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Anyone who has sat in campus placements can tell you that you learn more in those 3 months than you do in half of your college life. I came across the term “Inbound Marketing” for the very first time during this process. After some extensive research, I understood what it meant but another question hit me.
Are Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing basically the same thing? A little more research on the interweb gleaned some fragmented results so I meekly accepted that Inbound Marketing was more extensive and called it a day. But after 6 months as a Marketing Associate at Inbound Mantra, I feel like I am finally in a position to answer this question!
It is very common to think that Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing are the same. Content Marketing includes activities like content creation, its dissemination across channels and its potential reach to those who need it. Isn’t that what Inbound is all about?
Partially so, but not exactly!
Content Marketing is an exercise where brands are able to create a relationship with their customers with well written and targeted content. But Inbound Marketing is a “bigger picture” activity that uses content marketing as one of its tools to inspire a visitor to take an action.
The heart and soul of inbound marketing are attracting potentials customers through relevant and helpful content that adds value to them. But with inbound marketing, these potential customers find you through various channels. These channels can be blogs, search engines, direct search, and social media.
So what are the different avenues that Inbound Marketing adopts:
There is no point of creating content if it can’t be found by the right people at the right time. With Search Engine Optimization companies scientifically try to rank on Page 1 to reach the eyes of potential customers.
In this day and age, it is very important to rank in the Top 3 results of any search engine as these 3 results take away the maximum click-throughs, i.e. approximately 21%.
Blogging not only helps in getting more visitors but also helps increase your lead count too! If your blogs are strategically aligned with your sales process and you’re using a comprehensive content strategy to create blogs there is surely going to be a more dramatic impact on your company’s overall inbound marketing performance.
Blogging needs to be goal-centric. You’re creating blogs with business metrics in mind and it isn’t just for fun. Each successive blog must reach more people, drive additional traffic and you will eventually see a commensurate increase in revenue.
A true blue inbound website doesn’t talk about the business it is in but articulates the challenges and goals of visitors instead. Thus, it is integral to convey the fact that you are equipped to help the visitor and solve their problems or provide guidance for them to solve it on their own. Only then will the visitor trust you enough to convert into a lead.
A Landing Page in an Inbound Marketing strategy is integral because it eliminates all distractions. By having very limited external links or information on them they can hold the customer’s attention to the information you want them to receive. A visitor is much more likely to sign up for a newsletter is that the only message on the page. If the information is buried in product descriptions, blogs, and website pages it is very easy for the message to get lost. Giving visitors a clear call to action and then to repeat it in a standalone landing page to increase conversions is the way to go!
Inbound Marketing content is categorically different from content on traditional websites in one key way. Each piece of content crafted for a particular buyer persona in a specific point of his/her buyer’s journey.
There needs to be content for different people in the marketing funnel, not just those willing to buy today. This means that your prospects’ buying process is integral while creating content! This content may be in the form of ebooks, white papers, product videos or even webinars.
Inbound Marketing does not close deals and sales representatives will always be a crucial part of any sales process. Inbound marketing needs to be a system to keep your sales funnel chock-a-block with leads.
So how can we make inbound a part of a well-oiled sales machine? With marketing automation, of course!
Marketing Automation takes inbound leads and moves them further down the tunnel with lead nurturing and your sales team. It is analytical, precise and contextual which allows your customer to feel that they’re interacting with your business on a one-to-one basis.
An inbound website is a powerful tool that adapts to the viewer. Being a dynamic entity, it can be used to tailor the visitor experience.
Smart content is one golden ticket to keep leads returning to your site. It works by queuing up different bits of messaging based on lead information you’ve gathered. And targeted messaging works wonders for converting leads.
With social media becoming the one-stop destination for all information is a brilliant way to attract new or previous visitors. After all, creating brilliant content is really just the beginning of our journey. A plan on how to promote your content is the real deal we are looking for.
A marketing plan should entail paid, owned, and earned social media strategies that will eventually achieve business goals.
This includes, but obviously not limited to: using your own social media channels, paying for social media ads, and nurturing social media relationships with other users.
To be successful with inbound marketing on Social Media you need to create and share valuable content that is interesting to your audience. Doing so allows the audience to trust you, paving your way to be a thought leader/influencer!
Finally, the most powerful characteristic of inbound marketing is that all decisions are based on customized and comprehensive data. Your content marketing strategy, social media plans, website design and landing pages can all give data to help businesses make informed decisions.
Using these metrics to make decisions helps you customize each decision to your buyer persona.
There is an age-old debate that rages on to this day- Is Email Marketing Inbound or Outbound? Done right, it can be a phenomenal tool to keep your leads engaged with the company. Since email marketing is low cost, high ROI and its increased ability of automation. Thus, it is one of the most effective tactics in an inbound marketing kit!
I hope I was able to explain what Inbound Marketing actually entails and why it is so different from Content Marketing.
If there is anything that I’ve missed please feel free to add it to the comments below!
If you are curious to know about the other Inbound Marketing myths that most people harbour, download the eBook.