How Does Inbound Marketing Work: An Introduction

How Does Inbound Marketing Work: Introduction

Ah, inbound marketing, the term is so ubiquitously used, you may feel like you already know all about it. But if you strip away the oft-repeated phrases like “content is king” or “delighting customers,” what do you have left? Let’s take a closer look at exactly how does inbound marketing work.

A Definition

According to the inbound grand-daddy, HubSpot, inbound marketing is a “way to turn strangers into customers and promoters of your business.” In plain terms, instead of going to them, you are now trying to get your potential customers to come to you. How do you do that? By attracting them to any and all of your platforms (think social media, blog, website) and then being interesting enough for them to stay and happily invite others.

Know Your Why

Before you really get into the “nitty gritty,” your very first step into the inbound marketing world is getting comfortable with your brand. Okay, you already know what you do and how you do it, but do you know why? The “why” is really the most important question and if you can answer it clearly, you are off to a great start; you should know WHY your product is unique, you should know WHY potential customers should choose you over the other guys, and you should know WHY you love what you’re selling–if you love it, so will your customers!

Know Their Why

Once you’ve got your motivation all figured out, move on to your customers’. You see, everyone has a WHY and your best audience, your most fertile potential client pool, is that of the people whose WHYs match up with yours. What problems do they have that you are directly addressing?

In inbound marketing, this problem and solution schematic lines up pretty closely with the idea of a “buyer’s journey.” Here’s how it works: your potential client wants to find the best product for their needs. They are on a journey that has three major stages; at the first stage, they may just be realizing what their problem is, with no clear idea of what the solution might be. Here’s where they will do quick, basic searches, click on some top-returning links and generally ask around. Once they have an idea of what they are looking for they move on to a more in-depth research phase–here they may read reviews and do comparisons. Finally, they will have narrowed down their search to one or two top options and may be looking for that deciding factor to make the decision.

You get their WHY, and you have a clear WHY of your own to communicate, so now you can produce content that can address these potential clients at every step of their journey in the most relevant way.

What’s All This “Content” About?

Content is the foundation of inbound marketing. Makes sense, right? If you want people to hear what you have to say, you first have to say something. Even with minimal marketing background, if you have spoken with your customers, you have content to share; you know their concerns, you have heard their feedback and you understand what kinds of tools may be helpful to them. This is that alignment of the WHYs (yours and theirs).

Once you have that all-important alignment, the next big step is producing relevant content to move your clients smoothly along their journey, with your product hopefully being their best final choice.

Thing strategically and create content that fits into each step of the buyer journey. For example, a customer in the initial stages will need easily digestible, introductory content such as short blog posts or infographics–they are just trying to get the lay of the land, so to speak, so introduce and curate without being too “salesy” and self-promotional. When doing more research, customers may want e-books or white papers to give them a better sense of what you are offering and provide them with tangible facts and figures. Finally, at the end of the journey more hands-on content like webinars and free demos will be exactly what they are looking for to finalize a decision.

Whether you are putting out blogs, email newsletters, e-books or webinars, the big rules of good inbound content remain the same. Here are some must-haves:

  • Useful
  • Simple to Understand
  • Visually Pleasing
  • Consistent

Put it All Together

Good inbound marketing works because it is not intrusive or aggressive; unlike marketing of old, it does not seek to withhold or compete, but instead to inform and find the best possible solution for every problem. To put it in perspective, your audience is not “everybody,” it is a specific group of people who will benefit from what you are offering. Once you understand yourself (your WHY), it will be easier to see who this specific group may be (their WHY) and then you can create content that makes good sense, helps solve problems, and ultimately brings your customers to you. The idea is simple, trust, support and genuine interest will build better relationships than greed.

Need help understanding your Why? Contact us for more tips in inbound marketing.