What is inbound marketing?


What is inbound marketing?

Remember when your marketing campaign depended on the success of television and radio commercials, cold calling and snail-mail? Go on and feel the Mad Men nostalgia. Those were fun times. The biggest brands of the 20th Century were built on outbound marketing. 

We might still even have a scrapbook lying around from the nineties, plastered with print ads for brands like Levi Strauss (who arrived in South Africa in 1994 to reinvent the way we wore denim). Such was the power of outbound marketing.

But while there’s still room for the old outbounders, marketers are turning to a more measurable strategy: Inbound Marketing. Thanks to the Internet, our marketing tool boxes pack more punch these days. We have access to data; real-time tracking and results. We can identify leads and convert them into sales with the click of a button. How? By creating quality content that pulls people towards us, not the other way around.

Outbound pushes, inbound pulls. The law of attraction is your new best friend.Tweet: Outbound pushes, inbound pulls. The law of attraction is your new best friend.

Let’s unpack this. Picture your ideal customer. We’ll call her Mrs Mom. What are her needs? How can you meet her needs? By aligning your content with Mrs Mom’s interests, you’re naturally attracting her to your brand, where you can then transform her from an interested stranger into a regular customer. If you’ve given her exactly what she wants, she’ll more than likely share your content with her friends. Mrs Mom essentially becomes a promoter for your brand, which, as marketing end goals go, is a major score.

HubSpot goes into more detail, but the general gist of inbound marketing follows this timeline: Attract, Convert, Close and Delight.

Attraction is not just about driving traffic to your brand, it’s about driving the right kind of traffic to your online store, product landing page, or company website. If you’re targeting Mrs Mom, every piece of content you generate (be it a blog, video or Facebook post) must be optimised so that you’re appearing prominently in her search results. Additionally, your content should be adding value. Does it answer Mrs Mom’s questions? Does it offer her an easy solution to her problem? Check out how the Daily Dish gets it right.

Converting Mrs Mom from a visitor to a customer is where inbound marketing steals the shine. Outbound marketing is traditionally interruption-based marketing: choose a platform with a big audience and then interrupt them with blasts of advertising. Back in the day, even the smallest number of conversions from interruption-based marketing made the (often staggering) investment worthwhile. But with the digital age in full swell today, guaranteed outbound conversions are as improbable as unicorns.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is permission-based. You’re speaking to someone who has indicated their interest. Think subscription-based email marketing, social media, and blog subscriptions. These audiences are already participating, so the chances of converting leads are much bigger – in fact, 10 times bigger than outbound marketing. Plus, if you give your visitors something in exchange for their participation (Homeology offers visitors a free eBook in exchange for subscription, while Showmax gives you a free trial), you’re building trust, which will go a long way towards instilling the holy grail of inbound marketing: brand loyalty.

Closing. As soon as Mrs Mom has filled out your online form or clicked your impossible-to-resist call-to-action, you need to close the loop and make the sale. With all the data you’ve gathered about Mrs Mom, you can tailor and automate your follow-up content the way Superbalist does it; to ensure sure that your messaging reflects or anticipates her interests.

To delight, according to HubSpot, is to transform your visitors into promoters. Inbound marketing is not just about relevant, quality content (although you should still consider excellent content a mandatory requirement). What you really want is for your customers to tell their networks about how great you are. To achieve that level of top-tier brand loyalty, you need to build a relationship with your Mrs Mom market. Surveys will give you insight into what you’re doing right, and where there’s room for improvement. Smart calls-to-action will give users different offers that change based on their buyer personas. Social monitoring will enable you to keep track of conversations and give you opportunities to reach out to your customers with relevant content.

And agencies like Maidenand will give you the smart content strategies and quality content generation you need to make it all happen.

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