There are essentially two types of marketing: inbound marketing and outbound marketing. Whereas outbound marketing tends to be more focused on traditional forms of marketing (such as telemarketing, direct mail, television and radio advertisements, sales fliers, etc.), inbound marketing is all about the web and bringing customers to your site through quality content, social media, and SEO.

With the ability to fast-forward through commercials and opt out of paperless mail options, traditional marketing techniques are finding it harder to bring in customers. According to HubSpot’s Jeanne Hopkins, inbound marketing brings customers to your company at 60% less cost than traditional marketing venues with the added bonus of not being interruptive.

What is Inbound Marketing?

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The creator of the term inbound marketing, Brian Halligan, said it works best for smaller businesses that deal in high numbers and knowledge-based products. Although there is no set-in-stone definition, it is commonly accepted that if people are looking for information about a product, then quality information from an expert source will help them make their decision on where to buy.

An inbound marketing strategy is generally going to cover content management. Content management is not just what’s on your website, but also includes:

  • Blogs
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • eBooks / eNewsletters
  • Whitepapers
  • SEO
  • SMM
  • Emails
  • ...and more!

Evolution of Inbound Marketing

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Inbound marketing has developed and evolved since its initial declaration in the mid 90s. In addition to the methodology, or stages, of inbound marketing (discussed below) a brief look at the inbound marketing sales funnel is warranted to better understand the sales aspect of inbound marketing and how it works in relation to marketing efforts.

  1. TOFU (Top of the Funnel) – unaware buyers looking to gain knowledge about a particular service or product. This is where quality, high-level content brings in traffic to your site.
  2. MOFU (Middle of the Funnel) – those interested in purchasing a solution to their problem or question, but who still need to be persuaded to purchase from a specific site.
  3. BOFU (Bottom of Funnel) – buyers who know what they want and want to buy from your site.

The Inbound Marketing Methodology

Melissa3Inbound marketing is about pulling customers in through quality content, but it’s just one part of the overall process – in fact, it’s the first part! There are 5 steps to inbound marketing based on today’s online marketing landscape:

  1. Attracting traffic (owned and earned media)
  2. Converting traffic to leads (landing pages)
  3. Converting leads to sales (lead nurturing)
  4. Converting customers into repeat higher margin customers (sales interaction)
  5. Analyzing (nurturing)

Attracting Traffic

Search engine optimization, email campaigns, and social media marketing all work together at the first stage of inbound marketing. Optimizing content and product pages, engaging with social media members, creating landing pages, and developing promotional content such as whitepapers and press releases will all pull visitors onto your website by showing potential visitors your expertise in a given field.

Converting Traffic to Leads

Banners promoting deals on certain products, effective calls to action, and unique value propositions (UVPs) persuade customers to convert into leads and sales. Using A/B testing is popular because it helps optimize calls to action, landing page conversion, etc., which leads to the next section: turning leads into sales.

Converting Leads to Sales

Converting leads into sales joins the efforts of both a marketing and sales team. Taking information from the first sections (such as demographic information, social media profiles, shopping behavior, etc.) and optimizing how the marketing is delivered (times, channels, etc.) will better optimize the chance of visitors buying something on your site.

Higher Margin Customers

The fourth level of the inbound marketing methodology stipulates that with technology today companies are able to determine which types of content, at what times, yield the best results. What are the best results? That depends on your website’s goals; high margins and repeat customers are the two most popular.

Analysis

As most marketers know, online marketing best practices are forever changing. Staying on top of the changing trends as to what type of content your customers want, what delivery method they prefer, and when they want it is crucial for maintaining optimal click-through and conversion rates. Staying continuously active in social media, publishing guides, surveys, and whitepapers, and maintaining high online visibility retains customers and promotes new interactions.

Inbound marketing is an effective and measurable resource for your website’s growth. It is extremely cost-effective and gives companies the ability to reach their targeted audience through quality and personalized avenues.

Need help optimizing your inbound marketing? Groove Commerce offers internal site optimization as well as social media, landing page, and email communications to attract, engage, and keep visitors converting on your site. Contact us today to see how our inbound marketing approach can help your website.

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