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Inbound marketing provides information, an improved customer experience and builds trust by offering potential customers information they value via company sponsored newsletters, blogs and entries on social media platforms.
Compared with outbound marketing, inbound reverses the relationship between company and customer. In fact, while outbound marketing is going to push the product through various channels, inbound marketing creates awareness, attracts and helps new customers with channels like blogs, social media, etc.
- 1 Strategies
- 2 Mediums
- 3 Process
- 4 References
- 5 Further reading
Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a way to boost the visibility of a website or a webpage by structuring the page to rank higher in search results for the words ("Keywords" in SEO terms) and phrases that most accurately describe the page. It is an Internet marketing strategy that considers how search engines work and what people search for, in order to identify how to position the website and webpages to rank in search engines for the most valuable search terms. This marketing tool can be used in different ways:
Leading search engines use crawlers to find pages for their algorithmic search results. SEO is a fundamental tool in order to increase the number of backlinks or inbound links. It is not an appropriate strategy for every website, there are also other factors that are important to achieve success. Pages that are linked from other search engine indexed pages do not need to be submitted because they are found automatically. It is important to know that search engine crawlers may look at a huge number of factors when they are crawling a site.
There are different ways to improve search engine visibility, but users can primarily improve visibility in one of two ways: structuring the site to be more closely aligned with the terms that their customers are searching for, and getting reputable websites to link back to their site to rank higher for those valuable search terms.
SEO is not an appropriate strategy for every website, other marketing strategies can be more effective, but it is a factor to consider in order to boost visibility.
Search engine marketing
Search engine marketing (SEM) is a form of web marketing which involves the promotion of websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages, principally through paid advertising. SEM is strictly connected to SEO in regards to pay promotion and get found out in the first search page. There are some methods and metrics to optimize websites: Keyword research and analysis which ensure the site can be indexed in search engine, finding the more frequently typed words; Presence which means how many times a web page is indexed by search engines and how many backlinks does it get; Back end tools such as Web analytic tools and HTML validators; Whois tools that reveal the owners of various websites and can provide information related to copyright and trademark. SEM objective is to boost the visibility of a page, it can be done using the so-called "sponsorization". With the term "sponsorization" is intended a search engine company charging fees for the inclusion of a website in their results pages.
Blogging became very popular at the beginning of the 21st century and is a very useful way for the brand to create awareness and to attract new customers. Inbound Marketers use blogs not just to attract new customers but also to convert brand fans into prospects or leads, by creating unique and educational content.
Social media is spread all over the world and are a huge opportunity for inbound marketing. They connect billions of people, who every day share different types of contents such as images, video, text and so on. But social media are not just a way to have some fun on the internet, they are a way for marketers to let information be reached from the right audience. With the right and unique contents, social publishing allows brands to engage new prospects converting them into customers.
To work well, inbound marketing needs a very precise process that, if respected, provide to marketers a huge competitive advantage compared with outbound marketing. The process is composed by four main steps: attract, convert, close, and delight. These are not random steps but have to be used in sequence in order to obtain more visitors on sites, to speed up conversions and finally increase the number of leads and prospects.
One of the most important differences between outbound and inbound marketing is the fact that "if classical marketing is betting on those people, inbound is betting on that person". it means that companies using inbound marketing know perfectly which are the people they are talking with. They can do it through the buyer personas. The buyer personas are the identikit of our ideal customers. Only through them can a company know which is their ideal target and which channels they have to use to reach it. "Attract" does not mean attracting random people; companies want to attract the right people at the right time with the right contents. Building a company on the buyer personas, one can define which are the beliefs, pains, hobbies etc. of our customer and on their basis one can create the right contents to attract visitors on one's blog, social, YouTube channel etc.
After attracting the visitor on their website, for example, a company will be ready to convert him/her into prospect gathering his/her contact information. Emails are the most valuable information for an inbound marketer. The inbound marketer wants to attract the right visitor, so they will exchange a tutorial video, an ebook or something valuable for the customer so he/she will be glad to give his/her e-mail in return.
Now that we have the needed information we can stay in contact with our prospects. But now how to transform our prospects into customers? Some helpful tools are:
Email integrated with call-to-action
Call-to-actions are very useful to let customer complete an action that we like. With this powerful tool we can generate a positive cycle that generates value both for our customer and for us. Generating useful contents and sending it periodically to our prospect we can create awareness but also build trust and make our close-customer be ready to buy something.
Customer-relationship management (CRM) systems track the various steps of customer acquisition. Taking track of information regarding the customer, partner companies etc. it is possible to deliver the right message at the right time to the right person.
Smarketing is the mix of sales and marketing. Generally in big companies, they are two separated units but in inbound marketing, they are usually mixed to have complete and fully understandable informations between the two areas. With close-loop reports also sales and marketing departments know which is the right time to close a deal with the customer and above all know if the customer is ready to be acquired.
Through the process of nurturing, companies make the customer ready to be acquired.
For example, if the visitor fills a form to download an ebook on a certain site, the company knows that their prospect is interested in the subject treated in the ebook. After collecting this information, they are ready to "nurture" their future probable customer with a series of emails, videos etc. connected with the subject he/she is interested in.
After attracting the fan, converting him into prospect, and letting him buy something from the company, the company has to keep in touch with their customer, continuing providing good and valuable contents with the hope of doing some upselling.
- Patrutiu-Baltes, Loredana (2016). "Inbound Marketing - the most important digital marketing strategy" (PDF). Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov. Series V: Economic Sciences. Transilvania University of Brasov. 9 (2): 61. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
- Opreana, Alin; Vinerean, Simona (2015). "A new development in online marketing: Introducing digital inbound marketing". Expert Journal of Marketing. Sprint Investify. 3 (1). Retrieved 29 October 2018.
- Halligan, Brian and Shah, Dharmesh (2009) Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs, John Wiley & Sons Inc.