Attract. Convert. Close. Delight.

Inbound marketing can change the way startups build their customer base. Bold statement, right? But think about it this way. If marketing is a conversation, inbound marketing means the conversation comes to you — or as we like to put it, a visitor becomes a lead becomes a customer becomes a loyal customer. As a startup, could you ask for anything more?

Using the conversation analogy, let’s take a closer look. Traditional marketing is like walking into a crowded room, dressed sharply and all done up — and with something very important to say. You start talking, shouting even, but can’t get noticed above the conversation, drinks, and appetizers.

Anyone in a startup may have felt this way when it comes to marketing. Even if you have the best product or service in the world, you’re still walking into that crowded room without getting noticed. There’s a lot of noise out there, and from social media to search engine results, it can feel nearly impossible to cut through it.

Now picture that same party but in a slightly different scenario. You walk in, dressed sharply and ready to engage. But before you can open your mouth, someone comes up to you and asks a question. And then another person comes up to you with a question while someone else is trying to get your opinion.

That’s inbound marketing. With inbound marketing, it starts with your audience coming to you (the “attract” stage). For a startup, it’s one of the most effective ways of building a customer base, establishing branding, and simply getting noticed.

How Does Inbound Marketing Work?

startups-social-media-strategyJust like in the party scenario, inbound marketing sends people to you — hence, the term “inbound.” The key to making this happen is the creation of tangible and valuable assets that attract people to your startup. In a perfect world, you’d have people showing up at your doorstep (physical or virtual depending on your business) even without some driving force. But in the real world, something has to cause them to make that inbound decision.

That’s the trick with inbound marketing. It’s effective and creates a plan for both short-term and long-term success, but it requires an investment in the form of time and energy over regular intervals. Once you commit to that, then the plan executes.

What Draws People to Your Startup?

It can be any number of things: helpful articles, how-to videos, infographics filled with facts, and other such content. The avenues in which people arrive can vary — a search engine result, content that went viral on social media, a paid ad, an email newsletter, etc. If your brand/website is at the center of a hub, then the different marketing channels are all spokes and content is the magnet that draws them in.

Of course, if marketing is a conversation, then you have to keep your audience engaged (the “convert” and “close” stages). That means using your various tools to optimize communication with your audience, both from an analytical and a content creation perspective. It’s all about understanding what they want and why they want it. By delivering that, you earn their trust — enough trust that they become a paying customer.

When you end a conversation, it could be a simple goodbye or a promise to stay in touch. Inbound marketing focuses on the latter. The “delight” stage means that you’ve made a new friend, and though the conversation may have ended, that person is telling their friends and family about your startup. At the same time, you maintain a relationship with them via social media, email newsletters, and other avenues. They become your promoters and repeat customers, and in turn, you continue to engage them. Thus in reality, the conversation never really stops.

That’s why inbound marketing is worth the investment of time and effort, particularly in a company’s early startup stage. In fact, the earlier you start, the more dividends will pay off over time. For any startup owner, that’s why inbound marketing may be the best conversation they’ve ever had.

Does your startup want to launch an inbound marketing campaign? Download Forward Push’s The Startup’s Guide To Inbound Marketing to learn even more about integrating inbound marketing into your company’s strategy.