There are countless marketing strategies tech and SaaS brands can use to promote their services and products. One of the most talked-about marketing methodologies is inbound marketing. Globally, 41% of marketers say that inbound marketing produces measurable ROI with inbound leads costing 61% less than outbound leads. Inbound marketing is estimated to save $14 for every newly acquired customer.
Inbound marketing, when done right, helps your brand grow in a sustainable way. As organic search traffic to your site increases, those leads engage with your content, develop trust in your brand and become paying customers. And since the primary driver of inbound marketing is content, those leads will continue to discover your brand and products organically. Unlike leads coming from paid advertising, which can dry up the minute ads stop running, inbound marketing attracts leads through content which is always working on your behalf (with the help of SEO optimization).
Inbound marketing focusing on the entire customer journey and ultimately connects your brand with ideal long term customers. Brands often don’t even realize they’re utilizing inbound marketing strategies — we’re here to help show you what’s possible and how you can use inbound strategies to exponentially grow your brand.
This beginner-friendly guide to inbound marketing is the best starting point for brands interested in understanding the basics of inbound marketing and the long term benefits it can provide.
What is Inbound Marketing?
So what exactly is considered inbound marketing? HubSpot is credited as the pioneer and founder of the inbound marketing framework. They define inbound marketing as a business methodology that attracts customers by creating personalized valuable content. The content you create educates your customers, helps them solve a problem, and ideally, exceeds their expectations.
Instead of bombarding your target audience with cold calls, for example, you create valuable content (think blogs, e-books, social media content). They discover your content (with the help of a solid SEO strategy), consume, learn and engage with your brand. When you consistently create and publish high-quality content that educates your audience, you attract customers who see your brand and products or services as the solution. From there, you can nurture the relationship by offering higher level content and knowledge which will help them to make a decision and ultimately buy from you.
Inbound marketing doesn’t focus on intrusive marketing techniques where your audience is forced to see or hear your marketing message. Instead, the content you create attracts an audience already looking to solve a problem (through search engines or other organic techniques). The more you can provide content aligned to your customer’s needs (and optimize it to be discovered through SEO), the more trust you’ll build throughout each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Inbound Marketing vs Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing often refers to traditional marketing efforts such as trade shows, cold calling and some forms of paid ads. Let’s take a look at how inbound marketing is different from outbound marketing:
Inbound marketing is a two-way communication between marketers and customers, unlike outbound marketing where communication is one-way.
With inbound marketing, your customers discover YOU via different channels and the content you’ve created. With outbound marketing, you have to go to your customers to sell your brand’s product or service.
Inbound marketing delivers long lasting value through content and nurturing a potential customer throughout the entire buyer’s journey. Outbound marketing often provide minimal value up front and is largely focused on bottom of the funnel leads.
Inbound marketing is focused on educating and serving the audience while outbound marketing is solely focused on selling and conversion.
HubSpot has developed a 3-step inbound marketing methodology which focuses on delivering engaging content throughout the buyer’s journey. These stages are:
These 3 stages are known as the marketing flywheel — they provide a holistic framework for your marketing focus which places the customer at the center. Let’s explore each stage in more detail:
This is the first and most important stage of the inbound marketing flywheel, aimed at attracting your target audience. Here your goal is to attract strangers (your target audience who is unfamiliar with your brand or products) through quality content.
The content you create has to be aligned to your target audience and their needs, and it has to be informative e.g. blog posts, resources guides, e-books etc. But before you start publishing content, you must first identify a few key answers.
Who are your ideal customers?What are there pain points or problems? Where are they searching for solutions to those problems? What can your brand provide in terms of expertise, guidance and solutions to those problems?
First you need to pull together information on your ideal customers e.g. how they find content, what search engines they use, their interests, challenges, motivations, hobbies, demographics, etc. This document is known as a buyer’s persona. Here is a what a buyer’s persona looks like:
It is a fictional representation of your ideal customers. You can add as many details as possible. The more detailed it is, the better. At First Page, whenever we work with a new tech or SaaS brand, we help to create these buyer’s personas and even map multiple personas to the entire buyer’s journey.
Once you have a buyer’s persona, you know your target audience’s preferences, the content they like and how they find it. This directly informs the type of content you’ll create and where to promote it.
Most people take to Google and other search engines to seek out answers to their questions (no surprise here). Search engines will look to match keywords from user searches to the most relevant content. When creating your content, you can use a keyword research tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush to help identify the target appropriate keywords your audience is searching for. Since your topics are focused on educating and solving pain points for your potential customers, Google will see this as a reputable source of information to provide searches. A properly optimized SEO strategy will help to connect the dots between your content and what searches see.
At First Page, we specialize in helping tech and SaaS brands create engaging content and making sure that content is indexed by leading search engines and ranking high in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). We want your audience to see it, click it, and read it.
Once you start attracting customers, the next step is engaging with them. Engagement refers to converting casual visitors into leads and eventually customers. There are two steps:
In order to engage with your new leads, you’ll need to collect some information. This is usually their email address to start. HubSpot calls contact information inbound marketing currency. Why? Because it plays a central role in engagement. Without any contact information, you can’t nurture your leads, you can’t engage with your leads, and you'll eventually fail to convert them into customers.
The best way to get visitors’ contact information is via lead magnets which are defined as a high-quality valuable content piece that you give away for free in exchange for contact information. Think back to when we mentioned e-books, guides, templates and free downloads. Here’s an example:
A lead magnet is a win-win: You collect the contact information and visitors receive a helpful, value focused content piece to educate or provide solutions to their problem.
You can use whitepapers, checklists, webinars, reports, free trials, free subscriptions, PDFs, or even coupons as lead magnets. Once you receive contact information, engaging with your ideal customers and converting them into a paying customer becomes a whole lot easier.
The type of content that works best at this stage include:
Landing pages with powerful CTAs
Useful email newsletters and email nurturing workflows
How-to product guides
Content that informs them about the benefits of your products and services
Benefit-driven marketing content.
The beauty of inbound marketing is that you don’t part ways with your customers once they make a purchase, rather, you help them achieve continued success using your product or service. You need to engage further, provide additional products or services that might help and guide them on how to solve their problem.
You need to delight your customers, WOW them with your service and dedication, and ensure they become active promoters – not just casual customers.
This stage requires highly targeted and specific inbound marketing techniques such as personalized emails, how-to guides, webinars, chatbots, and social media communication.
Collecting feedback from your customers is also an important part of the process. Conduct surveys and use techniques like social listening to get feedback from your customers, understand their post-purchase issues, and then address them by creating more relevant content to support.
It’s a systematic approach to attracting, engaging, and delighting your customers. Through blogging, SEO, lead generation, email, content marketing, and more, you can create sustainable long term growth for your brand.
We’re in the trenches every day and understand how overwhelming it can for brands to create, implement, and manage inbound marketing methodology successfully on their own. If you’re interested reaching new customers and growing your revenue with inbound marketing, get in touch with us to discuss. Let’s grow together.