What is Inbound Marketing? | A handy introduction to 21st century marketing

Inbound marketing is about developing a marketing strategy that not only works for you, the business owner, but also works for the potential customer by providing them with entertaining and engaging content.

One of the main features of inbound marketing is the voluntary participation of the customer. Rather than you interrupting them to sell your message, they should be coming to you to hear it. It sounds tricky but it isn’t. All it takes is some research and organisation.

The HubSpot flywheel – Attract, Engage, Delight – is a great visual explanation of the three fundamental features of inbound marketing.

The First Stage of Digital Marketing

Digital marketing, in simple terms, is any form of marketing that occurs online. The first stage of being a successful business owner is accepting that digital marketing is the new mode of marketing and without it, any business will suffer.

Digital marketing encompasses a variety of marketing strategies from pay-per-click to email marketing. Inbound is just one aspect of digital marketing and, we would argue, should be the very first step a business takes when launching its digital marketing strategy.

Content creation, through blog posts, infographics and promotional material, increases a website’s SEO whilst also conveying the company’s personality and ethos. Having a consistent and engaging blog firmly establishes the company as an influential and authoritative figure within the industry. It builds trust and confidence. That is the power of the written word – provided content is well-written.

Some might argue that social media marketing is more important than inbound marketing as a company’s first step into the digital world. However, a good social media strategy is reliant on the existence of good content. Inbound lays the foundation for a social media presence.

Affordable Marketing Solutions

Another key aspect of inbound is its affordability. Indeed, any business owner could start writing a regular blog and post it on their website and voila, they have initiated an inbound strategy for no cost at all.

Obviously, this is not possible for all business owners, but content creation can still be inexpensive when you use an external party. The cost of an inbound strategy can be as high or as low as you want it to be, depending on your desired outcome.

If you want the outcome of your marketing strategy to be the immediate arrival of new customers then an inbound strategy encompassing content creation, discounts, and customer registration would be appropriate.

If you want to build a relationship with previous customers or establish yourself as a trustworthy and influential brand in your industry, then perhaps an engaging blog and a vibrant social media presence will be all you require.

“Content is king” – Bill Gates

In January of 1996, Bill Gates declared in an essay that content is “where much of the real money will be made on the internet” and over the last two decades he has been proven right.

Whether it be blog posts, memes, gifs, pictures, vlogs or any other format, content populates the internet. The most popular websites around are generally sites used to host and organise that content for us.

Whilst huge amounts of this content are irresistibly engaging and delightful, even larger amounts are sub-par and fail to attract.

Inbound operates as a feedback mechanism:

  • Good content strengthens your brand and attracts customers.
  • Bad content weakens your brand and pushes customers away.

This adds an element of risk to an inbound strategy but, as all business owners know, what is business without risk?

Finding a good digital marketing agency can help mitigate that risk so be sure to do your research before you step into the world of inbound marketing.

Step-by-step Guide to an Inbound Marketing Strategy

  1. Create a page on your website where you can post articles.
  2. Name that page ‘Blog’ or think of a fun and engaging name.
  3. Write at least 5 articles before uploading any to your site. A blog with only a few articles looks unprofessional.
  4. If you are unable to write your own posts, find an external digital marketing agency to do it for you.
  5. Give your blog posts titles that consider keywords and SEO. SEMrush is a good site for finding out keywords for your website.
  6. Upload your articles along with inbound links, outbound links and images.
  7. Ensure that images are of an appropriate size and have relevant file names.
  8. If you don’t already have a social media presence, create one. Facebook and Instagram are the two most important social media sites, but it may depend on your business.
  9. Share the blog posts you have created on your social media page.
  10. Keep track of the performance of your posts through services like Google Analytics.
  11. Assess which articles performed well and which ones didn’t.
  12. Consider this information when writing future blog posts.
  13. Think of methods of having your website’s link on other sites. This increases your index ratings on search engines.
  14. Step 13 can be done by consistently creating good content, but it may also be worth reaching out to website owners.
  15. Ensure that your blog has an element of consistency to it. Writing a few blog posts every week is the best way of staying in your customer’s imagination.
  16. Make your content varied and adaptive. Surprise customers with your creativity and ability to think out-of-the-box. Sometimes this may require thinking about your industry as a whole and writing an article about that.

Maintain your business’ personality throughout your blog posts. Clients should be able to detect the ethos and vision of your business through your blog posts.

About the Authors:

Cameron and Finn are two brothers who are passionate about digital marketing and even more passionate about written content.

Cameron specialises in long-form content, SEO and keyword strategies. Whereas Finn specialises in web design, inbound marketing and paid social.

In their spare time, they are aspiring novelists and occasional poets. They both enjoy travelling. learning, and new adventures.

Join them as they leap into digital!
Follow Finn and Cameron Grant on LinkedIn to see their posts and insights on the world of digital marketing.

Post Summary:

This article contains detailed instructions on how to initiate an Inbound Marketing strategy focussed on 'Attract, Engage and Inspire'. Scroll down to find a step-by-step guide that will make Inbound Marketing extremely easy.