- See also product management, often referred to as inbound marketing.
Inbound marketing is the promotion of a company or other organization through blogs, podcasts, video, eBooks, newsletters, whitepapers, SEO, physical products, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing which serve to attract customers through the different stages of the purchase funnel. In contrast, buying attention, cold-calling, direct paper mail, radio, TV advertisements, sales flyers, spam, telemarketing and traditional advertising are considered "outbound marketing".
"Inbound" refers to marketing activities that bring visitors in, rather than marketers having to go out to get prospects' attention. Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found, and draws customers to the website by producing interesting content. An important facet of inbound marketing is providing the customer with feedback channels to the company for creating both trustworthy relationships as well as for consultations and sales. This may be a phone number, a feedback form, live chat (e.g. HipChat, LiveChat, LiveAgent), or an automatic free callback. Many companies are now realizing that their technical documentation, often considered a "necessary evil", is authoritative, trustworthy content that can be a company's most effective inbound marketing channel, generating more than half of overall site traffic and over half of lead generation.
David Meerman Scott recommends that marketers "earn their way in" (via publishing helpful information on a blog, for example), in contrast to outbound marketing, where they "buy, beg, or bug their way in" (via paid advertisements, issuing press releases, or paying commissioned sales people).
The term "inbound marketing" is synonymous with the concept of permission marketing; it was coined by Brian Halligan, in 2005. According to HubSpot, inbound marketing is especially effective for small businesses or Business-to-Business companies that deal with high dollar values, long research cycles and knowledge-based products. In these areas prospects are more likely to get informed and hire someone who demonstrates expertise.
The Inbound Methodology illustrates the four stages that make up the inbound marketing and sales process. The stages are Attract, Convert, Close, and Delight
There is a need to attract strangers to your site and turning them into visitors. Some of the most important tools to attract new users are blogging, optimizing your website, and social media
Once you’ve attracted new visitors, the next step is to convert some of them into leads by gathering their contact information. At the very least, you will need their email addresses. Contact information is the world of inbound’s currency. In order for your visitors to offer up that currency, willingly, you will need to offer them something in return. That ‘payment’ comes in the form of offers, like eBooks, whitepapers, or tip sheets - whatever information would be interesting and valuable to your prospects. You can convert visitors into leads by using what’s called, as you might have guessed, the conversion process. Website components like calls-to-action and landing pages can entice these visitors and help you get information about them.
In the Close stage, tools like email and a CRM can be used to help sell to the right leads at the right time. Inbound is all about providing remarkable content to your users, whether they’re visitors, leads, or existing customers.
Inbound companies continue to delight and engage their customer base, turning them into happy promoters of the products and services they love.
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- Fulkerson, Aaron (August 9, 2010). "The Evolution Of User Manuals". Forbes. Retrieved February 14, 2016.
- David Meerman Scott (2010). The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs, News Releases, Online Video, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly. (2 ed.). Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons Inc. ISBN 0-470-54781-2.
- Gilbert, Alison (February 4, 2012). "Inbound Marketing: How to Get Customers Without Really Trying". Digital Brand. Retrieved February 29, 2012.
- Pollitt, Chad (October 21, 2011). "The New 5 Step Inbound Marketing Methodology". Business2Community. Retrieved February 27, 2012.
- Halligan, Brian; Shah, Dharmesh (2009). Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs. John Wiley & Sons Inc. ISBN 0-470-49931-1.
- "Disruptor of the Day: Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah & HubSpot – Taking The Hassle Out of Marketing". Daily Disruption. February 8, 2012.
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- Kelvin (February 21, 2012). "What is Inbound Marketing with Brian Whalley". Internet Marketing Podcast. Retrieved February 27, 2012.