What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a form of content marketing and refers to the process of creating content that attracts customers to your brand through different channels.

Written by Will Pearson
Published on Dec. 21, 2022
What Is Inbound Marketing?
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Inbound marketing is typically used to entice potential customers that find a company by way of search engines, word of mouth or social media shares. By providing valuable content, companies attract customers that fit into its target market and drive those prospects toward their product.

How to Apply the Inbound Marketing Methodology

  • Attract: Draw in your target audience with valuable content.
  • Engage: Present insights and solutions that align with your target market’s goals.
  • Delight: Emphasize solutions more than features. Nurture relationships with your customers to help them advocate for your product.


How to Execute Inbound Marketing

1. Define Your Target Market

An inbound marketing strategy requires you to define your target market in order to focus the content on specific topics relevant to that audience. If your content is too broad, you risk those potential leads not understanding fully what you do, or having customers who aren’t a good fit for your products and services try to work with you.

Define your target market in a specific, direct way. If you are a B2B (business to business) company, think about the ideal personas, including their title, industry and company size. If you are a B2C (business to consumer) company, think about your ideal customer demographics, whether it’s age, socio-economic status or location.


2. Publish Different Types of Content

Content should not be limited to descriptions on your website. Be creative in thinking through video content, blogs and resources for your site that properly describe your company. As your inbound marketing finds success, you’ll be able to track which methods are most successful through data and marketing analytics. Adjust accordingly.


3. Focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a long-term strategy to increase organic traffic to your site by appearing higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). Typically, the best way to be successful with SEO is to find opportunities within your industry that are lacking content. From there, work on blogs and content related to those topics, then track your ranking on Google.

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4. Use Social Media

You are always one viral post from thousands of visitors to your website. Based on your target market, select a social media platform or two on which you want to focus. For example, if you are a B2B business, LinkedIn might be the best option. If you are a B2C business, posting on Instagram or TikTok might lead to the most shares. Sometimes, you can base a social media strategy on the content you’ve created previously so more eyes see it over time, thereby leading to increased web traffic

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How to Convert Inbound Marketing Leads

After you execute your inbound marketing strategy, you need a process to manage the leads that come in. Intuitively, an inbound lead is going to be much more motivated to use your product or services than an outbound lead because they read content on your website and decided to reach out.

Ensure you have tracking (Google Analytics at the least) set up so you know what content brought in the leads. Feed this information to your sales team so they (or you) can reference that in your first conversation and have a sense for their interests. Always focus on solutions rather than features because these leads came to you with a specific problem they need to solve.

What Is Inbound Marketing, Explained! | Video: Inbound Explained - Digital Marketing


How to Delight Inbound Marketing Leads

The last stage in the process for successful inbound marketing is delighting your leads that have now become customers. The goal is for these customers to become advocates for your company and spread the word. Just as you plan on converting inbound marketing leads, you should have a plan in place to nurture these customers by communicating with them about the product, gathering feedback and addressing their needs.  


Inbound Marketing Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of Inbound Marketing

  • Organic Prospects Can Be Great Customers: As customers find you organically and express interest, their intent is usually quite high, which means they will likely become loyal customers.
  • Cost-Effective: Inbound marketing does not rely on large amounts of advertising or spending. You can invest in inbound marketing slowly and iterate based on results.
  • Controllable: While sometimes it can be difficult to control what is being mentioned about your company online or by word of mouth, your organization clearly defines and writes all of your inbound marketing materials so you control the messaging.


Disadvantages of Inbound Marketing

  • Difficult to Predict: Developing an inbound marketing strategy is not a short-term project. As you build out content, it may take months or years before you start to see a return on investment. 
  • Measuring Success is Challenging: Not only can inbound marketing take a long time to be effective, its impact is not always easy to track. For example, if a lead comes in through organic search, you may not know if they searched your company due to a recommendation or if they came to you through your inbound marketing efforts.
  • Constantly Creating New Content: Coming up with new ideas and content can be cumbersome and time consuming. That said, in order to sustain a strong inbound marketing strategy, you must add new pieces of content consistently and refresh your older content as needed.

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Alternatives to Inbound Marketing

There are many alternatives to inbound marketing including:

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