (SSP), which is programmatic software that facilitates external advertising.

In contrast, inbound marketing includes editorial or social content created by your brand. Inbound marketing is not necessarily more effective than outbound marketing or marketing automation, but a goal of inbound marketing is to lead to organic coverage of your brand in places such as print or news media, or through user-generated content (UGC).

What are the benefits of inbound marketing?

The success of inbound marketing is determined by the amount of quality content you can provide your customers. That can range from product descriptions to advertising campaigns to supplemental content on your website. Any relevant content you can provide readers to educate them on your brand, products, messaging, or related information can be included in your inbound marketing strategy.

Though it can be difficult to assign inbound marketing techniques to specific metrics, you can consider a strategic methodology that includes the number of return customers you have. Repeat visitors or repeat purchases can be metrics of successful inbound marketing. Conducting surveys or interviews with your customers is also a great way to get feedback on how your brand is perceived. A big benefit of inbound marketing efforts is that they can give your brand a voice, and communicating with customers can also help your brand gain trust and credibility.

Additionally, content created for your inbound marketing strategy can also improve your brand’s search engine optimization (SEO). By considering the needs of potential customers who are looking online for certain products, you can make sure there is relevant SEO information on your product pages, social media, or website, for example.

Examples of inbound marketing

Inbound marketing can be found across a wide variety of content marketing strategies. It can include brand-owned content such as blog posts, webinars, infographics, and newsletters. It can also include external coverage of your brand or products in other publications or websites, too. Email marketing is a way to bring content straight to the inboxes of dedicated subscribers. Within social media, there’s also brand-inspired hashtags and UGC. To summarize, any type of content that mentions or shows your brand or product can help to raise brand awareness and help advertise for you.

Getting started with an inbound marketing strategy

Your brand’s inbound marketing strategy should be unique to your brand. Start by thinking about what content could help your customers and what you want your brand voice to be in communications with them. A great early step is to start A/B testing content to see what resonates with your audience. Once you know more about your customers, you can make sure you’re meeting their needs by providing them with valuable content with the help of inbound marketing.