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introduction-to-inbound-marketing-cover.jpgThe most impactful sources for generating leads are all content-focused: social media posts, blogs, SEO, and email marketing. These content-focused channels are the basis for Inbound Marketing.

In this document, we explain how inbound marketing can help your company increase traffic, leads and customers.

You'll learn

  • The major themes of Inbound Marketing
  • How to attract, convert, nurture and close more leads
  • How Inbound Marketing directly impacts your sales process

Read it below, or download a copy to read it off-line.

Download a PDF copy to read off-line

Terminology

What is Inbound Marketing anyway? Inbound Marketing is a method of attracting prospects' attention with the content they value, before they are even ready to buy. Businesses use Inbound Marketing to generate qualified leads and turn them into customers.

Inbound Introduction

headphones thoughtbubbleWhether you are ready to acknowledge it or not, marketing has already been disrupted.

This is due in part to the changing nature of people’s buying behaviors. Consumers have learned to tune out traditional marketing tactics in order to access the information they want to consume. This means that the old marketing playbook is broken.

Consider these stats from the “State of Inbound Marketing” (HubSpot, 2015):

  • 94% skip TV ads
  • 91% unsubscribe from email
  • 27% of direct mail is never opened
  • 200 million on the Federal Do Not Call list

How many of these are familiar to you and your business?

Inbound Marketing is the process of attracting the attention of prospects with the content they value, before they are even ready to buy. Businesses use Inbound Marketing to generate qualified leads and turn them into customers.

  • Attract more visitors to your website
  • Convert more qualified leads
  • Close leads more efficiently
  • Make smart marketing decisions and investments guided by analytics and ROI

Instead of buying ads, buying email lists, or cold calling, inbound marketing focuses on creating educational, inspiring, relevant content and compelling benefits that pull people toward your website. Once there, they can learn more about what you sell on their own accord.

Inbound Marketing is an approach to marketing that reaches today’s consumer with the content they’re searching for online, and understanding which content resonates the most with your visitors to pull them through the buying cycle.

But before we talk about how your business can benefit from an Inbound Marketing approach, let’s explain why this shift in your marketing strategy is necessary in today’s new business environment.

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The Inbound Economy

Consumer buying habits have changed. Before the Internet, buyers were relatively uninformed. Businesses controlled access to information and spent huge budgets on “outbound” advertising – like cold calls and commercials – to interrupt consumers and tell them about their products and services.

The Internet has fundamentally changed the way people find, share, shop and connect. Today, buyers are well informed. According to a recent study, the average B2B buyer has moved 57 percent through their purchase decision before engaging a supplier sales rep (Google/CEB).

Pre-Internet

  • Buyer: Uninformed
  • Buyer Journey: Linear
  • Marketing Playbook: Interrupt (advertising, cold calls)

Post Internet

  • Buyer: Well informed
  • Buyer Journey: Fluid and random. Starts with an online search.
  • Marketing Playbook: Thought leadership through content creation.

This shift in buyer behavior has shortened the influence that a sales rep has on the buying cycle and presents new challenges for B2B marketers who must change their marketing playbook from one of “outbound” tactics like advertising, cold calling and commercials, to more Inbound Marketing methods that focus on content creation and thought leadership.

Inbound marketing is a philosophy based on the truth that consumers buy differently today than they used to.

the inbound economy

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The Major Themes of Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing, sometimes referred to Content Marketing or Permission Marketing, consists of five major themes.

  1. Content Creation
    You create targeted content that answers your customer's basic questions and needs, and you share that content far and wide.
  2. Lifecycle Marketing
    You recognize that people go through stages as they interact with your company, and that each stage requires different marketing actions.
  3. Nurturing, Personalization & Context
    As you learn more about your leads over time, you can better personalize your messages to their specific needs.
  4. A Multi-Channel Experience
    Inbound marketing is multi-channel by nature because it approaches people where they are, in the channel where they want to interact with you.
  5. Integration
    Your publishing, analytics and sales tools all work together like a well-oiled machine, allowing you to focus on creating the right content in the right place at the right time.

In summary, Inbound Marketing is about:

  • Building trust, not skepticism, among your prospects.
  • Being loved, not ignored, by your customers.

Outsmarting, not outspending, your competitors.

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How Does Inbound Marketing Work?

The Inbound Marketing philosophy is backed by a methodology that helps brands attract, convert and close visitors, leads and customers through a variety of channels such as social media, blogging, SEO, landing pages, forms, and email. These online channels leverage the company’s website as a hub for Inbound Marketing activities.

The methodology facilitates the buyer’s journey through the sales funnel – from stranger to customer, and ultimately promoter of your brand.

The Inbound Methodology Visualized as a Sales Funnel

buyer journey

By turning the sales funnel sideways, we can visualize the steps and activities involved in the Inbound Marketing Methodology.

Inbound Marketing Methodology 

With inbound marketing, your website content gets found by shoppers who are actively searching for valuable, useful information at each stage of their buyer’s journey. Let’s look through the Inbound Marketing Methodology step by step.

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Step 1: Attract strangers and turn them into website visitors.

Attract website visitors with inbound marketingContent creation is the heart of inbound marketing. Social media marketing posts, blog posts, email marketing campaigns, eBooks, whitepapers – there is a lot of copy to be written.

In the awareness stage, a prospect has recognized a problem or pain and goes online to search for a solution. Simply having a company website serves no purpose if it is not found by your target audience. If you are not providing your potential customer with the information they’re looking for, you’re probably not even a player.

In order to attract visitors to your website, you must create content that answers the searcher’s questions or addresses their concerns. Common awareness stage content to attract visitors includes:

Blogs

Blogging is one of the most essential types of content you can create. Each blog article is a new opportunity for a search engine to index your website and a perfect way to offer an ongoing stream of relevant content.

The average company that blogs generates…

  • 55% more website visitors
  • 97% more inbound links
  • 434% more indexed pages
  • 126% more leads

…than those that don’t.

How-to, or opinion articles, videos, audio and photos are a great way to position your company as a thought leader and an industry expert that your prospects can trust.

Building a library of informative blog articles over time provides more opportunities for your blogs to display in search results. Research shows that website traffic ticks up significantly after publishing about 50 total blogs.

Free Download: Marketing Benchmarks from 7000 Businesses

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Keywords and SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or unpaid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results.

The key to ranking well in search engines is making sure that your website has the components that search engines want to deliver your website to the right prospects (the folks searching for what you have to offer).

Improving your ranking and overall visibility in major search engines requires that you do two things:

  1. Become more relevant
  2. Become more authoritative (popular)

Get a free SEO Report Card for your website here.

Get Your Free SEO Report Card

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Social Media

Inbound marketers use social media to drive traffic to their website and to build authority by engaging with prospects and customers.

Social sharing and posting will help expand the reach of your business, increase your rank in search engines and drive traffic to your site. We suggest sharing content (both your own and others’) on your social channels. Engage with your prospects, and put a human face on your brand.

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Pay Per Click Digital Advertising (PPC)

Paid digital advertising, such as Google AdWords, Facebook Ads and boosted social media posts can begin driving visitors immediately to your website, and inbound marketing content can kickstart your inbound marketing efforts.

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Step 2: Convert Visitors into Leads with Inbound Marketing

Convert leads with inbound marketingLead generation is what sets the Inbound Marketing methodology apart from other online marketing methods. Once you’ve got visitors to your site, the next step is to convert those visitors into leads by gathering contact information. In order to get this valuable information, you need to offer something up in return – some additional relevant content that gives them even more of the information that attracted them to your website in the first place.

Great “high-value” content to consider includes:

  • Infogrpahics
  • Videos
  • Testimonials
  • Case Studies

Put this high-value content on a web page with a form where the visitor can provide their name and email address to download it. Trading your valuable, downloadable content for your visitor’s contact information is how leads are generated using Inbound Marketing.

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Step 3: Close Leads into Customers with Lead Nurturing

close customers with Inbound MarketingOnce you’ve attracted the right visitors and converted the right leads, you need to transform those leads into customers with targeted, automated email nurturing and social media interaction.

Inbound marketing helps you determine where your leads are in their decision-making process and how you can help move them along their buyer journey.

By using technology like marketing automation software and integrations with sales software (CRM), inbound marketing gives clients the data they need to successfully convert leads to sales.

Automated lead-nurturing segments contacts according to their behavior on your website (someone who downloads your latest eBook will be put on a different path than someone who requests a product demo). On each path, the appropriate offers and content are delivered via email with links back to new offers, landing pages and lead capture forms. And every action taken by your leads is tracked and scored so sales-ready prospects are filtered out and sent along to your sales team.

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Bringing your Inbound Strategy Together

Using context and personalization to deliver tailored messages, and continuing to engage with, delight, and (hopefully) upsell your current customer base into happy promoters of your company, your Inbound Marketing strategy will be working to Attract Visitors, Convert Leads and Close Customers. Here’s how the inbound marketing process comes together.

Introduction-to-Inbound-Marketing.jpg

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