What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is a new concept of dealing with customers and a methodology for acquiring and maintaining customers. It’s based on being helpful, human and customer oriented in all phases of the customer acquisition process, and includes techniques and channels based on Internet, like social media marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing and content marketing.
Inbound marketing focuses on building trust relationships with customers and employees, and aligning all the incentives with the organization incentives.
The main difference with “outbond” marketing is that inbound marketing prioritizes connections and trust over response tactics. Using inbound marketing, brands create useful content that address real problems. This content attracts potential customers and starts creating a trust relationship with the brand.
The concept of inbound marketing began in the 2000s thanks to the popularization of Internet. As brands began to see the value of content that attracted potential customers into them, inbound marketing appeared as a new method of business growth.
Before inbound marketing, many businesses marketing strategy was based on advertising through traditional channels and business growth was mainly based on selling a good product. Many campaigns were based on sales pitches and slogans. But now, brands like Apple, Airbnb and Spotify, not only focus their strategy on good products or services, but also on building strong relationships with customers and employees.
With inbound marketing, pitches and slogans are replaced with useful content and storytelling. Internet allows people to compare and analyze hundred of products. Using an smartphone or a computer, we can check the price and reviews of many products in a few minutes. Now, consumers disdain pitches and slogans and are looking for information that allows them to better solve problems or satisfy needs.
Inbound Marketing Examples
Airbnb is an example of a successful company which grew thanks to inbound marketing. Airbnb is active on all major social media channels: Facebook , Instagram, YouTube and Twitter. They post relevant and useful content, that is engaging and attractive.
Airbnb has a blog that is an useful resource for travelers (and potential leads).
Airbnb not only focuses on travelers, but they also give importance to hosts. For example, Airbnb has a network of more than three thousands freelance photographers that can be used by hosts to take quality pictures of the housing. This is a superb example of aligning all different relationships (potential customers, hosts, photographers and employees) with the organization strategy. Better photos become the site more attractive to users searching for a place to stay.
Airbnb publishes several guides and magazines, like Airbnb Neighborhoods, Pineapple, Stories (a microsite with videos of hosts and travelers).
All this different media channels allows Airbnb to rank high on search results. Airbnb also uses Internet display advertising to attract customers into it’s website.
Apple has a superb product to sell, but a strong pillar of it’s success is inbound marketing. Apple has given a strong focus on community, converting users of it’s products into evangelists. Apple has a massive number of followers that allows the company to spread every innovation and new product or feature easily.
Key in Apple strategy is the brand image. Apple products are not only viewed as great devices from the technological point of view, but also beautiful designed and user friendly. Apple is a superb company not only in giving the customer what it wants, but also in creating new necessities. Apple is ahead of the competition in creating and marketing new products.
Phases of Inbound Marketing
The phase is focused on creating quality content targeting the right people. It can be done in several ways, but usually involves blogging, online communities and other content strategy, social media (Youtube, Twitter, etc.) and Search Engine Marketing.
2 - Convert
Once a visitor has been attracted by useful content, this phase focuses on creating a conversation channel that can potentially raise awareness of the company and the product, in order to convert a visitor into a lead.
Tools used in this phase can be chats, emails, forms and Customer Relationship Management Systems (CRMs).
A lead is someone that is considering the product as a mean to solve a problem. In this phase, content marketing is focused on tranform the lead into an actual customer.
4- Customer Service and Relationship
After a sale has been closed, inbound marketing focuses on engage and delight. A happy customer will come back again for future purchases and will spread the world about your product on channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and online forums.