Inbound marketing is any marketing campaign in which consumers initiate interaction with a brand. This allows them to attract potential customers with value-added content and/or experiences tailored to their interests. This organically connects the possibility to the brand.
According to a report by Statista, 29% of US B2B companies plan to explore inbound marketing as a marketing strategy in 2021. This is categorized below:
- Account-Based Marketing (ABM): 46%
- Video Marketing: 41%
- Marketing influence: 38%
- AI: 38%
- Retargeting: 33%
- Allocation: 32%
History of internal marketing
Business owners have used inbound marketing tactics for decades. However, the founders of HubSpot, a Cambridge, MA-based marketing and sales software provider, are said to have formally defined these marketing strategy concepts in the early 2000s.
HubSpot defines inbound marketing as “a business methodology that engages customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them,” according to John Dick, senior vice president of marketing at HubSpot. “While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, the inbound marketing models they are looking for and solving problems they actually face.”
HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah met at the MIT Sloan School of Management in 2004. They noticed a shift in the way people shop and buy, according to Dick. Consumers no longer tolerate sporadic bids to get their attention; In fact, Dick added, they were immune to these traditional methods of being outside. The founders devised a new method of marketing: inbound marketing. This allowed companies to match their marketing with the way buyers like to buy, Dick said.
“They created a new type of marketing application to help them achieve this by adding value rather than extracting it,” he added. “Today, the incoming movement continues to enable companies around the world to stop boycotting, start helping and refocusing on the customer.”
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Internal Marketing vs External Marketing
Internal marketing governs customers and prospects without contacting them directly. Outbound marketing specifically targets them through tactics such as email marketing bombings.
“The comparison between inbound marketing and outbound marketing is clear,” said Kristen Bowes, associate vice president of marketing at All Campus. “Internal marketing is an attraction strategy that attracts potential customers through relevant, useful or purposeful content, while outward marketing is a push strategy that aims to intersect targeted prospects with the brand’s message.”
With inbound marketing, the customer initiates the interaction while the marketer initiates the call to outbound marketing, according to Bob Conklin, solution marketing leader at Adobe. Conklin adds that outbound marketing often sends a message to an overwhelming number of people in the hope of making a sale. This strategy, he said, is rooted in the idea that the larger the group you send a message to, the higher the return.
“In contrast, inbound marketing is usually more subtle and focused on persuading a particular group or individual to make a purchase over time,” Conklin said. “It must also be said, though, that more targeted versions of outbound marketing—for example, used in conjunction with account-based marketing strategies—are emerging. For most businesses, the best bet is a combination of inbound marketing and outbound targeted marketing. “.
Inbound Marketing vs. Content Marketing
Bowes said the comparisons between inbound marketing and content marketing are less straightforward, and they actually have more similarities than differences. Well-designed content is fundamental to every strategy. This is a less intrusive form of marketing with the common goal of generating awareness, building relationships, and converting.
“When it comes to targeting, inbound marketing focuses on specific potential personalities, while content marketing has a much broader reach,” Bowes said.
Content marketing is part of the inbound marketing puzzle, according to Conklin. He added that personal, relevant and engaging content is essential to capture and keep customers’ attention.
“While content plays a vital role in inbound marketing, it is only one part of the equation,” Conklin said. “Inbound also requires marketers to place content successfully; and to know how to present it to customers.”
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Examples of inbound marketing
Inbound marketing continues to evolve, according to Dick. In the early days, it was largely blogs and ebooks, but marketers have adapted to the customers and the technology they use has evolved. Freemium gives customers the ability to chat, interact with businesses, and purchase on their own terms.
Here are some examples of inbound marketing:
HubSpot’s Adapt Series includes webinars and blogs
Dick cited a specific example of inbound marketing in a campaign his teams created for clients during the height of the pandemic called “Adaptation.” Adapt was a series that leveraged trend data, webinars, blog content, and more to help customers and the community weather the COVID-19 storm.
“Every week, we pull anonymous customer reference data so that our community can have a baseline of what others in similar industries and regions are experiencing,” Dick said. “All of this content was completely free, and it was based on what people actually wanted to learn, which made it appealing. The impact of Adapt can be seen in the thousands of people who have signed up and watched different parts of our content. This is an example of meeting readers wherever they are with education that helps them to solve their own challenges.
Inbound Marketing Features SEO & Social Media Marketing
Inbound marketing comes in many forms, including search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing, blogging, email, events, and lead management efforts, according to Bose. Charts and interaction tools such as tests and surveys are also very effective tactics to incorporate into incoming executions.
“Incorporating these diverse tactics – while ensuring that they are backed by relevant and engaging content – are really the keys to a strong internal marketing strategy,” Bowes said.
SEO at work: Finding new marketing products
Each internal marketing strategy works together to move customers along their buyer journey, Conklin said.
A simplified example might be a customer looking for a new marketing analytics tool. The customer starts by searching for “marketing analytics” in their search engine and clicking on the first organic result. “The result turned out to be a blog about the pros and cons of the various tools of analysis,” Conklin said. “At the end of the article there is a link to a webinar to learn more about marketing analytics tools. The customer signs up for the webinar and is now more involved in the buyer’s journey.”
What techniques support the internal marketing strategy?
The core technology components of an internal marketing strategy include a content management system (CMS) and a customer relationship management system (CRM) for managing leads, marketing automation software, web analytics, and social media monitoring tools, according to Bose. “Given the size of the moving parts of any marketing strategy, a project management tool is essential,” she added.
Brands need a variety of technology and software to successfully carry out inbound marketing, according to Conklin. Some techniques to consider include:
- Customer data platforms: CDPs collect and analyze customer data that consolidates data across multiple technologies into a single customer view.
- Marketing automation: These solutions allow marketers to organize customer engagement across channels and capture and manage leads.
- Content Management Systems: CMS helps marketers turn content into exceptional digital experiences that earn engagement.
- Marketing Analytics: These platforms allow marketers to see how campaigns are performing, modify campaigns as needed, and justify their efforts.
- Artificial intelligence: Artificial intelligence is embedded in many of the technologies mentioned above. AI makes it easier for companies to match the right people with the right content. Companies are increasingly allowing AI to make real-time decisions about what content is being served, and the scale of AI will continue to grow, according to Conklin.
Related Article: What is a Content Experience Platform?
What problems does inbound marketing solve?
Inbound marketing can help brands solve a variety of issues, including:
Creates delightful customer experiences
Inbound marketing helps create an exhilarating customer experience from a customer’s first interaction with your company, according to Dick. “Philosophically, it’s more about educating customers to help them reach their purchasing decisions rather than relying on what the salesperson says,” he added.
Builds strong membership acquisition channels
Inbound marketing helps build strong organic acquisition channels that lower your customer acquisition costs (CAC) and help your business expand. “In 2021 and beyond, consumers are in control; in fact, they have been for a while,” Dick said. In addition to reading educational content and blogs, clients research their decisions through review sites, their own networks, and their vibrant communities. Colleagues who have strong opinions believe strongly. Inbound marketing is about being in the right place, with the right education, when your clients and potential clients are looking for help.”
Creates qualified leads
Inbound marketing can solve many marketing challenges. It can help brands increase brand awareness, increase website traffic, generate and nurture leads, retain existing customers and increase conversion, according to Bose.
She said, “These are similar to the problems that external marketing can help solve, but the main difference is that internal marketing often produces better quality leads at a lower cost.”
Enables consumers to search on their own terms
Today’s customers want to do their own research before buying, Conklin said, and that research often begins online. Internal marketing allows consumers to conduct their research in a less intrusive manner on their own terms – where, when and how they prefer it. The role of a brand is to provide relevant content on the right channels to attract the right customer.
“Another benefit of inbound marketing is that it’s quantifiable,” he said. “Every component of an internal marketing campaign can be tracked and improved over time.”
Getting started with Inbound Marketing
One of the most important first steps marketers can take while developing an inbound marketing strategy is to make sure you have an understanding of your intended target audience, according to Bose. “This is the foundation that provides the ability to create the right mix of topics and tone for your content,” she said. “It is also important to define your goals. Do you want to increase site traffic? Achieving weekly or monthly lead volumes? Want to generate a certain number of downloads?”
Creating a sponsorship strategy, whether it’s through email automation, a powerful incoming call center, or both, is a major initial step. “A portion of your audience will turn high in the conversion funnel, but most of them need extra touches to reach your goal, so creating a sponsorship strategy that represents each stage of the funnel is critical,” Bowes added.
Conklin said that the first thing marketers need to do to start an internal marketing strategy is to understand the customer journey. They need to know what questions customers are asking and at what stage of the journey they are asking them, so that marketers can create content that answers questions or provides a solution to a problem.
“Once marketers know what types of content they can share to engage the consumer, they need to start creating it,” he said. “Inbound marketing tends to be at the top of the funnel — its purpose is to reach consumers at the beginning of the buyer’s journey, and then guide them through each stage.”