Inbound Methodology : Comprehensive Guide
In this article, I’ll be discussing everything you need to know to grow a business with inbound marketing. By the end of it, you’d be in a position to implement the steps involved in it.
Inbound methodology is about helping prospects with valuable content, engage them with your business, and eventually delight them with top-notch customer service.
Let’s jump into the details.
What is an Inbound Strategy?
Inbound methodology aims at growing a business or an organization by developing a long-term and meaningful relationship with the prospects.
As a business, you help your potential customers achieve their goals and serve them with high-quality valuable content.
The concept of inbound marketing revolves around producing content that prospects are looking to consume.
Inbound Vs Outbound Marketing
In contrast, outbound marketing strategies use content that people aren’t exactly looking for. For instance, when you see a Facebook ad, you’re not exactly looking for it.
But, inbound marketing addresses the pain points or fulfills desires through content.
The inbound methodology delivers content that’s entertaining, educational, and appeals to the target customer. Whereas, outbound strategies like paid ads disturb them.
With inbound, it’s easier to get in the good books of your target customers. It builds a strong relationship with them, influencing their decisions in the future.
And, you don’t rely on a budget for an inbound strategy to be effective. Just a brain would bring results.
Does Inbound Marketing Really Work?
Yes, inbound marketing really works if you put in the time and effort. If you are patient enough and have the right strategies in place, there is nothing that can prevent success.
But, it requires creativity, high-quality content, and consistent work. Once you win the trust of your target audience, it attracts customers without you having to work for them.
What are the Stages of the Inbound Methodology?
You can break down the inbound marketing methodology into three stages. Attract, Engage, and Delight.
Let’s discuss each one of them thoroughly.
The attract stage focuses on drawing in relevant people using valuable content that makes you appear as a trusted source in your industry. This should lead to engagement.
The engage stage focuses on presenting solutions to solve target customer’s pain points or help them achieve their goals. This should make them want to be your customers.
“Delight” is the last and probably the most overlooked strategy in digital marketing. As the name suggests, delight aims at providing excellent after-sale services, helping them make their purchase a successful one.
Inbound Methodology’s Self-Sustaining Loop
The benefit of “delight” is new customer acquisition on autopilot. You don’t need to exhaust much of your resources in attracting new customers as your existing ones bring them to you.
When you help them succeed with your product, they would share that with their peers. It will attract new prospects to your business, building a success loop.
Let’s now discuss some strategies to “attract”, “engage”, and “delight” your prospects.
Strategies to Attract the Right People
Attracting the right people involves inbound marketing strategies where you produce and develop high-quality content.
The starting point to attracting your prospects would be to create and publish content that offers value. This can include blog posts, social media posts, or content offers.
An example of such content is a guide on how your customers can use your products to their advantage.
Another would be where you write a blog post telling them how your product/service can solve their pain points or fulfill their desires.
Anything that can help them with their problems or achieve their goals would fall under this domain.
But, that shouldn’t be it. If blogging is your content platform, you should complement your content publishing with an SEO strategy. Why?
Because only then you’ll be able to get your content in front of enough people. By attracting the right traffic to your blog posts through search engine visibility.
Just use the keywords or phrases your potential customers are probably using in search engines like Google.
This way, your content will automatically appear on the search results against relevant search terms.
If you are wondering how you can find out those phrases, here is a quick, free, and effective way to do that.
Just put anything related to your content in the search bar and see what Google shows you.
The phrases that Google shows as suggestions while you type in your search query are the ones that prospects are typing in.
So, as a business that wants to attract the right searchers, you’d want to write high-quality, user-friendly content that includes these phrases.
Only then, Google will be able to put your content (in turn, business) in front of these potential customers.
Strategies to Engage
Once you are successful in attracting the right audience to your business, the next step would be to engage them.
Deal with them in the best way possible so that they would want to build a long-term relationship with you.
Trying to tell them how your business can add value to their lives is an effective way to do that.
You can make sure all the inbound sales calls are handled in the best way possible. Instead of selling the product, try to sell the solution your product offers.
That way, you’d be ensuring mutually beneficial agreements.
Strategies to Delight
Delighting strategies make sure customers are happy, satisfied, and successful with the product or service they purchased from you.
This may include your team assisting buyers with helpful information at any point after the purchase.
Using chatbots to set up a detailed interaction with customers, helping them with common challenges is also an effective strategy.
Let’s say you’ve introduced a new feature in your product and you want your customers to have a smooth experience with it.
You can utilize a chatbot that guides them every step of the way, helping them even after the sale to make them happy.
You can use surveys to ask your customers what they think of your product or service.
Social media interaction can be an impactful strategy to delight your existing customers and attracting new ones.
Your customers might reach out on your social media accounts to ask questions, provide feedback, or share the experience. Responding to them with helpful information will help them understand that you care about them.
And, once you successfully “delight” a customer, he/she will become your brand advocate.
Satisfied customers tend to bring new customers to businesses. You may not even have to invest a lot in attracting new leads to your business.
What are the 5 Inbound Principles?
Inbound methodology is about attracting prospects using quality content and personalized experiences. It could be through any platform like Instagram, blog, or email.
There are 5 inbound principles. These 5 inbound principles are guides to implement the inbound methodology effectively.
Abbreviated as SCOPE, these are Standardize, Contextualize, Optimize, Personalize, and Empathize.
Let’s discuss each of them.
As a brand or organization, you’d have some internal processes, brand values, and a brand story to tell. To standardize means to spread your message consistently across the board.
The way you tell your story may change depending on the pain point you are solving or a particular persona. However, the essence of the story shouldn’t vary.
For instance, if you are a digital marketing agency, you’d tell prospects you want to take your business to the next level using digital platforms. However, the way you do that can differ for different people.
While you’ll be delivering a consistent message in the standardization stage, contextualization demands tailoring it to match the goals of a specific prospect.
This is where buyer personas play their role. You’d be sending messages based on the buyer’s journey stage they are on, each persona’s pain points, and the mode of delivery (channel).
For instance, someone downloads your inbound marketing basics eBook. You know they need something more than that now. So, you send them an eBook that tells them how eCommerce businesses can leverage the methodology.
After you’ve sent your message across, you’d need to optimize your content, identify loopholes, and make it better over time.
For instance, you’ve seen that your emails are not getting enough clicks. You can adjust your subject lines to make prospects click on your link.
Consumer’s inboxes or feeds don’t lack marketing messages. So, you need to stand out. Personalization is a great way to do that.
Address them by their name. Make them feel that you’re talking to them one-on-one.
When you show your audience that you understand their pain points and can help them, it forms a personal connection with them.
What are the Fundamentals of an Inbound Business?
The fundamentals of an inbound business would be to attract, engage, and delight.
Whether it is email marketing, social media marketing, or blogging, these three strategies don’t fail a business.
The attracting strategies include search engine optimization and high-quality content.
The engagement strategies involve managing potential customer interaction in the best way possible.
Whereas, the delight stage requires a business to help customers have success with the purchase. This leads to positive reviews and attracts more customers.
Plus, your existing customers will not want to jump to another brand when they are happy with yours.
What are examples of Inbound Marketing?
A blog is probably the most important example of inbound marketing. The content you produce on a blog should be SEO– and user-friendly.
It “attracts” the target audience via search engines through effective SEO. You can then engage and delight them with top-notch customer support.
The more value you put in your blogs, the better would be your conversion rate.
You can easily create a blog these days thanks to WordPress and other content management systems out there.
An eBook is another excellent way of winning prospect’s attention. It allows you to provide in-depth insights into a topic, helping you stand as an authority in your industry.
Videos can be quite effective these days. Many consumers don’t want to read long-form content. But, short and interesting videos pique their interest.
You can create bite-sized videos to help your prospects with any topic, engage with them, and finally delight them with your amazing customer service.
Infographics are easier to consume than plain text. If you want to explain a complicated topic to your audience in an interesting way, an infographic will be a good way to attract them.
Plus, infographics are more prone to social shares, so you’d be getting complimentary marketing.
You can easily create an infographic using Canva, a free online graphic design tool.
The inbound methodology utilizes effective pull marketing strategies to attract, engage, and delight prospects.
So, as a business, if you want to leverage inbound marketing to achieve your goals, pull prospects with content, and then engage and delight them.
The delight stage would help you create a self-sustaining loop of success. You delight your existing customers; they bring new ones to your business. They’ll act as your brand advocates.
If you have social media accounts, interacting and answering customer’s questions can provide good momentum to the delight stage. This keeps the wheel of success moving on almost autopilot.