Inbound Marketing – What is it and how to work with it?

Get my updates on your email
Li e aceito a Política de Privacidade.
Li e aceito a Política de Privacidade.

Reading time: 12 minutes

Academia de Marketing Digital

After talking about content marketing in the last article, it is now time to talk about inbound marketing, another extremely popular term on the internet along with outbound marketing. In reality, inbound marketing goes hand in hand with content marketing and you will eventually understand that link throughout this article.

Although inbound marketing has been around for several years, it has only became popular in the last decade, especially with the outbreak of the term in the United States to define a strategy of attracting potential buyers to your company’s website. The literal translation of the term means “attraction marketing”, which would basically be a strategy in which you would work the content on your website/blog with the goal of generating traffic and therefore attract potential new customers to your business.

What is more interesting about an inbound marketing strategy is that, unlike an outbound marketing strategy, you do not have to go after the customer. It is the customer that finds you through the content that you publish on the internet. However, inbound marketing
goes hand in hand with content marketing, meaning it is impossible to disassociate one strategy from the other.

What is inbound marketing?

Differently from outbound marketing, using inbound marketing you work the commercial part of your business in a totally indirect way. Imagine you making an ad on television versus you posting multiple articles on your company’s blog. They are different strategies, with equal goals, but very different approaches.

In the same way as in content marketing, inbound marketing allows you to attract your potential customers through the content you create, whether they are posts on blogs, videos, e-books, etc. In addition, considering you are working in a digital environment, inbound marketing allows you to measure all your results, so it is possible to have a clear sense of everything that happens and the amount of potential customers you are attracting and converting, practically in real time.

If you have a business or are a professional simply looking for greater visibility and notoriety for your content and services, you can use inbound marketing for several purposes, including:

  • Attract potential customers in a totally organic way;
  • Increase your brand visibility and awareness through content;
  • Reduce the cost of acquiring customers through organic lead capture;
  • Create quality, timeless content that attracts recurring traffic;
  • Improve the organic positioning of your content and your business.

How does inbound marketing work?

Similar to any content marketing strategy, inbound marketing obviously has a logic behind it, depending on the goal you intend to achieve. As inbound marketing depends on a good SEO of your content, or a strong propagation through content marketing strategies, we are always talking about a long process that depends on several steps with several pretty defined goals.

As I talked about it in the content marketing article, the content-related steps are always these:

  1. Generate traffic and attract potential customers;
  2. Convert that traffic into leads;
  3. Engage and nurture such leads;
  4. Convert those leads into sales;
  5. Analyze the results and impact of your actions.

Let us analyze the different steps to properly understand how the inbound marketing process works and how you should use that strategy in your business.

1. Generate traffic and attract potential customers

Of course there are several ways of working when the goal is to generate traffic, from organic traffic generation options to paid traffic options. One thing is certain: without traffic it is impossible to make an inbound marketing strategy work properly, since without traffic it will be impossible to generate leads and that will clearly cause the whole process to fall apart.

Content blog

A content blog is a great way to generate qualified traffic in the long run. Just as I got your attention to this article, you could be attracting the attention of thousands of people to the content related to your business. Content always generates traffic.

Regularity when publishing the content is also a very important aspect in this type of strategy as this helps to create a more effective relationship with your readers. When you do not post, you do not generate traffic to new search terms and you do not attract your audience to consume new content.

Also, you will need a good SEO. A good search engine optimization will make a big difference in your organic traffic. The most important thing about writing content is to make sure your content is found. It does not make sense for you to publish content regularly if it is not being found nor generating qualified traffic.

Google favors content that helps users clear their doubts. That is why larger contents tend to perform better on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). The more your content can solve the doubts of users searching on Google, the more likely it is to get a good placement on Google searches.

Traffic Purchase

Traffic Purchase at FacebookIf you do not want to wait 6 months or 12 months for a content strategy to generate results and organic traffic, you can always opt to purchase traffic. Sponsored links from Google, for example, are a great way of how you can generate qualified traffic for your business.

There are several other ways to buy traffic, such as direct purchase of traffic on websites and blogs, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, LinkedIn ads, Twitter, Youtube, etc., or buying traffic on content platforms such as Taboola and Outbrain, among other direct traffic purchase solutions.

The most important thing in any of those options is to measure the results and understand what is happening with your paid campaigns. Of course, if you buy traffic but it is not generating results, you are losing money. Buying traffic is an excellent strategy to speed up all the traffic generation processes, since content marketing is something that takes a lot of time and effort.

Generate traffic on social networks

Social networks like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube and even LinkedIn are a great source of traffic to websites and blogs. Organic or paid content, with quality, always generate high amounts of traffic. It is a normal thing for you to post on a Facebook page, but do not forget Facebook and LinkedIn groups, for example, they are fantastic tools for generating qualified traffic for your business. But in any situation, do not be a spammer. Facebook and LinkedIn groups are always full of spammers and it is important that you do not become another, otherwise it will burn your authority in a short time.

Social networks are also important channels of communication and identification of the target audience of your business, regardless of what you are trying to sell. Whether you want to sell an e-book, print book, marketing or carpentry services, when using social networks as a communication channel you can understand your audience’s behavior and tailor your communication strategy to that very audience, which from the point of view of inbound marketing is absolutely fantastic.

2. Convert that traffic into leads

By generating qualified traffic to your website or blog, you will be attracting potential customers to your business and/or product. More important than generating traffic is being able to convert that same traffic into leads, right? There are several conversion strategies you can use to convert your traffic into leads. If you have a website or a blog with a good amount of hits, but you are not able to generate qualified leads for your products or services, you need to put together a strategy in that direction. Here are some ideas you can put into practice to start generating qualified leads with your traffic:

Landing pages conversion

When it comes to lead generation, landing pages are always one of the best solutions. A landing page is a page totally focused on conversion, in which the objective can be the capture of one e-mail address only, or more complex forms with the capture of name, email, telephone, etc. The more information you ask the user, the lower your conversion rate. However, the more information you ask for, the more qualified your leads are, that is, the more potential sales conversion they have.

Landing Pages for Inbound Marketing

On the page of my course called Conversion Hero, for example, I use an entry landing page to convert all traffic into potential leads for the Digital Marketing course I’m selling. That way, a lot of the traffic I send to that page ends up in an e-mail marketing funnel and, if properly worked, can generate sales of the online course I mentioned.

When it comes to landing pages, there are several things to keep in mind in order to successfully convert your traffic into leads, particularly technical and non-technical aspects that make traffic conversion increase or decrease considerably. Take note of some important things that you must always have working properly:

  1. The content should be to the point and extremely explanatory. If the user remains with doubts, he will leave the page;
  2. A good call-to-action is essential to converting that traffic into leads;
  3. The form should only ask for the information you really need to work on and convert the leads into sales;
  4. Simple and responsive design is very important. You will probably get more mobile leads than desktop leads these days;
  5. Calls to action always stay above the fold, meaning the user should be able to fill out the form without having to scroll the page.

Another very important thing is the optimization of a landing page. To make the experience even richer and to generate more conversions, you need to work on A/B tests, that is, create two similar pages, one for 50% of the traffic (page A) and the other one for the other 50% of the traffic (page B), but with slight differences such as changes to texts and conversion buttons. By working on such performance test, you can clearly tell which page leads to greater conversion, and you can share that winning page with 100% of your traffic.

Lead Generation Ads

Another thing you can do is lead generation ads. When it comes to buying traffic, lead generation is always associated with that term. Many professionals work with paid media to generate leads for their business and/or their customers. Generating leads is a fairly simple process, but it requires a lot of flexibility on your part, since what works for business A will probably not work for business B. In that sense, it is extremely important that you can adapt your strategies depending on what you are promoting.

Facebook, for example, allows you to create lead generation ads directly on Facebook itself, which makes it much easier to capture data and help you scale your business faster and attract the potential clients. The same applies to Instagram. You can also make lead generation ads on Instagram and collect important information about those people to then individually work each of those leads and convert them into sales and cash.

Lead Generation Ads on Facebook for Inbound Marketing

When viewing a lead ad on Facebook, the user clicks on the ad and Facebook promptly shows the form with the filled data. That data is collected directly from that user’s Facebook information, so it is real data that you can use to work each of those contacts individually and convert them into customers for your business, product or service.

Custom Offers

Personalized offers are also a really interesting strategy to spark the interest of your audience and convert traffic to qualified leads. Those offers can go through quote requests, product tests, and more. Something extremely common on the internet is demo versions of software, in which you can test all the features of a software for 15 or 30 days. In reality, those are custom offers that generate qualified leads and then convert those users into paid customers of the software in question, for example.

Then, we can also talk about digital baits, that is, basic products focused at educating, creating authority, or simply solving simple problems of the user, which actually allow authors to generate a database of leads to convert into clients, such as in case of ebooks, free video lessons, internet webinars, basic tools, etc. All those personalized offers always have the same purpose: convert traffic into leads.

3. Engage and nurture those leads

An Inbound Marketing strategy also assumes that you must work each of your leads individually. If you generated traffic and converted that traffic into qualified leads, it is time for you to nurture each of those leads. When someone subscribes to your newsletter, subscribe to a tool of yours or download an e-book that you are offering, in fact, that person is not yet prepared to buy from you. If we understand the “consumer journey”, we will understand that that person is still trying to understand who you are and what content they can expect from you. Take a look:

Customer Journey at Inbound Marketing

Google itself defines that the “consumer journey” begins with capturing knowledge, then going through the consideration of the subject and the business, evaluating what you are trying to sell, and then ending with the purchase. Those four steps, that in fact may even be more, are essential to understand. If you just generate a qualified lead and after 5 minutes you are trying to sell something to that person, you are doing it wrong! That person will not buy!

To improve the way you are working with your leads, you need to nurture and engage with those contacts. That will improve the consideration they have towards you and at the time of evaluation, they will be better prepared to buy any product from you.

Relationship with E-mail Marketing

When we talk about getting leads, we often talk about e-mails. Almost all lead-capture campaigns go through e-mail requests. Those e-mails should be directed to an E-mail Marketing platform (I highly recommend MailChimp) and worked with relevant content. If a person has subscribed to your newsletter because you talk about weight loss tips, for example, it is important that you create a set of several e-mails with different content on that topic. That way, you will be nurturing that person with interesting and relevant content for them.

The same applies to people who downloaded your e-book with 10 tips to make detox juices at home. You need to deliver differentiated content to those people and contact them by e-mail, answering their questions, listening to their stories, and of course, working on each of those potential customers individually. That way, you will be preparing each of those contacts for the process of considering and evaluating your product that will happen up front when you feel you are in the right moment to indicate your product or service to them.

Please keep in mind that there are no predefined timings for that call to action or sales attempt. In an e-mail marketing funnel there are those who try to sell after 5 content emails, there are those who try to sell after 10 content e-mails, etc. Each e-mail funnel is unique and the public is always different. You need to understand your audience and especially understand at what time of the journey they are, so then try to convert those leads into sales.

Relationship with content

Another form of relationship is through content. When you work with e-mail marketing, you cannot deliver overly large content as it becomes tiring to read, especially on a mobile device. This is where content marketing comes in. Whenever you create new content for your website or blog, you will be nurturing and engaging with your audience. You can even link your content to your e-mail marketing strategies and send an e-mail to your readers whenever you write a new article on your blog.

That way, you will be using content as a way to nurture and connect with your leads. That will increase your notoriety in your niche market and will work as a way to nurture those leads with relevant content and that will allow you to clarify several doubts. Those leads will be much more prepared to buy from you than any other person you attract today as a potential client. Publishing content has tremendous authority.

4. Convert those leads into sales

In an inbound marketing strategy, right after the nurturing of leads comes the conversion of leads into sales. It does not matter how many leads you have, how many you have captured, or how much they cost, if in fact you cannot convert those leads into sales. Ultimately, the goal is always to sell something, whether it is a product or a service. However, as I said earlier, you need to understand the consumer journey and do not rush and try to sell to people who are not ready to buy yet.

Converting leads into sales becomes especially more complex the more complex and expensive the product or service you sell. The very complexity of the product makes it simpler or more complicated to convert leads into sales.

Convert each lead individually

When you come to this point, you understand the importance of nurturing and engaging with your leads. It is at this stage of the inbound marketing strategy that you understand that each lead is a lead, and especially that each of those leads will be at a different time from your sales funnel. Working and converting each individual lead is critical to making the results the best they can. Just as large companies do with their complex CRM software, you need to do it manually or automated with each of your leads.

For those who work with software, for example, demonstration via video conference on Skype is a great way to convert potential leads into sales. The same applies to those who work with telemarketing. Whenever a lead is prepared to buy, it is important for your sales team to take action, call the person, and close the deal. However, for each case, connecting to and nurturing such leads is essential so the conversion rate in sales increases.

5. Analyze the results and impact of your actions

In digital marketing, measuring results is extremely important and essential. All actions you take should be measured to the point of exhaustion. Only this way you will be absolutely sure that your inbound marketing and content marketing strategies are actually producing effect and results according to your expectations.

The most common way to measure results in an inbound marketing strategy is through web analytics, that is, analytic data from your website, your blog or landing page. The best tool for this purpose is, with no doubt, Google Analytics because, besides being free, allows an incredible level of customization, giving you the possibility to measure all the results, whether it is filling a newsletter box, a form, a conversion button, or any other metric.

The more you measure the better. This will give you greater insight into the data and especially the effectiveness of your content strategies. If results are lower than expected, you can easily activate your team and develop new processes for enabling leads, capturing traffic, or converting into sales.

The future of inbound marketing

Inbound marketing remains an excellent strategy for generating traffic, leads and sales for any business. While technology tends to evolve at a very fast pace, content and inbound marketing strategies will continue to work and will be a huge differential for all businesses that rely heavily on strategy. There are thousands of professionals, marketers and companies that simply do not use inbound marketing in their business, which means that those who use it are one step ahead of their competitors.

The internet will always live out of content and the content will always be a great differential and a tremendous way to create authority and notoriety. Take the opportunity to put your knowledge into practice and to your advantage!

Good businesses!

Academia de Marketing Digital

Academia de Marketing Digital
Aulas práticas de Marketing Digital & Vendas
por apenas 25€ ou R$140 por mês.
Also read this article:

How to create a successful blog

How to create a successful blog – The complete guide