What Is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is a methodology where businesses use valuable content to attract new customers without relying on interruption-based ads or cold outreach. Businesses create content that answers questions their audience is already asking, then use free resources and forms to convert website visitors into leads.
Some of the most common channels for inbound marketing strategies are social media, Google (search engine optimization), and online communities like Facebook Groups and Quora.
Since the entire methodology is based on attracting people that are actively looking for the solutions you’re offering, the quality of leads are typically high.
Contrast this technique with outbound or traditional marketing, which is focused on pushing a message to the widest possible audience, regardless of need for the company’s offering.
Outbound marketing strategies (not to be confused with account-based marketing) typically target large, cold audiences at a lower cost with the hope of reaching a handful of interested people.
The Basics of Inbound Marketing
Usually, the point of marketing is to sell a product or service by attracting the customer’s attention, demonstrating the offering’s virtues, and helping them understand how this one specific solution can help make their lives better.
Inbound marketing takes a different, more long-term view than a direct sales pitch.
Every day, people go to Google, social media and niche forums on the internet for help answering questions or making decisions.
The goal of inbound marketing is to be in the right place at the right time, and with the right information to answer these queries. Even if it doesn’t translate to a sale at the time, those searchers will remember that you helped them and associate that experience with your brand.
With proper website tracking, businesses are also able to run ads to these pre-qualified audiences of people that have already visited their website—helping to put your ad dollars to the best use possible.
Always be on the hunt for opportunities to provide value to your audience. Teach them about a new topic or concept in your industry, make complex data easily understandable, or suggest ways to help mitigate their pain points that don’t rely on your organization’s offerings.
Don’t be afraid to how you can help directly in a Call to Action at the bottom of the page, but remember that inbound marketing is all about what you can do for your customer outside of the sale.
Creative Examples of Inbound Marketing
The Top of Funnel content that makes up a significant portion of inbound marketing efforts isn’t restricted to the written word. Many businesses now produce podcasts or videos, creating an association with their brand through content people are interested in.
One of the greatest advantages of inbound marketing is its flexibility.
In fact, there are many examples throughout history of organizations creating legacies through means that would today be considered inbound marketing.
The Guinness Book of World Records was established to act as a reference for trivia in pubs. The Michelin Guides, which offer coveted star ratings to restaurants, were originally devised to encourage the French to travel in cars, and thus have more frequent tire replacements.
In the modern day, the mattress company Casper launched Van Winkle’s, a fully-featured online publication dedicated to exploring the science and culture of sleep. Van Winkle’s never directly advocated for or mentioned its parent company, and instead was used as a way to position the brand, inserting it into scientific conversations about sleep.
No matter how ambitious you choose to be, remember this one lesson from advertising great David Ogilvy: “where people aren’t having fun, they seldom produce good work.”