Inbound Marketing: An Introduction to Marketing of the Future


Inbound marketing turns traditional marketing on its head: Instead of the initial contact of potential customers with advertising, it is about high-quality content on the Web to attract attention. Only in a later step is classic advertising used. This sounds unusual, but many experts see it as the future of marketing.

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is about bringing potential customers with relevant and helpful content to your business and delivering value to them across the customer experience – through your website, blog, and social media. Meanwhile, potential customers have the opportunity to interact with you via email, chat and other channels. In doing so, you can prove your competence by providing further information and resources and offering an excellent service.

Unlike traditional outbound marketing, you do not need to force yourself on your target audience to fight for or pay attention to them. Instead, focus on creating content that’s tailored to the interests and needs of your audience. This will attract qualified prospects and establish a trusted source of information.

Considering the term inbound marketing as a counterpart to outbound marketing, one would have to include all non-classical advertising (below-the-line marketing) both online and offline. Based on the definition, inbound marketing accordingly consists of the following (online) marketing tools:

  • Content creation
  • blogging
  • Public Relations (PR)
  • Social media or word-of-mouth marketing
  • Search engine marketing (SEO also SEA if necessary)
  • Landing page optimization or conversion optimization
  • E-mail marketing
  • Web analytics
  • Customer relationship management

Inbound Marketing: That’s how it works

The individual phases of the inbound marketing process are divided into the following phases:

1. Excite

In this phase, it is essential to create helpful and/or emotional content for the respective target group. These should be optimized for search engines and prepared for the target group as well as be easily divisible via social networks. The spreading of the contents (“seeding”) can be additionally by targeted addressing of selected opinion-makers and the distribution over own social media channels force.

2. Interaction

At this stage, communication should be promoted, allowing for direct or indirect dialogue. 

3rd degree

This is about making the interested parties in dialogue or by consulting the customer.

4. Binding / Upselling

In the course of the fourth phase, the process starts all over again: The customer is thrilled by further content and of course high-quality products or services and convinced that he has made the right choice.

Defining intermediate goals

For the individual phases, measurable intermediate goals should be defined. So speaks for long residence time, low bounce rate, subscription to the feed, a tweet, like or share and a link through another website for a particular enthusiasm. That would be the goal for phase one.

An entry in the newsletter, a new Facebook fan or even a request via a contact form by e-mail or phone complete the second phase of the interaction. Now, if possible, more or less personalized communication can take place, for example, via a CRM system.

Content creation

Everything starts with quality content. There should be enough time in the planning before the actual content creation is started. Target group identification and analysis are the focus here.

The following questions should be answered:

  • Which intermediate and main goals should be achieved?
  • Which target group (s) should be addressed?
  • What is interested and what information is the respective target group looking for or what is being linked?
  • How and in what phase of the process should the respective target group be addressed?

The question of the goals is important because it can capture the success of the action and the achievement of the individual process level of the interested party.

Possible goals when creating and distributing content should be carefully considered beforehand.

Which target group you want to address is determined, for example, by the motivation of a group to share content and/or the degree of networking. If backlinks are the primary target, the target group must be chosen very precisely: the focus is on people who, through their fame, create many new links.

If it is primarily about the social buzz that is to be generated, one can spread much “broader” in the target group selection and address, as many people are a member of Facebook, Twitter, and Co. Also, it should be considered in which process phase the potential customer is currently located. What is his knowledge? Is he researching, or does he already know what he wants? Was there already contact with the prospective customer? If so, in what way?

The marketing all-purpose weapon?

The content and inbound marketing hype is in full swing, but inbound marketing can not be applied across the board for every business and business model. Above all, the inbound marketing principle must be firmly integrated into the company across all departments and be lived daily.

In many companies, this requires a long-term rethink and a drastic restructuring. Also, over the years, a large number of new marketing channels and sometimes very complex new marketing disciplines have come along that require a high degree of specialization (including SEO, SEA, web analytics or neighboring areas such as conversion optimization).

The art consists in identifying the relevant methods for the respective project and in the areas of creation, One primary task will be to relate the individual marketing measures to each other and to record the contribution of each measure to the overall project.

Becoming a master of these data sets and interpreting them will add weight to the marketing analyst’s job (keyword: big data), as every marketing discipline has cooked its soup.

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