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What is Inbound Marketing and Why You Should Care

 Show of hands: who likes being told what to do? In the age of information, customers have more power than ever before to educate themselves and make their own informed choices. Traditionally, marketing was a spray-and-pray method: you told as many people as possible why your business was awesome through marketing pieces like fliers and billboards. Now, customers don't want to be told they have to use your business - they want to choose you because you provide value to them in a sea of competition.
At the core of successful digital marketing is a concept called  Inbound Marketing. It's the idea of  providing relevant and helpful content instead of interrupting content. In the broadest sense, it's the difference between a genuinely helpful blog post and an annoying pop-up ad. 

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is customer-oriented and customer-driven. Simply put, inbound marketing starts with valuable content that your target audience wants, instead of just advertising your services. In a traditional marketing model, you would simply “spread the word” about your business through print or online ads. With inbound marketing, you instead focus on providing valuable information or items your customers can use. For example, you might start with an ebook, a quiz, a checklist or a blog that your ideal customer might find useful. You dangle that content offer to get nibbles in exchange for a form fill or phone call, and then follow-up with more direct advertising. 

A core component of inbound marketing is understanding the buyer's journey and the steps people take when deciding to use a service or purchase a product.


inbound marketing buyers journey Credit: HubSpot


The buyer's journey is made up of three main stages:

  1. Attract strangers to your site with content offers related to your business, so they will fill out a form or call you.
  2. Engage those who take an action on your site by following up with emails, live chat or messaging apps.
  3. Delight by providing the right information to the right person at the right time, every time.

The key takeaway with inbound marketing is to give your audience useful and relevant content that they want to use and share with others. Think of your marketing less as a brochure and more of an educational tool people want to engage with. 


Why Should I Care About Inbound Marketing?

Simply put - it's what customers want. 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement and 60% of consumers feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its site. Customers have more choices than ever - anything you can do to foster a positive relationship and stand out in their mind could be the tipping point that turns them into customers. 


How Do I Get Started?

You can start your inbound marketing journey at any time. We have an entire guide on how to do inbound marketing you can follow, but at a glance here are the key steps:

  1. Set SMART goals - Define what "success" is to you in order to guide your strategy.
  2. Define your ideal customer - Create buyer personas to determine who exactly you want to reach in the attract stage.
  3. Research - Once you know your customer, figure out what language they use to search online and what behaviors they take.
  4. Create assets - Create the specific content offers and follow-ups your ideal customer would want to download.
  5. Set it live - Turn on your advertising, set up automation and plan and schedule content pieces.
  6. Analyze - Make sure to consistently monitor your performance and adapt your strategy as needed. 

Now that you now what inbound marketing is and why it has value, it's time to build your own campaigns.

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Free Guide: The Beginner's Guide to Inbound Marketing

In this download you'll find:

  • A step-by-step guide on how to create an inbound marketing strategy, including building buyer personas and setting SMART goals
  • Sample lead magnets to use in your inbound marketing campaigns
  • Step-by-step instructions to create a lead capture form
  • A checklist for creating an effective landing page
  • Instructions for building automated emails
  • Actionable tips for marketing your campaign to a new audience
  • Steps for optimizing your campaign for search engines

Download Our FREE Guide to Inbound Marketing


Need a new digital marketing or web design plan? We are a Minneapolis SEO, digital marketing, social media marketing, web design and HubSpot inbound marketing agency. Stop on by and get started – and while you’re here, pick up a free honey stick (yes, we love our bee-related theme).