Understanding What Inbound Marketing Is and What It Is Not
You’ve doubtless heard a lot about inbound marketing. Chances are also good that you’ve received conflicting information. There are many different definitions out there depending on the person speaking, and they all seem at least plausible. Perhaps the most accurate comes from HubSpot. “Inbound marketing is a holistic, data-driven approach to marketing that attracts individuals to your brand and converts them into lasting customers.”
Going Beyond the Definition The definition above should give you a good idea of what inbound marketing is all about. However, what IS it? What comprises this approach? Actually, there are many different elements. However, let’s address something else first – what it is NOT. Inbound marketing is not a standalone solution to your marketing and advertising needs. It is not capable of working alone. It needs support, and that support is provided by a well-thought out content marketing campaign. Think about it this way. If your clients aren’t aware of what you offer, or why you would be the best choice for their needs or problem, then inbound marketing methods will do not good. They become about as effective as cold calling.
The process overall is designed to turn strangers into visitors, then visitors into leads, and then customers, and finally, end with them being brand advocates. This takes place over a lengthy chain of events and actions, combining both content and inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is comprised of a number of interrelated techniques that complement one another, and your content marketing campaign. For instance, search engine optimization is part of inbound marketing, and is responsible for ensuring that your website, landing pages and blog are visible in search results. Calls to action in your content, as well as your landing page copy, and opt-in forms are also included in inbound marketing (the landscape is actually much more vast than this).
In the end, inbound marketing is about creating leads and sales, while content marketing is about building your brand and fostering a reputation for expertise. Content helps people get to know you and your business, and then inbound methods attract them to where you want them to go, generally a landing page where they can sign up and their information will be entered into your system. This is the beginning of the sales funnel.
The sales funnel will be further supported by content (of a type that appeals to your specific customer, and draws them further into the funnel and toward the tipping point where a lead becomes an actual customer). Inbound marketing is all of these things, but it’s also more. It’s a mindset. It’s the realization that direct marketing no longer works. You need to attract your customers to you, not invade their privacy or inundate them with unwanted spam. Call it attraction marketing, permission marketing or magnet marketing, it all boils down to the same thing – an essential ingredient to finding success in the modern world.