Helping you implement inbound marketing in your business.
The Ultimate guide to Inbound Marketing breaks down everything you want to know about inbound marketing - from what exactly it is to how you can use it to create a soundproof marketing strategy that grows your business.
How do you create an effective online marketing strategy that allows you to grow your brand?
If this is a question you’ve asked yourself or something you’ve been trying to achieve then it’s likely that you’ve heard about inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is not just a buzzword. It’s a tried and true method to get great growth. But how do you do it well?
If you’re not getting the growth you want, we’re here to help. Inbound marketing might sound simple but it’s not. Why? Because it’s human. And we all know humans aren’t always simple.
This guide breaks down everything you want to know about inbound marketing - from what exactly it is to how you can use it to create a soundproof marketing strategy that grows your business.
Download The Socialike Ultimate Guide to Inbound Marketing
Put simply, inbound marketing focuses on getting inside the head of your ideal customer and creating content that speaks to them wherever they are in the buyer's journey.
Content that speaks to your audience has a few key characteristics - it’s timely, engaging and relevant. It speaks to their specific interests, goals and challenges before it helps solve them. When people solve their own problems they feel empowered. Empowered people are loyal customers meaning they’re more likely to come back time and time again.
For example, say you’re feeling unproductive and decide that you need a bit of help to focus. You quickly open Google and search for how you can be more productive. You then click on the first thing that appears - a blog with tips and tricks from your favourite entrepreneurs about productivity. The blog eventually mentions an app that will help you with yours (or lack of it). You’re interested, but the time isn’t just quite right.
Days later, you’re browsing on Facebook (procrastinating, again), and you see a video ad for the app further explaining the
How is this an example of inbound marketing? It’s the fact that the purchase seems totally natural to you - you didn’t even see the initial blog as an advertisement. You had a problem, you Googled for a solution and you got an answer. You didn’t feel pressured to buy on the spot but decided after seeing the product for a second time that it was right for you.
However, although you were very in control with this purchase let us reassure you it wasn’t a complete fluke. With every good bit of content there’s a dedicated team with a great inbound marketing strategy showing why you need a product, in this case, an app. And that’s the magic of inbound marketing. It’s humans speaking to humans and it’s working with your customers so you both win.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INBOUND AND OUTBOUND MARKETING?
Most people trace the birth of inbound marketing back to when HubSpot coined the term in 2006.
To understand how inbound came about, we first have to explain what outbound marketing is. Inbound marketing was born because outbound marketing had become less effective.
Outbound marketing is often called “traditional marketing”. It’s things that are “out there”, like billboards, radio ads and spam emails. You put one message out to the masses and hope someone listens. Outbound marketing techniques have a time and place but increasingly they’re becoming less effective.
Why did outbound marketing loose its touch?
How many ads do you think you see a day? If you guessed somewhere between 2000 and 5000 you’re about right. How many ads do you remember? There’s a few classics you’ll know but more often than not your brain has become great at tuning out outbound marketing.
The Internet Came Along
It’s fair to say the internet flipped marketing on its head for two reasons. First, people paid more attention to it than the traditional marketing channels of TV and radio. Second, it made it much easier to consume stuff you cared about and not just what was on offer (think Netflix). This freedom to choose what we consume means that people now want to be marketed to and not at. They need powerful, personalised experiences to be convinced that something is actually worth investing in.
You’ll have reduced expenses
Let’s start with the hard numbers. Doing inbound marketing is cheaper than doing outbound marketing. On average, inbound marketing leads cost 61% less than leads from traditional marketing.
This makes sense. As you’re more focussed on reaching people who care about your product you spend less than if you were trying to market to everyone.
People trust your brand and give it more credit
Remember, inbound marketing is all about making meaningful content and empowering customers. Most people would agree that it’s much easier to trust a brand that speaks to their needs than one that just says “buy this”.
Customer testimonials, social media posts and blogs that talk about case studies are all inbound marketing techniques that can pay off big time. For 50% of all consumers, their very next step after reading a positive review about a company is to visit their website
It gives you powerful data to keep improving your marketing with
Another reason why people love inbound marketing is that although it’s mainly focussed on warm human interaction and connection it also delivers cold hard data for you to make decisions with.
You can track blog performance, website visits, click through rates and much more to understand if the assumptions you had about your customers are correct - otherwise it is all just guess work at the end of the day.
The people who you attract are more likely to become customers
According to HubSpot, inbound marketing practices produce 54% more leads than traditional outbound practices. This is crucial since it costs 6-7 times more to attract new customers than bring old ones back. If you’re focussing on getting new customers then getting results matters.
What’s even better is that since you’re likely to be talking to the right people, once you’ve attracted them they’re more likely to engage with you and take an interest. 57% of marketers who were committed to blogging monthly could trace customers back to their blogs and SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate as compared to outbound leads at 1.7%.
HOW IS INBOUND MARKETING DIFFERENT TO DIGITAL MARKETING?
Many people struggle to see the difference between digital marketing and inbound marketing. So how exactly are they different?
A simple explanation is that digital marketing is your marketing toolbox while inbound marketing is the plan for what you’re going to build with the tools or how you’re going to use them.
Digital marketing relates to any tool being used online. It doesn’t matter if what you’re doing is inbound or outbound marketing. Spam emails are an example of digital marketing because you receive them online. However, they’re definitely not an example of inbound marketing as they are not personalised, educational and are often very unwelcome by the person receiving them.
If you’re wanting to read a bit more about specific digital marketing tools, such as search engine optimization (SEO), email marketing and pay per click (PPC), we have a full page which breaks them down. But for now, we’ll dive into the method of inbound marketing and just how you can use it to get great growth.
Creating valuable content that catches the eye of the people you want to reach.
Showing people insights and solutions that tell them exactly why they need your product or service (so they’re more likely to buy from you!).
Giving people the help and support they need to get the most out of your product or service.
When people first find your product or service, use it, like it and then tell other people, it means that more and more people keep coming back. This creates a loop which HubSpot has termed the ‘flywheel’.
The flywheel puts customers in the centre of everything a business does - whether it be their marketing, their sales or the customer service they give people through the buyer's journey. This is something to pay attention to. Up until the flywheel came about customers were often an afterthought in marketing efforts.
Returning customers who bring in new ones builds momentum and keeps the wheel spinning. How you keep that momentum going though depends on the digital marketing tools that you choose to use and when.
- Social Media
- Content Strategy
- Lead Flows
- Email Marketing
- Lead Management
- Conversational Bots
- Marketing Automation
- Smart Content
- Email Marketing
- Conversations Inbox
- Attribution Reporting
- Marketing Automation
IMPLEMENTing AN INBOUND MARKETING STRATEGY
By now you’re probably thinking about your business and what you currently do within it. What are you currently using? Is it really giving you the results you want? Growth doesn’t just happen. Ultimately inbound marketing is a strategy and so thoughtful application of it is necessary to create effective growth.
There are specific strategies for each inbound marketing method of attracting, engaging, and delighting consumers to keep your flywheel spinning and help your business grow.
But creating a great inbound marketing strategy starts with first getting laser focus on a few things.
Know your brand
Never underestimate the power of a brand. Your brand is what sets you apart from your competition - and that’s a must if you want to grow. You might sell the same product or service as those around you but your brand makes you unique.
If you think your brand is simply your logo it’s actually much more. It’s how you walk the walk and talk the talk. How do people feel when they interact with you? What are the core values of why you do exactly what you do? That’s just as much as your brand as the font you use or the colours you use.
Having a solid brand doesn’t mean that you need to change anything you already have. But to have a meaningful conversation with your customers you need to know exactly who you are, which might take a bit of work if you’re still figuring this out.
Know who’s at the heart of the flywheel
Who’s at the heart of the flywheel? That’s right, it’s your customers. To get serious results from your inbound marketing strategy you have to get serious about who you’re talking to. At Socialike, we do this by creating effective buyer personas.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. Properly defined buyer personas are created through a combination of market research, customer interviews, and any other insights that you have available.
Who do you want to talk to and where do they hangout online? What problems do they have and how can you position yourself as the perfect solution? These are all questions that can help start you creating your buyer personas.
Good buyer personas create growth by making the conversations with your customers highly personalised and relevant. Ever thought a company had just what you needed? They probably had well thought out buyer personas.
Know your goals
Of course, it goes without saying that a good strategy has to actually aim for something. This will shape how and where you engage with people.
At Socialike, we begin by looking at how a business wants to grow, develop SMART goals, and then work backwards to develop successful campaigns and outperform the competition.
Understand how you’ll attract, engage and delight
Once you’ve done your homework you can start working on creating your inbound marketing strategy and what digital marketing tools you’ll use to attract, engage and delight your audience.
Although a general overview, here are some of the tactics you’ll want to consider using at each stage, depending on your audience and your marketing goals.
Focus on creating and publishing content to reach the people that you want to know about your business. A few techniques we use here at Socialike are:
Content marketing is the staple of a great inbound marketing strategy. Valuable content draws the right people in and establishes you as someone who they’ll want to do business with.
Blogging is a great way to attract people to your website. Writing relevant, engaging and unique content that stands out will give you a tool that you can use for a long time. Keep your buyer personas top of mind and think of how you can speak directly to them.
Research from our partners at HubSpot has found that on average a company that blogs will generate 55% more website visitors, 97% more inbound marketing links and 434% more indexed pages.
Blogging is not the only kind of content marketing that you should be focussing on. Why? Blogs can help get people’s attention but aren’t always great at getting peoples contact information - which is gold for any good inbound marketer.
In order to get someone's contact information, you need to offer something of value in exchange. This typically comes in the form of more premium content, like e-books, whitepapers and webinars.
Again, personas are key to developing good premium content. You also want to think about where someone is in their customer journey - what steps do they take when they buy from you? With content, we look at there being three distinct stages of the customer journey where different content is important:
Social media is crucial for helping you grow. 54% of social browsers use social media to research products so it’s a great place to get people’s attention.
When working on your social media strategy, focus on mastering one or two platforms where you know your audience lives. Quality over quantity is key here. If your audience isn’t on TikTok, you don’t need to be on the platform. Monitor new platforms to see if your audience is active on there, but don’t burn yourself out trying to chase every new platform.
With social media, you should focus on a few kinds of content:
- Content that helps get people to your website. This might be by sharing links to blogs, ebooks or special deals.
- Content that promotes your brand, engages people but lets them keep scrolling. Infographics, videos and quotes can add value by showing you know your stuff and might peak someone's interest down the line when they see your name again.
- Content from other businesses. This can help increase your businesses reach and attract more people to your website. If you start sharing posts from another blog that you follow, that blogger will see and will be much more likely to return the favor, sharing your content with their followers.
Creating content that’s genuinely helpful is a necessary part of inbound marketing, but sometimes it’s not enough on its own. It’s just as important to include content promotion in your strategy. After all, people can only benefit from your content if they can find it first.
Research from the Content Marketing Institute found that 91% of top-performing content marketers use paid advertising to promote it.
To get your content in front of the right audience, paid advertising is a powerful tactic to add to your inbound marketing strategy.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
To complement paid advertising, you also want to make an effort to ensure people are able to find your website without paid tactics - also known as “organic traffic”.
Since driving organic traffic is such a major portion of inbound marketing, having access to data to inform your keyword strategy is essential. SEO tools, like SEMrush will allow you to look into keyword rankings and domain authority. We recommend focusing SEO efforts on long-tail keywords as they’ll result in more highly qualified traffic.
Communicate and further educate the people that are interested in knowing more about what you sell or do.
Email is a great way to send relevant content to the people that you want to care about your brand (and buy from you!).
The key to making email marketing work is to make sure you’re saying right things to the right people at the right time, also known as email segmentation. According to HubSpot, 77% of the results people got from email marketing in 2015 came from segmented, targeted, and triggered emails.
The world’s your oyster with email marketing - you can send monthly newsletters, offers, blogs and more to get your customers to see that you get them and their needs. But, you have to know what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to for it to be effective.
Chatbots are awesome for two reasons:
- They automate a great experience. Chatbots can help guide people to information that they’re wanting about your product/service, book a meeting with you or even make a purchase - all with you not needing to lift a finger. When creating a chatbot, make sure you focus on how it can make the lives of your prospects and customers easier. Keep your buyer personas in mind as you develop chat scripts and ensure that you are writing conversations.
- They collect customer data. When people give chatbots a name, email or phone number in exchange for a bit of help you get a valuable bit of customer data. This means you can follow up with the customer to make sure they were able to get the information they needed and offer further assistance with additional information.
Just like Chatbots, forms help you get information about the people visiting your website so you can connect with them. Forms usually ask for your name and email address but can also ask for job title, company size or any other information you like to break your customers down by (again, this comes back to your buyer personas and your overall marketing strategy).
People don’t fill forms out just for fun - remember, this is why developing good content is key. Don’t bog them down by asking them stuff that seems irrelevant to the task at hand - no one needs to tell you what their favourite film of all time is just so they can read your blog (unless of course, it’s a blog about people’s favourite films of all time).
Mirror your form to the buyer's journey. If someone is just finding you, ask more general questions. If someone is further down the line (say they’re filling out a “contact me” form) and seems ready to buy then you can ask more in depth information. This will mean that you can have the right conversation with them and let them know just how you’ll be able to help them.
Building relationships with people is the only way you are going to build a successful brand. If people are ready to build one with you, don’t make them wait.
If you’re using marketing automation software like HubSpot, setting up an automated email campaign is easy. If someone comes and downloads a bit of content, chats with a Chatbot or gives you their details you can then guide them through a specific email flow targeted to help them get to a place where they’re keen to buy.
According to HubSpot, “50% of leads are qualified but not ready to buy. So if you’re not nurturing them, you are simply burning money.”
We often find people neglect this area simply because they don’t see the value in doing so, when in fact the opposite is true! Remember that it costs 6-7 times more to bring on new customers. Delighting people brings consistent revenue without that cost. Word of mouth marketing has also consistently been found to be the most powerful. Delight people and you’re onto a winning marketing strategy.
Customer Engagement Campaigns
You already know how to talk to the people that have bought from you, so how do you keep delighting them? Some ideas for customer engagement campaigns include:
- Exclusive offers and content
- In-person events
- A monthly email with updates, offers and content
- Loyalty program
- Exclusive webinars
- Competitions (as mentioned below you can also ask for feedback on what they’d like to see more of!)
Bring to mind the worst customer support you’ve experienced. Now make sure to be the opposite of that.
Make sure that you’ve got great customer support. How this looks differs for all businesses and is a lengthy topic to get into. But we think this guide from HubSpot is a great start.
Keep asking for feedback too. Surveys like the net promoter score (NPS) survey help you measure your customer’s satisfaction and allow you to know how you can keep evolving to create your best brand.
The final step to great inbound marketing is using the right tools to get there. Once you know your audience’s wants, needs, and pain points and the ways that you are going to attract, engage and delight them, you then need a tool that makes this easy to do.
HubSpot is an inbound marketing tool that makes your marketing both easier and more measurable. It’s an all-in-one marketing, sales, and service platform that provides you with the tools you need to create a remarkable customer experience that helps you grow.
Designed for businesses of all sizes, HubSpot features a customer relationship management tool (CRM), a Marketing Hub, and a Sales Hub. It also allows you to create remarkable web pages with ease using its content management system (CMS). Both the Marketing and Sales hubs have free software you can access, as well as paid subscriptions for additional features - together the tools are designed so you can attract, engage and delight your audience at every stage of their journey. We’ve explained how they can help you grow here.
We know that implementing an inbound marketing strategy from scratch can feel overwhelming and time consuming. Using the right tools, such as a platform like HubSpot is a great place to start, but bringing on a partner can make sure you’re not wasting, time, energy and budget trying to teach yourself the ropes.
Good inbound marketing requires a solid foundation that can scale with you as your business grows. On top of knowing who you’re targeting, you need to be able to reach them where they’re at in a contextually-relevant way, with well thought out tactics to attract, engage and delight them. Inbound marketing is a long game. The return that you’ll see from it is much better than outbound but it can take time to get off the ground.
A partner can help set you up for the long haul and help you get some quick wins while your strategy is gaining traction.
Socialike is all about being better together and can help you with your inbound marketing in many different ways including:
- Inbound Strategy Development
- Buyer Persona Development & Customer Journey Mapping
- Conversion Path Creation
- Ad Development & Management
- Email Marketing
- Lead Nurturing & Automation