By now, you've likely heard of inbound marketing.
You might be aware that marketing and sales software developer HubSpot coined the phrase more than 10 years ago, and perhaps you even have a decent understanding of its definition.
But knowing exactly what services inbound marketing actually includes can be confusing.
Content marketing, email marketing, SEO—it all just sounds like subcategories of digital marketing, right?
Inbound marketing, even more so than being tactical, is strategic. It's an over-arching philosophy and approach to digital marketing practices, so rather than simply shooting out emails or writing blogs, everything needs to be based on a single notion: The buyer always comes first.
Let's take a look at common digital marketing practices, and how inbound marketing approaches these.
This is when you create and distribute content, both to your website and the internet in general. Content can mean anything from blog posts to white papers to videos or infographics. But not all content is made the same—and the foundation of it all should be based in a comprehensive strategy that focuses on helping the buyer, before anything else.
This means you're doing market research, keyword research (Guess what? Keywords aren't dead!) and interviewing your customers and salespeople, to understand your clients' pain points and most-asked questions.
Your content should follow a set schedule and be based on intelligent keyword research, with a foundation on what your potential customers are actually searching for, in their own words—and giving them the best possible answers to these queries.
Even more than considering best send times or subject lines, inbound marketing emphasizes segmenting your email lists properly. This means that not every single person in your database gets the same (or even every) email. Rather, emails should be highly targeted to just the right people, always considering the intended recipient(s).
Adding personalization (and we don't just mean 'Hi, First Name') can further help when utilizing inbound best practices. This means segmenting contacts into appropriate workflows, and continually adding value by offering useful pieces of content.
Search Engine Optimization
The art of SEO can also exhibit inbound flair through the incorporation of user intent into keyword research. Don't simply look for keywords you'd like to rank for, but try to understand exactly what the user who's typing that keyword into a search console is actually looking for, and produce content that can help them.
Anyone can build a website, but designing an inbound- and growth-driven site is a whole different beast. Those constructed around inbound best practices always take the user's experience into consideration first, ensuring the site is easy to navigate, has plenty of useful content for visitors, and helps pull them through The Buyer's Journey.
An inbound website should barely speak about itself, but rather, concentrate its messaging on the visitor, speaking directly to them, their pain points, and how the site's products or services can help.
Inbound marketing goes far beyond simple tactics to incorporate a buyer-focused philosophy. By constantly striving to be helpful and genuine in marketing efforts, you'll attract customers who not only love your product, but who'll be much more likely to recommend you to their friends, as well.
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