What is Inbound Marketing? Definition and 10 Examples
If you want to learn quickly about inbound marketing, but are still confused about the definition after reading a few articles. Then you’ve come to the right place!
In this article, I will do my best to explain inbound marketing in the simplest terms possible. And provide 10 concrete examples that you can apply to your business to grow faster.
What is the definition of “Inbound Marketing” and what are some real examples?
After reading countless articles, I think the easiest way to define “inbound marketing” is actually by defining the opposite. Which is “outbound marketing”.
Outbound marketing involves any marketing “push” where you are reaching out to potential customers.
Examples of outbound marketing are cold-calling, cold-emailing, networking, and traditional TV/print advertising that is broadly targeted.
Inbound marketing is the “pull” to the outbound marketing’s “push.” Where you are attracting potential customers. Through SEO, content marketing, customer support, sales, company website, social media, retargeting ads, and more.
Essentially, any customer that finds you instead of the other way around, is inbound marketing. A simple example is if you receive an email from a potential customer asking about your product. That is considered an “inbound” lead.
Now let’s jump into 10 concrete inbound marketing examples that you can use to grow your business!
Search engine optimization, or simply “SEO”, is the best inbound marketing channel. It compounds over time and consistently will produce your best qualified warm leads.
The reason why SEO is so effective is because potential customers entering through this channel are searching for YOU. Or more specifically, the pain that your product or service solves.
This is referred to as “intent.” And is what makes SEO-generated leads much warmer than cold ads on Facebook to broad audiences.
Another advantage of SEO is that it is technically “free” for the most part. Unlike PPC ads where you pay for every single click.
At the top, companies utilizing SEO are generating upwards of 6 or 7-figures of FREE organic traffic per month. That they would have to pay Google / Facebook otherwise.
2. Blogging and Landing Pages (Website Content)
One of the best examples of content marketing is your company website itself.
Because “inbound marketing” is such a broad term, let’s focus on two specific channels: Blogging and landing pages.
According to Hubspot, companies that blog get 55% more web traffic!
Content marketing through blogging is probably the most popular channel to attract potential customers through SEO.
The best websites have hundreds or thousands of blog posts and articles. Which focus on specific keywords relevant to their target customer. This in turn generates thousands of warm leads per month on autopilot and compounds over time.
Landing pages are also one of the best ways to attract SEO customers through content. Landing pages differ from blog article posts because they are usually a main part of a company’s website. Such as a Features, Pricing, or FAQ page.
The best landing pages may also focus on a specific industry. Or use case for your product. Thus attracting that target customer and allowing them to learn why your product is best for them.
These landing pages need to be SEO-optimized and target the best keywords that your potential customers might search up.
An important note for your website: It’s a worthy investment to make sure the technical SEO optimization is sorted before you start blogging or driving traffic to your site. These include website load time, Sitemap structure, SEO metadata, etc. You can use tools like Ahrefs or Ryte to analyze your site’s technical SEO. And fix any critical errors before investing in content marketing.
If your website is poorly optimized, think of it like a leaky bucket. Google does not want to show a slow-loading, bad UX website in their top search results because site visitors will be annoyed and bounce.
On the other hand, if your site’s performance and UX are top-notch, this may allow you to leapfrog inferior websites.
3. Whitepapers, Research, and Infographics
Another form of content marketing that can drive inbound leads is whitepapers, research, and infographics.
Sharing research on your industry is a great way to build expertise, authority, and trust in a space by providing value to your potential customer.
If you’ve been in the B2B or Enterprise software space, you’ve probably downloaded a few whitepapers before. Typically requiring an email signup in order to receive the download.
Because whitepapers and research are typically much higher effort than a blog post. Companies can ask for more information than simply just an email address, like company size, annual revenue, industry, and more.
The information you input will land in their CRM as an inbound lead and will be lead scored appropriately.
Now imagine you are on the other side of this process. And you get to receive warm leads on autopilot with more granular data than simply an email address.
That can have tremendous ROI, and you only have to do it once or update the report once a year.
Infographics are another high effort, high reward strategy and are typically available for free on company blog posts.
These won’t generate as many direct email signups. But can organically lead to potential customers reaching out to you as a thought leader in the space.
4. Customer Support / Success (via Live Chat / Phone / Email)
One channel that businesses and companies may not think of at first when it comes to inbound marketing. Is their own customer support and customer success teams.
According to Hubspot, one of the main aspects of the inbound marketing methodology is “providing help and support to empower your customers to find success with their purchase”.
Since word-of-mouth and referrals are one of the main sources of customer acquisition. It pays to invest into your customer support and success teams. To ensure that every customer receives the resources they need to get the most out of your product or service.
After all, the more success your customers achieve, the more likely they will refer others in their network to you. Thus growing the company and being a win-win for all.
I’m sure you have probably experienced varying levels of customer support. And the companies with the best support lead to happier customers with higher retention.
5. Email Marketing
Email marketing is another channel in the inbound marketing playbook. It can further engage potential customers who have already subscribed to your email list. Whether from your website, blog, or by downloading a whitepaper.
Whereas outbound email marketing typically involves prospecting and qualifying leads via cold email outreach. Inbound email marketing is sending educational materials to customers who have already opted to subscribe to you.
This can be achieved with an autoresponder sequence for anyone who signs up to your marketing email list. Or by manually reaching out to potential customers who have expressed interest.
The best way to use Email marketing is to further educate your potential customer on your product or service. In order to move them down the sales funnel until they decide to try your product. Or get in touch with sales.
6. Feedback Surveys as Inbound Marketing
You may not think of feedback surveys as marketing, but it ties in with the 4th example about customer support and success.
Surveys are a great way to engage with your existing customers and get insights on how you can improve your product or service as a whole.
This feedback is crucial in determining what to build next, and that can have a lasting effect on your customer’s success and satisfaction.
Again, the better you take care of your customers, the stronger the marketing effects will be with word-of-mouth and referrals.
7. Paid advertising (Through Retargeting Ads or Awareness campaigns)
When most companies think of paid advertising, they may first think of traditional TV and print media, or perhaps Facebook ads to broad, cold audiences.
For inbound marketing, retargeting campaigns can be one of the most effective forms of paid ads since you are only showing to potential customers who have interacted with your brand in the past.
For example, if you set up a Facebook pixel or Google Tag Manager (GTM) pixel on your website, you can add your website visitors as an audience and choose to show your ads only to them.
This results in much higher engagement and conversion since these potential customers have already visited your website, heard of your brand, or perhaps even downloaded a whitepaper or subscribed to your email list.
8. Using Social Media / Community as Inbound Marketing
Social media is one marketing channel that many companies struggle with, but can be a huge opportunity to differentiate yourself from the competition and get more exposure and reach.
The key is building a real community, which is quickly becoming a differentiator when it comes to all the different products available in the marketplace today.
This ties in with the point about customer support and success because a community of your most passionate customers can create accountability and empowerment, leading to higher success and retention.
Today, I see companies mostly using Facebook groups, Slack channels, and Discord channels to house their community so customers and moderators can answer questions and share tips to get more success.
9. Videos (YouTube or self-hosted)
YouTube videos (or videos in general) are still an underutilized marketing channel when it comes to business, in my opinion.
The reason boils down to difficulty and the time and energy needed to create good video content.
On one hand, although writing a blog is relatively simple, even staying consistent with blogging poses a challenge to many marketing teams and companies, despite the rewards of SEO being so high.
Toss in the added difficulty of having to get in front of a camera, edit the video, create a thumbnail, and you have a much more daunting form of content marketing.
But similar to whitepapers and infographics, video marketing is a high effort, high reward play that is worth exploring.
I suggest uploading your content to YouTube for added discoverability and SEO as opposed to self-hosting the videos exclusively on your site via Vimeo or a similar service.
10. Live and Virtual Events as Inbound Marketing
Last on this list is events, both live in-person and virtual.
When you think of company events, what may first come to mind is massive conventions like Salesforce’s Dreamforce in San Francisco.
But the truth is, Salesforce’s first events started out very humbly with attendance in the dozens, instead of tens of thousands.
Paul Graham of Y Combinator famously has a blog article entitled “Do things that Don’t scale”.
Events, where you get to meet face-to-face with your customers and allow them to network with each other, can be one of the best ways to build a community that empowers each other and simply leads to much stronger brand loyalty and word-of-mouth.
Virtual events can still be effective by hosting workshops, talks, and interviews that will teach and empower your customers to get more out of your product, and more success overall.
In conclusion, inbound marketing is arguably the best way to grow your business and attract more warm, qualified leads daily.
Inbound marketing as a whole is a pretty broad term. But I hope these 10 concrete examples have given you some inspiration on what you can try to implement next to grow your company. You can learn more about inbound and content marketing here!
If you’re interested in getting more success with SEO and blogging, please continue reading.
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