What is inbound marketing?

What is Inbound Marketing?

What is inbound marketing?Is the term “inbound marketing” a complete mystery to you? If so, you’re not alone! Even those in the business of inbound marketing don’t always agree on its exact meaning. The term “inbound marketing,” is sometimes used interchangeably with “content marketing.” Branded terms like Jay Baer’s “YOUtility” further attempt to clarify the mystery by indicating that it’s useful.

"Inbound marketing is like courtship from a candid suitor:  it woos customers with honesty rather than candy-coated prose." KatherineTo me, inbound marketing is marketing that people love. It fills a need at the right time, in the right format, on the right platform and guides your visitors into a sales funnel that they actually enjoy.

I had an opportunity to collaborate on HubSpot’s new ebook, “The ABCs of Inbound Marketing,” and it got me thinking – how do other professionals explain what inbound marketing means?

How Inbound Marketing Professionals Define Their Marketing Strategy

“Inbound Marketing is fun, effective and trackable marketing– being there when prospects search, it’s my kind of marketing!!” Melanie Taljaard, @mtaljaardI asked around on Twitter for some inbound marketing professionals’ one-sentence answers to “What is Inbound Marketing?” Here’s what they said:

  • “Inbound Marketing is fun, effective and trackable marketing– being there when prospects search, it’s my kind of marketing!!” Melanie Taljaard, @mtaljaard
  • “Instead of trying to seek out potential customers, #InboundMarketing helps potential customers find you!” Cody Frew, @cody_frew
  • “Inbound marketing empowers marketers to attract visitors, convert leads, close customers and delight promoters.” Mark Kilens,  @MarkKilens
  • “It’s the Process of understanding what your client needs to know about your product then deliver in a relevant way.” Heidi Garland, @GuildWest
  • “Instead of trying to seek out potential customers, #InboundMarketing helps potential customers find you!” Cody Frew
    “Inbound Marketing is like a well-crafted spiderweb – engaging visitors rather than chasing after them.” Heather Sloan @InsuranceCopywr
  • “Inbound marketing is like courtship from a candid suitor: it woos customers with honesty rather than candy-coated prose.” Katherine Kotaw, @KatherineKotaw
  • Inbound Marketing is prospects finding us because we provide the answers to their questions and solutions they need.” Kris, @transposia
  • Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it.” Jay Baer @jaybaer

What Activities and Strategies Define Inbound Marketing?

Identify Your Ideal Customers and Write for Them

Is your idea customer a mom in her 30s or 40s with children, a full-time job, who also enjoys skydiving? Maybe he’s a man, 50-65 who loves to golf, spend time with the grandkids and could use help planning for retirement. Whoever your ideal customer is,

“Inbound Marketing is like a well-crafted spiderweb – engaging visitors rather than chasing after them.” Heather Sloan

get to know him or her so well that you write content they find irresistible.  You can even name your “perfect” customer profiles to make them more real to you. We’ll call these two “Nancy” and “John” :).

Share Your Content

Find out where Nancy and John get their information. Then make sure you are there when they’re looking. Is Nancy a Pinterest fanatic? Make it easy for her to find what she wants there. Does John spend time on a LinkedIn group specific to his industry? Join the group and add to the conversation in a useful (non-promotional) way.

Market to All Stages of the Buying Cycle

Nancy might just be looking for information on what gear experts recommend for skydiving in Pennsylvania today, but next time she comes to your site, she may be looking for a specific outfitter or company to take her on that jump. Make sure you offer content she can use at any stage in her decision-making process. For her, it might be a “sky diver’s checklist” first, then an ebook on choosing the best places to dive, and finally a whitepaper helping her evaluate who the best and safest company is.  Once she chooses you, you can keep in touch to encourage her to come back for another jump!“It’s the Process of understanding what your client needs to know about your product then deliver in a relevant way.” Heidi Garland

“Youtility is marketing so useful, people would pay for it.” Jay BaerLearn More and Personalize More

The first time John visits your site, you might just collect his name and email address and  a basic idea of what interests him. As he opens some email and clicks one link instead of another – redeeming one offer, but not another, you start to learn more about him and what hits home with John. This leads to greater opportunities to generate and share content that will resonate with him – because you are speaking directly to what moves him.

Measure, Refine, Repeat“Inbound Marketing is prospects finding us because we provide the answers to their questions and solutions they need.” Kris

So, your original research showed that John got a lot of his information from LinkedIn, but your reports show that most of your leads are coming in from Twitter? It might be time to concentrate more on that channel instead! Hold a Tweet chat, reach out to more users individually, actively seek out people on Twitter who might be looking for your services and be helpful.

“Inbound marketing empowers marketers to attract visitors, convert leads, close customers and delight promoters.” Mark KilensI’d love to hear what inbound marketing means for you and how it has helped your business grow. Please feel free to share in the comments below, or tweet me at @scalablesocial or @alisammeredith. I’ll add your comments to the post! Want to see what it’s done for our business? Get our inbound marketing case study.


Want to Learn More About Inbound Marketing? Download the new HubSpot partner collaboration ebook, “ABCs of Inbound Marketing.” Somehow we drew the short straw and ended up with “X” :). Don’t you want to know what we came up with?

Summary
Article Name
What is Inbound Marketing?
Description
Looking for a way to acquire and nurture leads for your business? Inbound marketing works – find out what it is and how it works so well.
Author

About the Author Alisa Meredith (311 Posts)

As co-owner and chief inbound marketing consultant at Scalable Social Media, Alisa Meredith spends a lot of time keeping up with online marketing trends for the benefit of our customers. Computers have been a passion of hers since her first T1-99, so inbound and social media marketing is a natural fit.

Comments

  1. Thank you so much, Alisa, for including my definition of “inbound marketing” in your blog! Defining inbound marketing is a great topic, as I’ve always found the term not to be worthy of all the greatness it can actually entail. If I hear “storytelling”, “engaging” or “connecting”, those terms get me excited! But the term “inbound marketing” has always seemed a little bit cold and boring to me, when in reality, inbound marketing is the exact opposite of cold and boring! So kudos for warming up the term with all these great personal definitions and your helpful explanations:)

  2. Great question and great answers!

  3. Alisa Meredith

    Katherine, I’m so grateful that you took the time to add your thoughts. It can be a real challenge to answer in under 140 characters, but I really appreciated what you said. And though I’ve never thought of it, “inbound marketing” does sound a little cold and boring. Everybody really came through to warm it up!

  4. Alisa Meredith

    Heidi, I left out your pinnable quote – I’m so sorry! It’s there now 🙂 Thanks so much for contributing. It’s been so enlightening to hear what people have to say. Really rounds out a dry definition, doesn’t it?

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