What is Inbound Marketing?
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Attract. Convert. Close. Delight. Repeat.
As buzzwords go, inbound marketing may have recently shown up on your business radar. However, while many buzzwords tend to be trends that come and go, inbound marketing is a sound strategy that’s perfect for business in the digital age. It’s long term and requires an investment in terms of both cost and effort. However, the rewards come in the form of return-on-investment many times over, spanning possibly years of customer loyalty. In many ways, inbound marketing is the gift that keeps on giving.
Traditional marketing sees a business put its message out to the public; you go to them and hope for conversions. Inbound marketing, though, directs people to you — they want your insight and want to keep coming back to you. Why would people do that? It’s not some magical customer magnet that appeared out of nowhere. It’s because you took the time and effort to create something of value for potential customers.
Inbound marketing is based on the idea that modern customers will use many digital avenues to learn about a product or service. Researching on search engines, reading articles, engaging on social media, watching videos, these all represent ways for customers to learn more and evaluate prior to making a decision. If you are running an effective inbound marketing campaign, the goal is to put your brand at the front of all those lines. Then through exposure and engagement, customers learn to trust and value your brand, and by building on that relationship with further value, you keep them over the long haul.
Inbound marketing can be broken up into four stages.
- Attract: Through search engine results of content, advertising, video/infographic content, social media, images, or some other avenues, people find your brand and see value in the content/engagement you’ve posted.
- Convert: Visitors turn into leads when they submit contact information for follow up. This can be anything from an email address to further customer details. To obtain this, a reward (ebook, newsletter, etc.) is usually provided as incentive to opt-in.
- Close: By getting consistent valuable content from your channels, leads will eventually turn to your solutions and convert to customers.
- Delight: Following the transaction, customers develop loyalty with further valuable content and engagement. This reinforces your brand and helps grow word-of-mouth marketing.
This may seem like a lot of work, and truth be told, it requires effort. However, what you are doing here is establishing the foundation for a strong long term customer base. Rather than one and done conversions, these are customers who will deliver repeat business while providing grassroots marketing through word of mouth. Most importantly, it’s designed to sustain and adapt to any new trends, such as the last decade’s rise of social media and streaming video — because it doesn’t matter what form or media you use to deliver value as long as you make sure that potential customers get it.
Thus, inbound marketing may be the most effective solution for the future of your business. It is scalable, adaptable, and effective — so what are you waiting for?
By Marc Apple
Marc Apple is recognized as a leader in the marketing industry and has 20+ years of experience helping businesses of all sizes improve their digital marketing. He specializes in website design, SEO, social media, and paid search programs. He is a frequent contributor to other marketing websites and speaks regularly about marketing to small business owners and startups. To learn about Marc and to contact him, visit his author bio page.
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