What is Inbound Marketing?

Learn what inbound marketing is and how it can help grow your business.
 
 

1. What is inbound marketing?

 

Inbound marketing overview

Inbound marketing is a strategic approach to creating valuable content that aligns with the needs of your target audiences and inspires long-term customer relationships.

Your customers are your customers because you provide solutions to their problems. That’s what inbound marketing is all about — providing the solutions that your target audiences are searching for.

Those solutions can come in the form of many different types of content across all your different platforms, designed to connect with potential buyers at different stages of the buying cycle.

Inbound marketing content types

These are some of the most common types of inbound marketing content — but even within these types, compelling content can come in many different shapes, sizes, and styles. Inbound marketing is about being creative to serve the needs of your audience.
 
 
  • Blog Posts
  • E-books & White Papers
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • News Articles
  • Research
  • Social Media
  • Slideshare
These are some of the most common types of inbound marketing content — but even within these types, compelling content can come in many different shapes, sizes, and styles. Inbound marketing is about being creative to serve the needs of your audience.
 
 

2. How does inbound marketing work?

 
Inbound marketing works because it’s entirely based on what customers want and what they’re looking for in the moment. It’s not about putting your brand in front of customers — it’s about being there, and being ready, when they’re looking for the things you offer. Successful inbound marketing happens when you’re producing high-quality content that your intended audience really engages with.

It’s best when used with outbound

It’s important to keep in mind that inbound marketing doesn’t usually work as effectively as it could when it’s the only marketing tactic you use. The key to a great inbound marketing strategy is to create excellent content that can also be promoted through outbound tactics. Then, you’ll have a library of engaging and relevant content across all your platforms — therefore your audience finds it through search, but it’s also available for you to promote if you need to.

It gives your audience what they’re looking for

Inbound marketing is a great way to inspire customer engagement that leads to buyer journeys and recurring customer relationships. For example, when you create an e-book that your website visitors love, they’ll be more likely to submit their information and become leads. It’s also easy to integrate inbound marketing tactics with marketing automation to transport new leads and customers through the purchase pipeline.
 

Inbound marketing and lead generation go together.

What does inbound marketing actually do?

The real, ideal result of inbound marketing is brand awareness and an engaged audience. Great inbound marketing content serves to create genuine interest in your brand by the people you want to become your customers. It helps people get to know your products and services and provides helpful answers to their questions.
 

It’s not just about sales.

The engaged audience that you create with inbound marketing won’t be composed solely of picture-perfect, qualified leads. In fact, inbound marketing rarely translates directly to sales. Instead, it translates directly to your brand’s reputation and what your audience thinks of you — which is sometimes even more complex to manage than the sales process. 

It’s about helping people.

Your inbound marketing content has the potential to help a lot of people with their problems, generate repeat traffic to your website, and spark word-of-mouth promotion for your brand. If you’re doing inbound right, it will also deliver a steadily growing collection of qualified leads to engage further with personalized content that will result in sales conversion and recurring customer relationships. 

Use inbound marketing to make meaningful marketing moments happen.

 
 

3. Who uses inbound marketing, and why?

 

Who uses inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is for everyone who wants to build deeper, more engaged relationships with their customers. If you’re aware of common questions that your target audience frequently asks, inbound marketing content is the best way to answer them.

Everyone who can use inbound, should.

Before developing an inbound marketing strategy, it’s important to recognize that inbound marketing requires you to host and update a living library of informative and interesting content. This can be done on a large or small scale, but either way, you must have the ability to devote time and resources to support your inbound marketing content and make it the best it can be for your audience.

It’s especially great for small businesses.

Inbound marketing is fairly inexpensive, and because it creates a living library of branded content, it has great ROI. Small businesses with small budgets can use this to their advantage. With a little effort, small businesses can make a big impact with inbound marketing content that answers questions and solves problems for your key customer groups.
 

Inbound marketing helps increase time-to-value for small business marketing.

Why use inbound marketing?

The people you want as your customers are out there right now with questions. They’re wondering how they can improve their businesses. They’re thinking of buying new things. Sooner or later, they’re going to start looking for answers — and your inbound marketing content could be just the resource they need.

It’s empowering for your customers.

That’s why you should use inbound marketing. Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, you can be a thought leader in your field. Inbound marketing helps build that perception among your target audience, day by day and click by click. It’s the most natural and customer-centric way for people to find and learn about your brand. It can perfectly complement your existing outbound marketing strategy (allowing you to segment your audiences), and it integrates seamlessly with marketing automation.
 
 

4. Marketing Automation and ABM

 

How to use marketing automation for inbound marketing

Marketing automation can easily enhance your inbound marketing strategy. They’re really two pieces of the same puzzle!
 
A screenshot of Salesforce marketing automation flows

What exactly is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is a software platform that helps you automate your marketing and sales engagement to generate more leads, close more deals, and accurately measure marketing success.

While inbound marketing is a great strategy for creating brand awareness, it doesn’t result in sales or move prospects along the buying journey all by itself. Marketing automation bridges the gap between real conversion and the engaged audience that inbound marketing creates.

For example, with marketing automation, you can keep your sales team in the loop about all of your leads — allowing them to respond quickly when a lead created through inbound marketing shows signs of being ready to close on a sale.

How to use inbound marketing with account-based marketing

Inbound marketing and account-based marketing (ABM) are both founded on the principle of creating better, more personalized experiences for customers. Inbound marketing efforts can supplement your ABM strategy by providing additional content and engagement opportunities for your target accounts.
 

What exactly is ABM?

Account-based marketing is a B2B marketing strategy that focuses on specific customers or accounts and targets each as a market of one with highly personalized, 1-to-1 experiences and content.

Here’s how to combine inbound marketing with ABM:

  • Repurpose content.
    Repurposing content across your ABM and inbound marketing efforts extends its usefulness.

  • Learn from your data.
    Learning what works — and what doesn’t — from your inbound marketing initiatives can lead to insights that boost your ABM efforts.

  • Identify new target accounts.
    Inbound marketing has the potential to bring in new leads that you can identify as targets for ABM.

 
 

5. How to Get Started

 

How to get started with your inbound marketing strategy

A great inbound marketing strategy starts with everything you know about the people you want as your customers. Who are they? What are they searching for? What do you offer them? Ultimately, the best inbound marketing strategy will be about answering questions and being helpful to your target audience, allowing you to build long-term customer relationships.

However, to answer those questions, you’ll first need to make sure you’ve accounted for the following:

Content & SEO

Successful inbound marketing depends on great SEO-optimized content. SEO (search engine optimization) is what helps audiences find your content in the first place, but nobody’s going to stick around if that content is subpar. Great writers, designers, and web developers — as well as an SEO visibility tool — can help you create engaging inbound marketing content that connects with your audience and keeps them coming back for more.

Tools & Technology

Marketing automation can help ease the headaches of managing the complex, multichannel campaigns required by inbound marketing. A robust marketing automation platform can also help you keep up with the demands of generating content and managing campaigns. Data analytics powered by marketing automation can give you invaluable insights about how your audience is engaging with your content, allowing you to adapt your strategy in real time.

Marketing & Sales Alignment

Inbound marketing is all about building customer relationships. Talk to your sales team about what helps them connect with customers. This will give you information about what content will help you engage your marketing audiences and lead them on a buying journey with your sales team.

Channels & Platforms

The stronger your web and social media presence, the better your inbound marketing content will do. Your website is the face of your brand — it’s the first place most people are introduced to your products and services. Test your CTAs, experiment with your content placement, and make things interactive. When it comes to social media, focus on the platforms you know your target audience uses to engage with content like yours.

Integrating with Outbound

Be sure to integrate your inbound marketing strategy with traditional outbound marketing tactics whenever needed. This can help you clearly segment your audience, from prospects and existing clients to specific industries and job titles.

Inbound Marketing for Small Business

You can do great inbound marketing on any budget. In fact, inbound is easier to do on a small budget than many other kinds of marketing. It’s relatively inexpensive, and results in a living library of evergreen content that you can continue to promote for years through outbound methods. Small businesses also tend to have closer relationships with their customers, which means your team can easily identify the types of content that will resonate best with new audiences.

How Pardot can help

Pardot helps marketers and sales teams find and nurture leads, close more deals, maximize ROI, and more. Here's why we're the right choice to help power your inbound marketing strategy:

Inbound marketing.

Content generation and insights built on Salesforce, the world’s #1 CRM.

Time to value.

You can implement Pardot quickly to start generating more leads and revenue faster.

Marketing analytics.

Use B2B Marketing Analytics to organize and analyze all of your data across sales and marketing to make data-driven decisions.

Sales activation.

Automate sales processes and build marketing-approved campaigns so sales teams can focus on closing more deals.

 

Find out more about why you should try Pardot.

 

More Resources

 

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