Inbound marketing is the new lifeline that is keeping online marketing alive. It encompasses all the strategies and techniques that involve attracting new customers and clients to your Website instead of vying for their attention with traditional marketing efforts. It is all about sharing and caring. This means inbound marketing is dependent on creating fresh content that your target customers will relate to.

This has been the crown jewel of the online marketing world since 2006, and it is much more cost effective than outbound methods. The key to effective inbound marketing is to create content that is in line with your target audience’s interests. This will automatically attract traffic and more users who can be then converted to loyal customers. Inbound marketing not only targets new markets, the technique is also extremely effective in bringing back old customers.

What is the most effective theme of inbound marketing?

The most basic and yet effective theme for inbound marketing is the creation of targeted content that peaks your prospective clients’ interest. It should answer their questions and lead them toward a solution for their needs. The most vital step that follows the content creation step is the social sharing process. This involves sharing the targeted content on social media platforms far and wide.

What is the lifecycle of inbound marketing?

While creating the content for inbound marketing, you need to personalize the content so that it appeals to a majority of your potential customers and at the same time it should fulfill their individual enquiries. Once the strangers become visitors and then customers, they automatically become your potential promoters. There are multiple specific marketing actions and tools that convert practical strangers to promoters, which we shall come back to later.

Integration of multi-channel marketing

Marketing should never have too narrow a prospect or target. It should rather have multiple platforms that can easily reach out to the potential customers on the other side. As a matter of fact, it should be a two-way process where customers can also reach out to you/your customer service agents in their time of need. This definitely calls for an integration method that will serve to combine content creation, publishing and analysis under one roof.

The keys to successful content marketing

There are three most important factors that serve to make content marketing successful, and they are:
i. Place
ii. Time
iii. Quality of content

Place – Content does not get the value it deserves if it cannot be found at the right place. Now, the right place is quite a relative term for most marketers, but specifically for you, it should be where your customer spends the most amount of his or her time. The correct content distribution is a must for adding value to your content.

Time – As you must know already, to harness the power of social media, you should first figure out which platform is most active during what time of the day. For example, Twitter is most active during Thursday afternoons, whereas Instagram is most active on weekends. The timing differs according to the location of your target audience as well. Inbound marketing is meant to empower your buyers when they are ready to make a purchase. Promoting new products at the beginning of the month is a far better idea that introducing a new collection in the last week. The right timing makes inbound marketing more relevant and helpful for most potential buyers.

Quality of content – Content is the most important of all three factors that govern inbound marketing. It is the fuel that drives the entire methodology. Creating the right content is the very first step of inbound marketing that will help you reach out to the right people at the right time.

What are the founding actions of inbound marketing?

There are four founding actions of inbound marketing that drives the entire purpose of it.
i. Attraction
ii. Conversion
iii. Closing
iv. Customer service (satisfaction)

Attraction – This is the key step that drives the rest of the process. This is when the target crowd gets introduced to the relevant content. Getting the right crowd to take notice of your Website requires the right content. The right crowd refers to the potential buyers with the buying power to give you ROI.

Here’s a collection of the most important methods and tools you can use to make sure you attract the right crowd:

  • Blogging – This may not be new, but it is effective in attracting the right people at the right time. Blogging is the first step of inbound marketing; therefore, your Website must feature content that most of your prospective buyers can relate to.
  • SEO – Many of your target buyers will end up at your doorstep by simply searching for your products online. They will not be directed toward your site after coming across a social media post or an online ad. This is where your Website SEO and blog keywords play key roles. This cannot be perfected overnight. You will need the help of analytical tools, keyword suggestion tools and optimization strategies that will help you reach that level of perfection.

Conversion – After your prospective customers are inside your store, it is completely your responsibility to get them interested in the products you are offering. The competition is stiff, and 10 other stores may be selling what you are trying to sell right now. So, you need to make the effort to stand out in the crowd. Now, you can do that with respect to store layouts or adding comparator tools, or even by giving discounts to your first-time buyers. But at the end of the day, you should be able to get the customers on your contact list.

Here are a few ways to ensure that you get valuable contact information from your Website visitors:

  • Contact forms – Use interactive contact forms with auto-fill options so your visitors don’t get bored entering the same information over and over.
  • Landing pages – This is a wonderful idea for the native app builders and mobile Website builders. The landing page is where your prospective buyer can input his or her contact information that your sales team can immediately start working.
  • Contacts – All your customer and subscriber contacts should be saved in a centralized database. This can be stored in a hard disk or cloud services. The main aim of creating a central system is to be able to gain access to it from any physical location with the right authorization information. This database should store all the information harnessed from social media, email, landing pages and contact forms.
  • Contact database management – These contact databases are massive for most companies and form a part of their Big Data. Management of these databases is no easy task and most requires platforms like Oracle, SAP and MySQL, which are some of the most widely used management systems. A company always needs a DBA consultant or a resident DBA for processing the Website data real-time. All the data gathered from social interactions and contact forms are extremely valuable for outbound marketing, and hence should be archived in an organized manner.

Closing – Closing is the third step that you will only reaching if you have completed the first two steps with utmost perfection. Once you transform your visitors to customers, you have attained that closure, and this can be made a little easier with certain marketing tools:

  • Closed-loop reporting – This is necessary to figure out which marketing strategy is bringing out the most number of leads. The integration of a customer relationship management (CRM) tool with your Website analytics tool helps you understand the efficiency of your sales team.
  • Email – Try sending out a few directed emails to your previous customers and regular window-shoppers. These emails should contain offers and discounts on products they are usually interested in. You can leverage the necessary information from your database that should be able to store all the tracking data revolving around customer behavior on your Website.
  • Automation in marketing – This is the process involving email marketing and following of leads. For example – if one of your visitors showed particular interest in a product or downloaded white paper on certain topics from your Website in recent past, you may want to follow it up by sending him or her emails on related topics. You can even try re-Tweets and Facebook messages as effective alternatives of emails.

Customer service (satisfaction) – Just because you have closed on deal does not mean you can sit back and relax. This just denotes the beginning of another journey that involves an extensive process of extracting customer feedback and reviews. Active surveys and smart texts have become extremely popular in archiving reviews and testimonials for online sales and services.

The days of exclusive outbound marketing are long gone. Inbound marketing has become the mantra that paves the way for targeted outbound marketing in the form of personalized mails, texts and push messages. Inbound marketing has the advantage of personalization that outbound marketing lacked; this gives the former a certain edge that is both new and effective.

Sujain Thomas is a vivid blogger who loves the evolving aspects of online marketing. She has been studying the intricate relationship of Big Data, database management and marketing. An ex-DBA consultant, she loves to spend his time learning and blogging about the new aspects of Big Data and online marketing strategies.