According to Wikipedia, inbound marketing is defined as “…a marketing strategy that focuses on getting found by customers.” Instead of outbound marketing that incorporates traditional forms of marketing like newspaper or television advertising where a company is reaching out to the consumer, inbound marketing is all about getting the customer to come to you. The term “inbound marketing” is relatively new jargon.

Inbound marketing centers on three main marketing tactics: content marketing, SEO and social media marketing. In a sense, inbound marketing is really integrated marketing; connecting various marketing methods and channels together to develop a stronger online presence and more powerful brand.

The idea of inbound marketing was developed as a response to the recent changes in consumer behavior. Consumers are no longer passive recipients, willingly ingesting countless marketing messages a day. In fact, many consumers have learned to tune out traditional marketing efforts. The Internet is the great equalizer, where everyone can become a publisher of information. Social networking allows people unprecedented opportunities for expressing their opinions on everything.

Outbound marketing was more about interrupting people in their daily lives, trying to capture their attention. A commercial between TV shows, ads in the newspaper, billboards on the highway—these are all example of outbound marketing. Inbound marketing focuses on incorporating your brand into the daily lives of your target audience, not interrupting it.

One of the great benefits of inbound marketing is that it works to reach a highly targeted audience. It goes after someone who is already interested in your product/services. Outbound marketing involves sending out mass messages to a broad audience. Inbound marketing hones in on your best opportunities.

Use this four stage plan to generate more leads and increase ROI – Attract, Convert, Close and Delight

Attract

The key to attracting customers is producing content relevant for them.  All of your content should be created with your buyer personas in mind, and every marketing channel available should be utilized. SEO and social media marketing tactics are especially effective, each of them generating 15% of total leads in 2013. Good SEO practices also result in 20% more conversions than average, with social media generating 15% more. The most useful social network by far is Facebook, providing leads for 52% of marketers.

Convert

The conversion process starts with gathering some contact information. Information is valuable – consider creating exclusive white papers and ebooks that you will send in return for contact information. Calls-to-action are very effective and should be used whenever appropriate.  They should send visitors who click on them to landing pages which are specifically designed to fulfil the promise of the call-to-action. Landing pages are good places to put forms to collect information.

Close

Closing the deal is the highlight of the marketing process. Leads usually need a bit more encouragement before they will become customers, so it is important to properly manage and understand your leads. Use follow-up emails to send customers more content of the type that you already know they are interested in, as well as inform them of special offers and sales. A system of lead scoring can show you which customers are most likely to convert at a given time, and which aren’t ready to talk to the sales team.

Delight

A conversion isn’t the end of the process. Satisfied customers are likely to share their good experience with friends, and there is always the chance of upselling. Continue to provide customers with engaging content after a sale. Inform them of new features and developments within your company that they might be interested in, and do what you can to help them achieve their own goals.  Do your best to show them that you still care about them and weren’t just after their money.

Inbound marketing is a very effective way to grow your customer base and gain some great brand recognition by becoming a source of high-quality, relevant information. By following the general guideline of attracting, converting, closing and delighting customers, a company can develop a systematic way to increase ROI. Call us today to discuss our Online Agency Plans and start your Inbound Marketing strategy.