Inbound marketing is a branch of marketing that relies on non-intrusive techniques to help the user throughout the buying process. With these tools, it accompanies the potential customer all along the way. This is done through the creation of relevant and valuable content for the Internet user. In this way, it helps the user and gives them a positive view of the company. Conventional advertising techniques seek to sell products in an aggressive and direct way. However, inbound marketing aims to create lasting relationships with users and potential customers throughout the sales cycle.
Differences between inbound marketing and outbound marketing
This branch of marketing focuses on the user, their problems and needs. In doing so, it makes the firm useful throughout the entire purchasing process and not only at the moment of the transaction. In contrast, outbound marketing pays more attention to the product than to the person. The result is that it leaves aside the study of the target audience, since it aims to reach as many people as possible.
Since there is no prior study of the people to be targeted, outbound marketing uses channels of general use in the population, such as television or radio. Therefore, it presents the product or service regardless of whether the audience needs it at that moment or not. An example of this is a television commercial in the middle of a series. In this case, the person viewing it may not be ready to receive that information, and it may not really add value at that moment. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, makes use of digital media to engage with its target audience. It uses social networks, blog articles, videos and other formats and targets those media in which your audience has a presence.
In addition, it not only pays attention to the format and the channel in which it is published, but also to the moment in which the target audience is and how relevant this content is for them. When using this type of media, communication is not only from the company to the user. On the contrary: there is interaction through comments or reactions, thus creating a two-way communication. This is really useful. Just as in a face-to-face conversation you can rectify the tone or the message based on the look or the answers of the other person, the same happens with inbound marketing. Through the reaction and involvement of the target audience with the content, the firm can learn from it and redirect the strategy.
However, outbound marketing does not have this opportunity, so you cannot know for sure if you are creating the acceptance you want in your audience. This, as we mentioned earlier, is due to the underestimation of the physical person. Since it is the product and the transaction that is important, you are not looking for a direct way to communicate with the public. Clearly, this is a mistaken view, since, as you know, the focus should always be on the target audience. Without customers, there are no sales, and without understanding how your customers behave, it will be difficult for them to understand how your product or service behaves.
Stages of the inbound methodology
The inbound methodology consists of four main stages, which are adjusted to the times and phases of the buying cycle.
The first one is to attract. In this stage, the goal is to attract users and increase the traffic to your web page. To do this, you will have to provide useful information to the user, which will help them to solve various problems they suffer with. In this way, enriching content is generated through informative or educational articles, providing value to users.
Once users have been attracted, the next step is to convert visitors to leads. The user has already discovered the problem or need he/she has and moves through the buying cycle. The latter is the process that this person goes through from the moment he/she discovers this need until he/she makes the purchase of the product or service that fills this need. As a clarification, a lead is an Internet user who has voluntarily left certain contact information on your site, becoming part of your database. In exchange for this conversion, this user obtains a benefit from the company.
Since the objective is conversion, the most recommendable contents for this stage are those in which the user will have to provide certain information. Among these contents are e-books. These are very attractive and invite the user to provide their data in exchange for the e-book. In this way, the Internet user receives quality and relevant content completely free of charge and altruistically from the company. Webinars, guides or articles for subscribers are also very seductive. Since within this information, the user provides his or her email address, the firm can begin to have a closer relationship with that person.
At this point, the user has already advanced through the conversion tunnel, being closer to the transaction that will lead him to become a customer. At this point, the strategy consists of accompanying the potential customer and educating him for the moment of purchase. This is where the firm’s products or services are presented. These are presented in such a way that the customer understands that they are the solution to their problems. Thus, the best content for this phase are success stories and testimonials from individuals and companies that have already purchased the products and services. These serve as proof that what the company offers is what the user is looking for.
Once the customer has made the purchase, the process is not over. Inbound marketing seeks a relationship between the firm and the customer that is long-lasting and has a commitment on both sides. If you neglect the customer once you have achieved the transaction, you will be wasting a great potential for future purchases. By pampering the customer through offers, discounts or high-quality content, he will make future purchases and, most importantly, he will act as a promoter of the company. Therefore, they will recommend their experience with the brand to the people closest to them. This will attract more users, who will already have a positive image of the company.
Benefits of inbound marketing.
As we have already explained throughout the text, inbound marketing has many advantages over traditional marketing.
- First of all, by creating relevant and valuable content, search engines will reward the website. Therefore, it will be placed on the first page of search results.
- Thus, the company’s presence on the Internet will increase. This makes it easier to be found by all those people who have needs that the products or services offered by the brand can solve.
- By generating a higher level of users, leads will also increase.
- Therefore, the probabilities of sales will also increase.
- Because the relationship does not end with the transaction, as with other more traditional techniques, the company continues to provide benefits for customers. As you might expect, they will prefer it over the rest of the competition. This generates an increase in lifetime-value. This term is nothing more than the value that a customer has had throughout the company’s lifetime. In other words, the revenue that the brand has received from a single person. On the other hand, if after the purchase the customer does not have any added value from the firm, they may prefer another company in the future that does. This translates into indirectly feeding the competition.
- All this makes the company gain notoriety in the sector, thus having a greater reach, which will result in a saving of resources and a better brand image.
Inbound marketing techniques
Content marketing is a marketing strategy that is part of the inbound methodology. Its purpose is to attract users through the creation of valuable content. To do this, you must know your ideal customer, in order to know what their concerns, preferences, routine and ideals are. This is achieved through the creation of the buyer persona, a fictitious person who responds to the profile of a company’s ideal customer.
The buyer persona is elaborated through different data, such as customer interviews or leads. Once the profile has been created, content that fits this profile must be produced. Content marketing includes different formats, such as social media posts, e-books, podcasts, videos or blog articles. In addition, content marketing is also present after the transaction, being the tool used to build customer loyalty.
The development of quality content that meets the needs of potential customers is essential. However, it must be well positioned in search engines through SEO tools. A good positioning is crucial because without it, it will be difficult to find your content. The key is to be among the first 3 results, to get more traffic. Within SEO, we can differentiate between on-page SEO and off-page SEO. The first of them refers to all the tools used on the website itself, such as loading times, if the page implements responsive design, domains, tags or keywords. On the other hand, the off-page SEO are the tools that help to position your website from outside, through third-party links.
Tools for converting users to leads
Quality content and optimal positioning in search engines increase the number of visitors. The purpose of this increase in traffic is to convert these visitors into leads through contact forms, call to action or chatbots.
Marketing automation is the technique by which the help provided by software is used to carry out actions in an automated way. This makes it possible to respond to the user’s needs at the moment they need it. Automation includes conversion, lead scoring and lead nurturing. Conversion aims, as its name suggests, to transform the user into a lead. This is done through different contents that are highly attractive to the Internet user.
On the other hand, lead scoring tells you about the user’s journey through your digital media. From this information, a score is elaborated. In this way, the company can orient itself and know which Internet users are at the point of being able to receive an offer. Finally, lead nurturing takes the data obtained and uses it to accompany the user until the moment of the transaction.
In short, inbound marketing is a technique with a lot of potential that is based on a fundamental premise: research. Researching your target audience and the best ways to reach them. Once the focus is on the user, all decisions will be well directed. Take advantage of all the clues your audience gives you and tailor your message to their needs.