Inbound Marketing in 2023: The Definitive Guide
Inbound marketing was born because another way of doing online marketing is possible. In the middle of 2020 and at a time when the consumer has more POWER than ever, it is necessary to apply honest marketing and not do exactly the opposite, to the surprise of many.
According to a HubSpot study, 94% of consumers interrupt their communication with a brand due to irrelevant messages and promotions. There you have it.
It is something that we can avoid by applying a good Inbound marketing strategy, so here is the most complete guide on the Internet to learn step-by-step how to do it.
What is Inbound Marketing?
How do we manage to generate attention to our content in this era of the content-saturated market?
There is no need to saturate the user with irrelevant pop-ups, banners, and messages that do not respond to their main need at that moment.
Everything is much easier by applying the ideas behind the concept of inbound marketing, which was coined in 2006 by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, founders of HubSpot (although Seth Godin already talked about permission marketing in 1999).
The best definition of inbound marketing that I can give you is the following:
- A methodology because it is always applied, more or less, in the same way. It always has the same phases and different strategies and similar actions can be applied regardless of the sector of your company or your commercial objective.
- A philosophy because we adapt to the changes in the mentality of the modern online consumer, very informed and saturated with content from the moment they get up until they go to sleep.
- A toolbox because it uses different disciplines such as SEO or content marketing, executed in a certain way, to adapt it to the inbound philosophy.
Differences Between Inbound and Outbound Marketing
I have decided to write the differences between inbound marketing and outbound marketing in a table format, so we have the following:
|INBOUND MARKETING||OUTBOUND MARKETING|
|Relevant content for the user to come to you (referrals, social media, search engines)||Direct mail, cold calls, advertisements (interruption marketing)|
|Gain user interest||Buy user interest|
|Add VALUE||Does not add much VALUE|
|Entertains and educates||Sell|
|Attract through content||Attract through promotions|
|It is interactive and bidirectional: there is a response from the consumer||It is passive and unidirectional (the company sends a message, but does not expect a return message from the consumer)|
With this comparison, you will probably already know what the benefits of inbound marketing are compared to outbound marketing, so we continue.
Where to Use Inbound Methodology?
Inbound marketing is a strategy adapted to the new market. Do you remember when promotions by mail or television were the best advertising a company could have?
“Club” marketing we could call it because, in the end, it is still a form of bombardment to attract their attention and encourage purchase through neuromarketing techniques.
There is no doubt that marketing must evolve along with society and, in the case of inbound marketing, we are talking about a non-invasive strategy from which you can educate and entertain your potential customers so that they make the purchase decision when they are prepared.
As it is not invasive, you can use it around all your content: blog posts, email marketing, social networks, or videos.
Which Companies Should Use Inbound Marketing?
In companies where the purchase cycle is long and thoughtful, such as the health or technology sector, it can be the winning strategy.
But be careful, the strategy of generating valuable and useful content can be used for any sector with an online presence: games, SEO, children’s products, tools, and almost everything you can think of.
How Does the Inbound Methodology Work?
“What is good for the customer is good for the business” is the basic premise of inbound marketing.
It is the phrase that best sums up the inbound philosophy, so engrave it on fire. To apply it you will need to create lasting relationships with your potential clients, and even with those who are not.
Basically, with this philosophy, what we will do is create and distribute relevant and valuable content for those potential clients who want it. Thus, we will attract them to our website to convert them into loyal customers or followers.
Once on our page, we will work on different content and routes that will be aligned with our user’s buyer journey, both within the page and via email marketing or marketing automation.
In other words: we will offer content suitable for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Help the User and Look for Long Term Relationship
In short, your main objective should be to add value to the user so that, in the long term, your brand or your name is in the minds of potential customers and they remember you when buying.
For example: if an entrepreneur wants to start applying inbound marketing in their online strategy and reads this guide, they will have notions to do so. But if his plan falters, do you know who he’s going to remember if he decides to hire an inbound marketing agency to do it professionally?
Well, broadly speaking, this is how you should think if you want to start doing honest marketing with the user in mind.
“The sale is a consequence of your actions and not the goal”.
Another phrase to frame. Record it!
The Circular Conversion Funnel
In traditional marketing, we think of creating a standard sales funnel. The marketing and sales team works to bring potential buyers to the beginning of the funnel and go down the funnel until they become customers.
At that endpoint is where we try to build loyalty through a support or service department:
Well, it is a model that can work, of course, it does; but there are alternatives more adapted to the new consumer, especially if we talk about an inbound strategy.
That’s why Hubspot already talked about the flywheel or circular funnel. I am not in favor of applying one funnel or another interchangeably and in the same way for any business.
I am tired of repeating that the funnel must be adapted to each case and that what works well for one does not necessarily have to work for you. There is no omnipotent funnel that works for any company and that leads you to absolute sales success.
In fact, of all those people who will enter the first phase of the traditional funnel, only a small percentage will convert. Don’t you think that traditional marketing is no longer adapted to the new situation we are experiencing today?
That’s why I like inbound marketing so much because here we talk about a circular or flywheel conversion funnel:
In inbound, the customer is at the center of the axis and all the teams work around it: marketing, sales, and service, and they do so through four fundamental phases:
- Attraction: offer you the content you want, whether it is via ads, blogs, social networks, or content. You will need to review the user’s frequently asked questions.
- Connection or conversion: put at your disposal the best offer. This can be done via email marketing, automation, forms, bots, flows, videos, and how-to guides. Email marketing helps increase sales a lot.
- Closing: it is the stage where you transform potential clients into clients and here automation via bots and live chats, social networks, and email marketing is essential.
- Delight or impress: turn your experience into a unique experience. You can use “smart content” based on things we know about the user (he has already done some action, like subscribing to download an ebook), email marketing, and automation (if he has already done “x” actions, we can give him something), feedback, evaluations, notifications, etc.
We look at these phases in detail below.
4 Phases Of Inbound Marketing
Attention here because this should be clear.
The phases of inbound marketing are always applied in any strategy of this type, so the actions that will be carried out in each phase must be well defined, as well as who or what department will carry them out.
That said, as I have already advanced in the previous point, there are four phases of the inbound methodology:
It is the first step in any inbound methodology. It is the beginning of the strategy because it will be useless to have the best content to help your user if you are not able to attract them to your website to read them.
With your Buyer Persona created, everything will be easier. Also, Power words can be used in your content as well to make it more catchy and increase sales.
Remember that you must offer the right content at the right time and for this, you can use disciplines such as SEO and attract them from Google and other search engines; or social media marketing.
In this first phase, you will have to write high-quality articles on your blog, but you can also create videos, and posts on social networks and even promote content in ads.
Offering valuable content and enticing users to read it is the first step, but you must not stop there or your effort to provide help will have been for nothing.
We are not NGOs either, right?
Here the thing is about generating business, although it is in the long term. Therefore, you need to capture the emails and data of all those people who have been interested in your content because they are your potential customers.
Many people do this wrong and do not start collecting leads from the beginning. And it’s a mistake, of course.
I recommend you place contact forms and request, at a minimum: a name and email, although you can also place 2-3 options for them to select if your subject area requires it. This way you will classify your leads in more detail for your subsequent marketing automation and email marketing strategy with a email marketing software.
For the conversion phase, a landing page with a built-in contact form and something of value in exchange for its data is usually used: an ebook, a registration for a free webinar, a seminar, a template, or whatever you want to offer.
Whatever you give away must be of quality, eye. We do not want to ruin the entire strategy by sending a gift without value or utility now. And, of course, it must be aligned with the entire strategy. It should make sense for the next phase.
Here comes the good stuff.
The closing phase is used to convert potential customers into customers. To do this, it is normal to use marketing automation tools.
You can create an email chain and align your goals with an email marketing strategy. Or you can even use live chats or bots, a very common strategy nowadays.
The inbound methodology does not work if you do not create the best content for your user. A content that you remember as exceptional.
That is the key.
And you must maintain this philosophy even if you have already converted that potential client into a client. You must continue to take care of them with new dynamic content, attracting their attention through social networks and using activation marketing.
At this stage, the objective is to continue helping by offering valuable resources, as well as converting your clients into brand ambassadors or promoters of your business with total loyalty.
How to Make an Inbound Marketing Strategy (Step by Step)
Now that we know what inbound marketing is, what is the philosophy and the pillars on which it is based and how it works, it is necessary to review the different elements with which you will work:
1. Buyer Persona and Empathy Map
Creating a semi-fictional buyer such as the Buyer Persona will help you better plan your content and address their main concerns or pain points.
To create it, remember that it is important to consider demographics, behavior patterns, or motivations.
Analyzing in detail the type of user we are addressing and understanding their feelings will help us to empathize with our content and to provide them with the information that resolves their doubts or needs.
And for this, we created the famous empathy map.
It is a graphic representation of your Buyer Persona in which we collect information to respond to six areas or questions:
- What do you think or feel (what do you think, what worries you)
- What do you see (environment, market…)
- What do you hear (from friends, family…)
- What he says or does (attitude in public)
- Pain points
- Wants, needs
We will write several answers to these questions and always from the user’s point of view: How would he/she say it?
With the empathy map, you will have the key to creating the best content in each phase of the process.
Remember that creating the Buyer Persona and the empathy map is of vital importance to structure the entire inbound strategy. It is the first step of the process.
2. Content Marketing
Create valuable content that makes you gain authority in your sector. Prove that you are the fucking master, dammit!
That you know what you’re talking about. Write and share to help because it is the best way to attract them to your website.
And don’t forget to answer the question: “What’s in it for me?” and “Why me?” in each content.
Always be honest and transparent because it is essential to create a community of loyal users who trust you.
Keep in mind that trust and credibility are basic pillars in inbound marketing, which is why it is necessary to work on them to, in the long term, become a reference for users.
Types of Content to Include in Your Strategy:
Do not think only of the blog of your website. There is life beyond. You can work on any of these types of inbound marketing content:
- Blog posts.
- Success stories or testimonials from buyers in which the “before” and “after” of using your product or service are clear.
- Guides, ebooks, checklists.
- Landing pages.
- Email marketing
- Campaigns in social networks. It is the best way to spread content, both at the level of free organic distribution, as well as content promoted in ads.
Aligning your content with the stage the buyer is in is very important. So much so that it is essential to know the different stages of the Buyer’s journey or consumer journey: awareness, consideration, and decision.
I see marketing so poorly done that it does not comply with this that it is worth explaining.
If your consumer is not even aware of your veiled need or desire, what are you doing offering them a discount coupon?
Has no sense.
- In the awareness stage, we must help the user to define their problem by providing information.
- In the consideration stage, we must analyze different approaches to solve the problem.
- In the decision process, we must help you choose the best solution to satisfy your need, which, of course, will be our product or service.
In conclusion, adapt your content to the stage your potential buyer is in, taking into account the inbound phase you are working on.
Continuously improving your content, using the right keywords and longtails to help you attract qualified customers and increase website traffic from Google and other search engines, is critical to growing your brand and business.
When you appear higher for certain searches, more visibility for your content and more potential customers for the future.
Remember that one of the pillars of inbound marketing is to provide answers to the potential buyer’s questions through the content published on your website.
If you don’t think about keywords and do good keyword research by classifying search intentions, you will not receive traffic. SEO is much essential in inbound marketing.
4. User Experience of 10
Browsing your page or website in general and your content, in particular, must be easy and intuitive. Make it as easy as possible for them and eliminate friction to avoid complicated purchase processes.
Everything should be simple and as interactive as possible so that the user feels that he is part of the process and that he is the one making the decision, not that you are convincing him to do so. Do you understand?
5. Call To Action (CTA)
They are a key element of any online marketing strategy, but even more so if we talk about inbound methodology.
Each of your content must have at least one call to action. It’s the only way for your reader to jump to the next step. Forget the typical “read more” or “contact us” button. That is of no use to us here.
Tailor your CTA to the stage of your buyer’s journey. Think about your main need at that moment and create a UX writing that really helps you take action.
Pay attention to what I tell you and forget about the colors or the shapes of the buttons. You’ll have time to experiment with this later.
6. Social Media
A good social media strategy is key for the inbound strategy to succeed. Since you know your potential buyer perfectly, it will not be difficult for you to collect messages for social networks that serve to encourage the click on the blog posts that you share on each social network.
Using tools to automate your posts on social networks and hiring an expert in Social Media are fundamental requirements to improve engagement.
But do not dedicate yourself only to sharing your content. Create a winning strategy focused on the profile of your ideal client and start conversations, participate and listen.
It is the best way to know how they speak, and what worries them, and, above all: it is the best way to generate trust and create a brand.
In any customer-oriented strategy, it is necessary to use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management); and in inbound marketing, it was not going to be less.
Taking customer relationship management to another level involves using software in which you can manage three basic areas:
- Commercial management.
- After-sales service or customer service.
Thanks to the CRM you will be able to manage customer acquisition and loyalty campaigns, know their needs and anticipate them, control the set of actions carried out and manage commercial actions in a precise and agile way.
8. KPIs and Analytics
Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and Data Studio should be your inseparable friends. They are tools that will help you better understand the type of visitor that reaches your content and also optimize your conversion rates.
Measure the activity on your website, the clicks on the CTA buttons, and the forms, and keep everything under control to optimize it. Keep in mind:
- Website visitors.
- Bounce rate and dwell time.
- Clicks, internal linking, and website CTAs.
- Clicks on links in emails.
- Conversion rate from unknown to a potential customer.
- Conversion rate from potential client to client.
- Engagement in social networks.
Examples of Inbound Marketing: Success Stories
I can think of a thousand examples of companies that are using an inbound strategy and that have dedicated themselves to creating the best content in their sector to attract potential customers. It is, for example, a very common tactic in the training sector.
If you look closely, companies like EAE Business School and other academies specializing in postgraduate or master’s degrees capture leads through their content, whether they are blog posts or webinars.
They are contents that help the future student to decide and at the same time add a form to expand information and collect data from the interested party.
I also tell you, and that is between you and me, that they could do infinitely better. But well, what we do.
There are companies from all areas that already use this methodology to reach the final consumer: Netflix, IKEA, Iberia, GoPro, Starbucks, Spotify, Bayer, Microsoft, Nestlé, Adidas, Apple, Maybelline, and many more.
Results: Is Inbound Marketing Effective?
When I started blogging 3-4 years ago I realized that I needed detailed content planning for my blog would be in chaos.
I researched on Google about the different tools that allow me to share ideas and tasks with my team and I came across the Trello blog. They had a bunch of guides related to remote work and organizing tasks and I ate them to the end.
To this day, it is one of the tools I continue to pay for to execute our content strategy.
Do you enjoy history? Well, I’m not putting it here so you like it, so you can see the power of inbound marketing.
I got to Trello with no ads involved. He gave me the information I was looking for in the form of guides on his blog and I ended up purchasing the paid version of the tool.
Be careful, I’m not saying that remarketing is not a lawful and effective strategy, but it is not the best in the long run.
So, does inbound marketing work?
If not, why would 75% of marketers be using it? Think that the results of inbound marketing are clear:
- Helps you increase the list of qualified MQL contacts
- Increase the list of records or leads.
- Increase page views when properly aligned with SEO strategy.
- Improve your brand image: confidence is generated and it allows loyalty more easily.
If you don’t try it, you can’t know if it works.
I hope this inbound marketing guide helps your start your strategy. If you like it, do share it on social media and if you have any questions or suggestions, don’t forget to leave them in the comment box. I love to discuss this.