Inbound marketing is the most important marketing development to come along in a very long time, and its impact has truly shaken the foundations of what marketers – and the companies they serve – once thought was possible from a campaign.

But what is inbound, and what makes it so important?

What is inbound marketing?

Since the mid-2000s, inbound marketing has become the favoured marketing method for online businesses of all sizes.

But in order to better understand inbound, it’s important to also know what we mean when we discuss ‘inbound’ marketing versus its forebear, ‘outbound’ marketing.

Where outbound marketing methods involved doing lots of outward facing activities, many of which were difficult to measure – buying adverts, hoping to generate leads and generally waiting for custom to approach the company – the inbound method is quite distinctly different.

Inbound marketing focuses less on the hard sell and more on drawing in prospects by prompting them to engage, meaningfully, with your brand.

This is achieved by creating content which appeals to potential customers, leading them to want to stick around and see what you have to offer as a company.

This content doesn’t just have to be parked on your own domain – there are many inbound benefits to hosting content on other sites.

Advertorials, editorial content, affiliate offers – all of these and more are proven ways of driving qualified traffic.

Stages of an inbound methodology

There are four stages to the inbound method:

  • Attract
  • Convert
  • Close
  • Delight

The attract stage focuses not only on drawing more traffic into your website, but ensuring you attract the right sort of traffic.

This avoids wasted time and resources – for both your company and the customer.

This is achieved through a close understanding of your ideal customer or buyer persona, understanding exactly how your product or service will help improve matters for them.

Conversion seeks to turn these website visitors into potential ‘leads’ by prompting them to leave their contact details in return for content of value.

Closing requires marketers to convert leads into customers, best accomplished by keeping in touch with the lead (without getting on their nerves) and crucially, knowing how to store the contact information you have gathered.

After closing a sale, companies must still be willing to delight their customers by continuing to engage with them in meaningful ways and offering content which is of legitimate value.

Why inbound matters

Inbound is all about content and distribution – placed in the right location at the right time.

With the growth of digital marketing channels, increasingly sophisticated customers expect more from their companies – and marketers have had to become more inventive to meet the rising demand and challenges of online marketing.

Inbound marketing offers the ideal solution to both problems.