Thom Murtagh

Inbound marketing serves to attract potential customers by dazzling them with great online content, specifically tailored for them.

Compare this to outbound marketing — which often interrupts potential customers in ways they might not appreciate — such as telemarketing services, cold calling and television or radio commercials.

But by providing people with valuable content they can consume at their leisure, you can not only generate leads, but you can also secure lifelong customers. This makes inbound marketing essential for gaining new customers and creating loyal brand ambassadors.

Let’s take a look at what comprises inbound marketing, how to effectively implement the four stages of a successful inbound marketing strategy and why this is such an important aspect of your overall marketing strategy.

Infographic The 4 Stages of Inbound Methodology

What is Inbound Marketing?

At its core, inbound marketing provides potential and long-time customers with valuable content. You accomplish this by guiding consumers through the buyers’ journey, and you do it all without actually advertising or outright promoting your brand.

Inbound marketers work in collaboration with the company’s sales team to draft a profile of your desired target audience. This includes answering questions such as:

  • “Who is our ideal customer?”
  • “What kind of income levels do they have?”
  • “Which demographic do they belong to?”
  • “How does our product or service solve a problem they’re having?”

With these buyer personas in hand, you can then move to the next phase of crafting your strategy: following the four stages of inbound marketing methodology.

The 4 Stages of Inbound Methodology

Generally speaking, you can divide your inbound marketing strategy into four main stages:

1. Attract

The first step is catching the eye of potential customers. Ways to attract these consumers vary, but ultimately this is what generates your leads.

Your goal should be to use SEO-enhanced digital marketing content, such as blogs or infographics, or a strong social media presence to drive people to your website, where you can move them further down your sales funnel.

2. Convert

After attracting site visitors, you then need to convert these leads into prospects. You can accomplish this through form-fills, calls-to-action or gated material on your website’s landing pages.

3. Close

Once you’ve converted the leads into prospects, you need to then close the deals. A CRM can identify where each of the leads came from while also tracking the sale sizes, which helps you further hone your messaging.

4. Engage

Your work isn’t done after closing the deal. You still need to delight your customers in engaging ways to earn their brand loyalty and turn them into long-time buyers.

How Can Content Attract Customers?

Each stage of the inbound marketing methodology is important, as is the type of content used at each stage. The type of digital content you publish should relate to the particular inbound methodology stage you’re trying to reach. But most importantly, this content needs to be valuable.

Quality content is key.

Whether it’s in the form of digital ads, videos, blogging, social media or graphics, the content you use in your inbound marketing campaign needs to be entertaining, informative and valuable to your customers.

When your content meets these criteria, you build more brand awareness, credibility and trust, while also educating the audience about your solutions. This helps create demand and, ultimately, generates leads.

How to Create Valuable Content

You have many options for what kind of content you can create to attract or engage customers, so long as you make sure you’re providing something of substance for them.

In the Attract Stage, you can collect data from industry analysts and market research, and share this data in easily digestible and shareable content, such as an infographic or a listicle blog.

Depending on your industry, you might want to make this fun and lively if you have a B2C model. Or, on the other hand, consider utilizing your industry subject matter expertise and write long-form, serious thought leadership pieces.

For example, you can attract consumers with your digital content if they are specifically searching for particular answers to a question they typed into Google. If your piece of content, say a blog, uses search engine optimized (SEO) keywords and phrases specific to your target audience, Google will give your content a high rank on its search engine results page (SERP). This, in turn, attracts viewers to the blog on your website.

Similarly, a strong social media strategy can work to help keep customers engaged. The brand’s official social media accounts can listen for feedback, answer questions, conduct surveys and generally just interact with other users.

It’s important to keep in mind that the type of content you use throughout the four stages of your inbound marketing strategy should all work in tandem and flow from one stage to the next.

While it might require you spending some time to craft and implement your own strategy that’s best suited for your brand’s needs, inbound marketing remains a cost-effective and proven method of marketing.