Brands need not solely rely on paid advertising. Aside from cutting down on costs, you get better ROI while improving your performance by pulling instead of pushing.
Ever wondered why the fidget spinner was a big hit? That simple toy with a ball bearing at the center and three lobes that spin faster as you apply force? As advertised, fidget spinners were designed to relieve stress and increase concentration. The way we see it, fidget spinners are the best way to illustrate how inbound marketing works.
Imagine your ball bearing represents your growth. The three lobes each signify how you attract, engage, and delight your customers. The more you fuel the three lobes, the better your spin, and traction for business growth.
While fidget spinners were banned from some schools for distracting students during class, focusing on inbound marketing can pay off excellently for your business.
In this article, we’ll walk you through more about how inbound marketing works, the right tools to use, strategies, and its benefits. Most importantly, you’ll learn to add momentum to your customer relationships by increasing traction and reducing friction.
The Elements that Define Inbound Marketing
Seasoned digital experts from HubSpot came up with the definition of inbound marketing way back in 2006. Simply put, the business methodology aims to reach more audiences and increase lead generation via quality content and personalized experiences. Through a concentrated digital marketing strategy, potential customers are presented with content that they are looking for rather than out-of-nowhere ads.
Instead of the fidget spinner analogy, HubSpot designed inbound marketing strategies as a flywheel that centers on customer experience and needs. Growth is still at the center, while the three main elements are attracting audiences, engaging followers, and delighting loyal customers.
Perhaps the flywheel is a better business model than your average awareness-interest-desire-action (AIDA) marketing funnel. However, like how the AIDA funnel works, inbound marketing elements also prevent any spillage of your marketing budget and efforts. The only thing different is that it goes beyond converting customers. Your spokes complement each other throughout the customer’s journey so they can continue following your brand as it grows.
In other words, inbound marketing strategies are more comprehensive and long-lasting than the average marketing funnel.
Still, the objectives and definitions between inbound marketing and the traditional marketing funnel are somewhat similar. Inbound marketing tools aim to draw more visitors to your owned and earned media channels rather than push the brand outward through paid advertising. The difference is how inbound marketing strategies intend to be cyclic. Their goals are to continuously increase reach while attaining more quality traffic, engagement, and conversions.
Most key elements for inbound marketing strategies include content marketing, search engine optimization, and curating a brand’s social media profiles. It also relies on amplifying your efforts for your owned and earned media to attract more interest.
However, understanding the three spokes that drive growth is always the first step to genuinely grasping the definition of inbound marketing.
To keep things clear, let’s find out how inbound marketing is somewhat similar to a simple tale of enduring love:
1. Attracting the ones you need
Attracting potential customers and defined buyer personas is somehow like writing letters to your crush. You start writing innocent notes anonymously and let your BFF act as a messenger. Soon, you resort to signed follow-up letters and leave love notes everywhere—that is, if your crush responds. Otherwise, sending more letters and love notes could be sort of creepy.
The only differences in inbound marketing are:
- Secret admirers won’t flourish;
- One messenger won’t be enough; and,
- Follow-up letters are always necessary.
You’ll have to showcase your brand in every content you create and develop. It would also be best if you didn’t stop writing, even if you didn’t get an initial response. Of course, do refrain from resorting to annoying spam content to avoid creeping out your recipients.
In inbound marketing strategies, attracting your target market calls for the excellent curation of your blogs, content offers, and posts on social media. It entails regular brainstorming among your team of content creators to keep your audiences interested and in the loop. Whether free tutorials, promotional offers, or any other form of content, it should always be helpful and evergreen for better SEO.
You can achieve a deeper connection with your audiences by using inbound marketing tools that search for related long and short-tail keywords. These keywords should have low competition with high search volume.
As long as you practice effective SEO, the content you develop has a higher chance to rank on search engines like Google organically. Each time users input the related keywords on their search bars, and your links appear, the more potential customers you can attract and get the word out on your brand.
2. Engaging the ones who click
So now you have your crush’s attention. Cringy as it sounds (but for analogy’s sake), the next step for inbound marketing is engagement. Like most relationships, the main goal is to build a solid foundation that doesn’t become boring.
When providing content for your leads and customers, the best thing to offer them is how much value they can get from having you around for the long term. Inbound marketing strategies that work wonders in engaging customers include inbound sales calls and valuable inbound marketing tools for customer relationship management (CRM). Fit your agents’ responses and content according to the stage of the customer’s journey and ensure that you don’t oversell your product.
What most customers need to hear are solutions to their concerns. The more you can address their pain points, the better you can establish a rewarding relationship with them.
Best of all, you win more quality customer lifetime value and perhaps, walking ambassadors as well. After all, our significant others usually can’t stop talking to their friends about how well we treat them.
3. Delighting the ones that follow
Once you’ve attracted and engaged the apples of your eye, the next step to enduring love is to delight them. Fan the flames of love by letting them know that they are supported even after making a purchase.
Keep your audiences happy and satisfied by strengthening your communication channels and using the right inbound marketing tools. Let your customers know that they can rely on you via hotlines or well-timed surveys to maintain responsive two-way communication.
Another way to let them know that you’re there for them is to develop tailor-fit content. For example, setting up inbound marketing tools such as chatbots or content management platforms like GatherContent can help users familiarize themselves with your products. Satisfaction surveys sent out six months after a customer’s purchase will also give you more insights.
Social media listening is the key to determining which way to go when delighting your audiences. Monitor your social media profiles for comments and feedback, and don’t forget to address your followers’ concerns or share some of your experiences.
The more attentive you are, the more they’ll know you genuinely care about their needs and turn into brand advocates. You are nurturing the commitment to delight your audiences consistently, which can lead to a long-lasting marriage between “Hus-brand” and “Wi-Fi audiences” (We’ll see ourselves out for this one).
SCOPE: The 5 Inbound Marketing Principles
To achieve effective inbound marketing strategies, knowing the puzzle pieces that help you develop content and inform audiences is a must.
Applying the core principles of SCOPE can better illustrate how you should approach your attract, engage, and delight strategies:
1. Standardize your message
As usual, content remains the king when it comes to most campaigns. In inbound marketing, how you tell your brand’s story can spell the difference between a sale and another figure in your bounce rate. Standardizing your brand’s value proposition in a manner that suits every buyer persona across the customer journey ensures consistency.
One good example is how some Pinoy brands resorted to releasing episodic content on social media that their target audiences can follow. In 2020, 79 percent of the companies that released episodic YouTube videos increased their sales, while 64 percent pushed their brand awareness.
2. Contextualize for relevance
After you’ve standardized your content and approach for each customer journey stage, the next step involves customizing your messages.
Consider listing down each persona into a column and addressing their pain points and how you should tell your story. Set your brand essence and arc like a seamless narrative to be sent to your customers at specific timeframes.
A few things to consider when personalizing your messages are your customers’ pain points, where they are in the buyer’s journey, and which channels you should post your content.
As always, resort to solution selling rather than overselling. Most importantly, stay consistent in telling your story throughout the journey.
3. Optimize to retain interest
Inbound marketing strategies also need to be optimized by utilizing data-driven insights that help identify gaps and improvements.
Most inbound marketing tools collect customer information that, in turn, tells your customers’ stories. Email campaigns, for example, will allow you to track open and click-through rates to determine your customers’ level of interest. Complement the data you gather and the trends you observe with relevant content until you achieve your objective to attract, engage, or delight.
Optimization of your inbound marketing efforts and tools should continually evolve according to trends. The more you keep abreast of what your target audiences are looking for, the higher you can improve your lead generation, prospect engagement, and conversions.
4. Personalize to stand out
Filipinos remain the undisputed social media champion with a daily average of four hours and 15 minutes of screentime. That’s why it’s no surprise that many are also annoyed by the volume of unsolicited content they get from their feeds, emails, searches, websites, and apps every day.
How do you stand out? By making them feel special.
When your audiences feel you know what they need and think about your brand, they will share more information. Filling up forms and making comments on your brand profiles on social media are good signs that they are willing to know you better.
Addressing them by their first names always helps to establish a more personal tone. Of course, what’s critical is how you offer solutions, case studies, or content to solve their problems. Doing so will push your potential to enrich your relationships with them.
5. Empathize to build trust
The last principle in every inbound marketing strategy involves what we all have but often forget to show: the human element. Customers become loyal to a brand when they are made to feel important and heard.
While applying human elements in content has been practiced for ages in the industry, minor tweaks are in order when it comes to inbound marketing strategies. You’ll have to take a deeper dive into what motivates or turns off your customers by consulting the data you gather. Once you’ve figured those out, only then should you apply genuine empathy to humanize your strategies.
Take the virtue of empathy as the glue that holds the other four principles together. With a consistent storytelling approach that you can personalize and optimize according to each buyer persona, you get your messages across more efficiently with some human touch.
Inbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing
Undoubtedly, the name of both approaches gives their differences away. The various inbound marketing elements aim to attract more customers, while the other pushes ads outward. Looking at the way both seem to land within the marketing funnel, the former looks more focused on the upper half while the latter falls on the lower part.
However, inbound marketing covers a pipeline-to-pipeline approach from drawing customers to guiding them forward after making a purchase.
To get a clearer perspective, let’s discuss how earned and owned media works to push your inbound marketing strategies:
These are creative assets you use with inbound marketing tools that you produce and have full rights and control in terms of their uses. This set may include your website, blogs, social profiles, and channels which you can populate according to your timeline.
These are the feedback that the social media audiences you’ve reached give you as well as publicity from news and magazine outfits and digital PR. Think of this set as testimonials you can use to push your brand reputation and authority.
From the other end of the spectrum, outbound marketing is more reliant on traditional advertising channels:
This set of creative media assets may include online and offline display ads, pay-per-click (PPC) content, or paid emails. They don’t rely on organic social media postings because increasing your bids can boost their visibility and reach.
However, there’s a big chance that your target audiences may find outbound marketing strategies intrusive and slightly impersonal.
At a glance, you can immediately see by their comparison how inbound marketing can cut down on advertising costs through organic postings. Aside from this, such strategies have a longer lifespan than outbound marketing.
And why is inbound marketing more effective?
In a game of tug-of-war, the objective is always to pull and not to push. The same thing goes in how inbound marketing doesn’t force-feed a brand’s messages to its audiences. Instead, it gets to know them one step at a time then develops stronger relationships.
Inbound marketing also gives better results in reaching more customers through social media and word-of-mouth. It gives consumers the power to decide which purchases to take through meaningful conversations and problem-solving. Besides, today’s consumers are more thoughtful and are not easily ‘sold’ to any impulsive ideas they get from display ads.
Main Benefits of Inbound Marketing
Throughout the article, you can see that inbound marketing strategies offer businesses more benefits than traditional marketing methods. Let’s say you’re organizing a party. You’ll have to invite your guests, persuade them to attend, and open your lines so that they don’t get lost on the way.
Inbound marketing does all that and more:
Reach more of the right audiences for better online traffic
You can broaden your reach through various marketing channels by knowing who’s looking for you online. You can also achieve better results for your digital marketing goals without the added costs of producing paid ads.
Get more quality customers
You have better chances of landing quality customers who can offer better customer lifetime value if you pull them inward. Once you’ve shown that you are a trustworthy brand through creative content, your brand will always be top-of-mind when it’s time to make a purchase.
Spread the word out
Inbound marketing also prevents you from being pigeonholed into one online channel. The more you broaden your reach and gain brand advocates, the better you’ll perform on organic searches, referrals, and backlinking from other authority sites.
Other Considerations When Performing Inbound Marketing
Before starting your inbound marketing strategy, you should first determine your key performance indicators.
- Do you need to measure ROI?
- Do you need to monitor engagement and PPC figures?
- Do you need to track the number of leads generated?
- What about reducing the bounce rates from your websites?
These are just some of the questions that you’ll need to answer first before you set your inbound marketing tools and strategies in place. Ensure that you’re measuring the inbound marketing elements that align with your goals. Doing so will give you better insights for future improvements.
You’ll also have to develop the patience of Job as results don’t come in overnight. Plan for the long-term and don’t be annoyed if some ‘trial and error’ are necessary from time to time. Most inbound marketing strategies are continuously implemented and improved by a team of content managers, designers, developers, and elite marketers. Given the number of people with various functions, some mistakes may be inevitable but efforts are never futile.
If you can place your investment chips in the correct slots, you can get your customers on board for the long haul. And the more spin you put on your fidget spinner, the better your growth potential will be as you move forward.