Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and branding.[1]

Inbound marketing provides improved customer experience and tries to build trust by offering potential customers information they value via company sponsored newsletters, blogs and entries on social media platforms.

Compared with outbound marketing, inbound reverses the relationship between company and customer. In fact, while outbound marketing pushes the product through various channels, inbound marketing creates awareness, attracts new customers with channels like blogs, social media, etc.

Strategies

Search engine optimization

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of utilizing search engine best practices to improve the visibility of a website or a webpage by ranking higher in the search engine results ("SERPS") for keywords relevant to that particular website or webpage. There are several ways to improve a website or webpage's visibility:

Improving Crawlability

Leading search engines use crawlers to find pages for their algorithmic search results. It is important to ensure that these search engine crawlers (AKA spiders) can successfully crawl a website or webpage in its entirety to fully determine the relevance of that website or webpage for its targeted keywords. Since some websites have millions of pages associated to them and that need to be indexed, the practice of Technical SEO will help improve a website's ability to get all of those pages indexed by a search engine and thereby improving their prospects of ranking within the search engine results pages.

Improving Content Relevance

Search engines utilize contextual relevance or semantic search to determine the relevancy of a website or webpage for a particular set of keywords. Improving content quality from a readability and relevancy perspective will help sites increase their relevance for a set of keywords and therefore should increase their keyword rankings and visibility within the search engine results page.

Improving Credibility

Search engines also determine relevancy based on internal and external links that are found across the internet. These backlinks will help associate a website or webpage with a particular set of keywords and can help improve the relevancy of this website or webpage for a particular set of keywords.

Search engine marketing

Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of web marketing which involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages, principally through paid advertising. SEM is strictly connected to SEO in regards to pay promotion and get found out in the first search page. There are some methods and metrics to optimize websites: Keyword research and analysis which ensure the site can be indexed in the search engine, finding the more frequently typed words; Presence which means how many times a web page is indexed by search engines and how many backlinks does it get; Back end tools such as Web analytic tools and HTML validators; Whois tools that reveal the owners of various websites and can provide information related to copyright and trademark. SEM objective is to boost the visibility of a page, it can be done using the so-called "sponsorization". With the term, "sponsorization" is intended a search engine company charging fees for the inclusion of a website in their results pages.

Process

To work well, inbound marketing needs a precise process that, if respected, provides a competitive advantage compared with outbound marketing. The process is composed of four sequential steps: attract, convert, close, and "delight" in order to obtain more visitors on sites, to speed up conversions and finally increase the number of leads and prospects.

Attract

One of the most important differences between outbound and inbound marketing is the fact that "if classical marketing is betting on those people, inbound is betting on that person". it means that companies using inbound marketing know better which are the people they are talking with. They can do it through buyer personas. The buyer personas are the identikit of our ideal customers. Only through them can a company know which is their ideal target and which channels they have to use to reach it. "Attract" does not mean attracting random people; companies want to attract the right people at the right time with the right content. Building a company on the buyer personas, one can define which are the beliefs, pains, hobbies, goals, etc. of our customer and on their basis, one can create the right contents to attract visitors on one's blog, social, YouTube channel, etc. Evergreen content plays a crucial role in building organic traffic to websites or blogs.

Convert

After attracting the visitor on their website, for example, a company will be ready to convert him/her into prospect gathering his/her contact information. Emails are the most valuable information for an inbound marketer. The inbound marketer wants to attract the right visitor, so they will exchange a tutorial video, an ebook or something valuable for the customer so he/she will be glad to give his/her e-mail in return.

Close

Once the needed information is gathered, it is important to stay in contact with the prospects. How are prospects transformed into customers? Some helpful tools are:

Email integrated with call-to-action

Call-to-actions are very useful to let customer complete an action that we like. With this powerful tool we can generate a positive cycle that generates value both for our customer and for us. Generating useful contents and sending it periodically to our prospect we can create awareness but also build trust and make our close-customer be ready to buy something.

Customer-relationship management

Customer-relationship management (CRM) systems track the various steps of customer acquisition. Taking track of information regarding the customer, partner companies etc. it is possible to deliver the right message at the right time to the right person.

Smarketing reporting

Smarketing is the mix of sales and marketing. Generally in big companies, they are two separated units but in inbound marketing, they are usually mixed to have complete and fully understandable information between the two areas. With closed-loop reports also sales and marketing departments know which is the right time to close a deal with the customer and above all know if the customer is ready to be acquired.

Nurturing automation

Through the process of nurturing, companies make the customer ready to be acquired.

For example, if the visitor fills a form to download an ebook on a certain site, the company knows that their prospect is interested in the subject treated in the ebook. After collecting this information, they are ready to "nurture" their future probable customer with a series of emails, videos etc. connected with the subject he/she is interested in.

Delight

After attracting the fan, converting him into prospect, and letting him buy something from the company, the company has to keep in touch with their customer, continuing providing good and valuable contents with the hope of doing some upselling.

References

  1. Patrutiu-Baltes, Loredana (2016). "Inbound Marketing - the most important digital marketing strategy" (PDF). Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov. Series V: Economic Sciences. Transilvania University of Brasov. 9 (2): 61. Retrieved 29 October 2018.

Further reading

  • Halligan, Brian and Shah, Dharmesh (2009) Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs, John Wiley & Sons Inc.
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