An Overview of Inbound Methodology
Let’s go ahead and state the obvious: the internet has fundamentally changed the world of marketing. The days when companies could rely on interruptive outbound advertising alone are long behind us. Today’s buyer is empowered by increasing control over the information they seek—which means they can also control what information they don’t
want. Outbound marketing tactics are at the top of their hit list.
The people have spoken: they don’t want their lives interrupted by marketing messages anymore. They want to interact with brands on their own terms, and they want those interactions to be meaningful, relevant, and personalized.
The Era of Inbound
Enter inbound marketing: a laser-focused approach which puts the power into the hands
of the target buyer. Since 2006, inbound marketing has been the most eﬀective marketing
method for doing business online. Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of
buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on
creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they
naturally want to be.
Outbound marketers barge, buy, and beg their way into the awareness of the public;
inbound marketers focus on getting found by buyers who are already seeking their
services or products. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests,
you naturally attract inbound traﬀic you can convert, close, and delight over time.
The Core Values of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is about creating and sharing high-value content with purpose. By creating content designed to attract your ideal customers, an inbound marketer can draw in qualified prospects and nurture them towards becoming customers and loyal brand advocates.
The major themes of inbound marketing, include:
• Content Creation + Distribution: Create content that answers your customers’ questions and adds value to their life. Share that content far and wide.
• Lifecycle Marketing: Specific marketing actions and tools transform visitors into contacts, contacts into leads, leads into customers, and customers into promoters. Performing the right action at the right time (aimed at the right person) makes this transformation possible.
• Personalization: The most eﬀective content is tailored to the needs of the people who are viewing it. You’ll learn more about your leads over time, empowering you to better personalize your messages based on their specific wants and needs.
• Multi-channel: Diﬀerent people prefer interacting on diﬀerent channels. The inbound marketing approach involves learning which channels work best for you and your
customers. That doesn’t mean picking one channel and sticking to it—inbound marketing is multi-channel by nature.
• Integration: Content creation, distribution, and analytics tools all work together to create a closed loop, allowing you to figure out what’s working (and what isn’t). Inbound is about the exchange of knowledge, passion, and (most importantly) value.
The Four Stages of Inbound Methodology –
Attract, Convert, Close, & Delight
The four stages of the inbound marketing methodology provide a framework to follow as you aim to attract targeted visitors to your website and convert them into leads, customers, and loyal promoters of your brand. The new methodology acknowledges that inbound marketing doesn’t just happen: you do it. And you do it using tools and applications that help you create and deliver content which will appeal to precisely the right people (your buyer personas) in the right places (channels) at just the right times (lifecycle stages).
The goal of this stage is to publish content that attracts highly targeted visitors to your website. As you can imagine, we don’t just want to attract any traﬀic—we want the righttraﬀic. We want the people who are most likely to become leads and, ultimately, happy customers. Who are the “right” people? Our ideal customers are also known as our buyer personas. Buyer personas are holistic ideals of what your customers are really like, inside and out. Personas encompass the goals, challenges, pain points, common objections to products and services, and marketing triggers, as well as personal and demographic information shared among all members of that particular customer type. Your personas are the people around whom your whole business is built.
The tools of attraction include:
• Search Engine Optimization
• Social Media
• Website Content
• Google Adwords
Once you’ve attracted targeted website visitors, the next step is to convert those visitors into leads by gathering their contact information. At the very least, you’ll need their email addresses. Contact information is the most valuable currency there is to the online marketer. So, in order for your visitors to oﬀer up that currency willingly, you need to oﬀer them something in return! That “payment” comes in the form of content—like eBooks, whitepapers, or tip sheets—whatever information would be interesting and valuable to each of your personas.
The tools of conversion include:
• Landing pages
• Valuable content
You’re on the right track. You’ve attracted the right visitors and converted the right leads, but now you need to transform those leads into customers. How can you most eﬀectively
accomplish this feat? Certain marketing tools can be used at this stage to make sure you’re closing the right leads at the right times.
The closer’s tools include:
• Customer relationship management software
• Closed-loop reporting
• Marketing automation
• Email campaigns
• Sales acceleration tools
The Inbound way is all about providing remarkable content to our personas, whether they be visitors, leads, or existing customers. Just because someone has become a customer doesn’t mean you can forget about them! Inbound companies continue to engage with, delight, and (ideally) upsell their current customer base into happy promoters of the organizations and products they love.
Tools of delight include:
• Social monitoring
• Smart content
• Educational content
Almost everyone has joined the inbound game.
By now, most companies understand that inbound marketing oﬀers a powerful strategy
for customer acquisition and positive ROI. An overwhelming majority of marketers now
consider inbound to be the preferred method for their companies. But, while SMBs
typically rely on inbound marketing alone, larger companies tend to use inbound and
outbound tactics quite equally. The reason: big companies have more budget dollars set
aside to spend on costly outbound marketing tactics.
3 out of 4 marketers worldwide consider inbound marketing to be their first priority.