Inbound marketing is a term that encompasses a lot of specific marketing tactics, but on its own, it describes a philosophy of marketing that’s about providing value to your prospects, even before they become customers.
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The inbound marketing methodology consists of four stages: attract, convert, close, and delight. Instead of traditional marketing methods, which often involve reaching out to potential customers directly, inbound marketing works to draw potential customers to you by providing them with the answers and solutions they’re searching for at every stage of their buyer’s journey. It works something like this:
By creating content that is valuable to your potential customers (see also: buyer personas) you place your company or product naturally into their buyer’s journey. If your customers are wondering how to solve a problem, you are there for a possible solution. When they’re considering different solutions to that problem, you help them to determine which option is the best for them. When they’re ready to make a decision, you show them the value of the options they are considering.
In addition to content readily available on the internet (blog and social posts), inbound marketing also requires creating more in-depth gated content offers that can be downloaded by your potential customers. That’s the “convert” part of the inbound methodology. Once they have converted on a content offer, it’s your job as an inbound marketer to nurture that lead with more valuable information as they move down the funnel toward becoming a customer (the “close” stage).
Note: We said “valuable information,” not a sales pitch.
At its core, the inbound methodology is about providing your potential customers with the information they need to make a decision about your company or service—even if they haven’t heard of it yet—without invading their usual decision process with an unwelcome sales pitch. By the time inbound prospects are handed off to your sales team, they’ve already learned a lot about your company or brand through the content you’ve created, and are therefore more ready to become an actual customer.
Then, you delight them. You make them feel valued and welcomed as a customer so that they, in turn, become your best evangelists. (If you’re wondering about prospects, lead-scoring, or the best way to set up a lead generation form, bookmark our inbound marketing dictionary and come back whenever you have a question.)
Why the inbound methodology is important to marketers
To answer this question, let’s take a look at some numbers, shall we?
- A whopping 61 percent of internet users worldwide research products online
- Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI
- Marketing with a focus on content generates 3x as many leads as traditional outbound marketing but costs 62 percent less
Why is the inbound methodology important for marketers? When done right, it works better and costs less than any other method. End of story (except not because there’s so much more we could tell you about it).
If you skimmed this post…
Inbound marketing is a method of marketing that focuses on creating content to naturally bring potential customers to your company, product, or service. Inbound marketing helps you bring qualified leads to your sales team and increase your ROI.
Want to learn more awesome inbound marketing terms? Check out our Inbound Marketing Definitions page.