5 Keys for Successful Inbound Marketing

08/10/2016 10:23 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

2016-08-04-1470322892-6074962-AaronHaynes.pngBy Aaron Haynes

B2B marketing has transformed in recent years thanks to the advancement of the internet, largely led by Google's growth, followed by the explosion of social media.

As a result, the advantages of inbound marketing are numerous, yet a huge number of companies still haven't discovered do it right. The truth is that they know the efficiency it provides for their overall marketing dollar, yet are still afraid of it. Having worked with dozens of clients on inbound marketing campaigns, I've discovered how to use it in a manner that gives the best results. Some key takeaways are below.

Definition of Inbound Marketing

Brian Halligan, CEO of HubSpot, coined the term "inbound marketing." It is all about using blogs, podcasts, videos, eBooks, newsletters, whitepapers, SEO, physical products, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing to promote a business. The goal is to draw customers to your business (pull marketing) rather than a sales team cold calling and having to find customers (push marketing).

According to HubSpot, inbound marketing costs around 60 percent less than outbound marketing. Inbound marketing is all about connecting with current and new customers by sharing information. We live in an era where people want to know what's going on, but they also don't want to be spammed. Customers are longing to find a business they can trust: the more people see your company's name in their newsfeeds on not only business-related topics, but also societal topics, the more they're going to think about (and ultimately work to forge) a business relationship with your company.

The value of inbound marketing means that many startups include it as part of their marketing budget.

Inbound Marketing Strategy

The goal of this "content marketing" is to attract prospects, get them to click on your link, and contact you to find out more about what you can do for them.

There are five keys to getting inbound marketing right:

Content Creation and Distribution: This is the part of your strategy where you create targeted content that directly answers your prospects' and customers' basic questions and needs. Your ultimate goal is to get it to go "viral" through your feeds and blog, newsletters, etc., all without sounding "sales-y." Remember, this is an exercise about building trust, not sales.

  • Lifecycle Marketing: Promotion needs to continue throughout the lifecycle of your contact with your customers. Each level of interaction through the sales funnel needs to be handled differently, as it's likely that each visitor to your website is looking for something different from you at that point in time. By the end of the journey through the funnel, your new customers will turn into brand evangelists on your behalf.

  • Personalization: One of the challenges of marketing nowadays is avoiding making potential consumers feel like you're spamming them. This is where you need to tailor your content to the needs and wants of your target audience: some of this can done by trial and error, because you'll gain a better understanding of these needs and wants over time.

  • Multi-Channel Marketing: Inbound marketing is about connecting with people via their preferred channel to interact with you -- whether that's Facebook, email, your blog, Instagram or your newsletter. Your strategy may include all the options or several key channels where your target audience spends most of their time. An effective inbound marketing strategy focuses on where your potential customers are.

  • Integration: Of course, none of these actions will work on their own; they're meant to work together as an overall strategy. An effective inbound marketing strategy combines the above opportunities and weaves them together. If one aspect of the plan isn't working, it's going to affect the efficacy of the rest of the plan. Periodic tweaking until you find the right balance may be necessary so that you get the right content in the right place, at the right time.
  • By following the above tactics, your potential customers will see your information as helpful (not as spam), thus increasing the chances that they will seek you out as a trusted thought leader and potential business partner.

    Aaron Haynes is Principal of Rise Digital.