Why Inbound Marketing is Important If You Care About Content Marketing
Inbound marketing is the most successful marketing strategy online for converting prospects. It is also the most diverse, with many moving pieces. For this reason, many small businesses don’t really know how to define inbound marketing, or how they can leverage it. This post will break down why inbound marketing is important if you care about content marketing, and how you can make it actionable.
First, let’s get clear on the definitions of inbound marketing versus content marketing:
What is inbound marketing?
According to HubSpot, the online leaders in inbound marketing, inbound is a method of attracting, engaging and delighting people through content which builds trust and credibility between a business and customer. This process earns your prospect’s attention for a more loyal relationship down the road, rather than briefly borrowing their attention for a moment. Inbound marketing relies on data-driven results to improve odds of converting a lead into a buyer.
An example of inbound marketing would look something like this:
- A user sees your social media post advertising a free checklist and clicks through to your landing page.
- On this landing page, the user enters their email to receive the free content, and also opts-in to for your weekly e-newsletter.
- The user receives your next e-newsletter, which contains a prompt to join a 30-minute webinar which will speak to how your product or service can help them and their business.
- The user signs up for the webinar, and becomes a solid lead.
What is content marketing?
Content marketing, which we usually understand a little better, focuses on creating strategic marketing materials which offer valuable, relevant and consistent materials to attract potential buyers or clientele.
An example of content marketing would look something like this:
- You identify a pain-point your target audience is currently experiencing.
- Along with your team, you brainstorm a series of blog post ideas which would provide a solution or explanation for their pain-point.
- You create the content and share it in a social media post with target-driven hashtags.
- Users enjoy the content and engage with it through likes, shares and comments.
Through this process, your business speaks directly to a clearly-defined audience by creating content on topics the audience identifies as valuable. With each piece of content the audience consumes, the more top-of-mind you become and the more likely they are to revisit your future content and share it with their circle.
How can they work together?
As already discussed, inbound marketing is more about listening to your audience, whereas content marketing is more about speaking. Combine them and you’re creating a more diverse, two-way conversation for real and sincere online engagement with your users.
These two forms of marketing can exist together online, and efforts put into one can absolutely benefit the other, if you’re doing it right.
Content marketing consists of exactly what it says: content. But there’s so much more to your overall digital marketing strategy, isn’t there? That’s where inbound marketing comes in. Inbound creates intentional sales funnels (systems where one marketing action leads to another marketing action) between website design, email marketing, social media marketing and all other diverse marketing tactics which would fall within the digital marketing scope. Where they all may have once existed independently, inbound marketing creates a clear and strategic road map between each marketing tactic.
What’s the next step?
You may be incorporating some elements of an inbound marketing sales funnel in your digital marketing strategy already, without even realizing it. The best way to find out is to grab a piece of paper and list out all the types of online marketing you’re facilitating within your organization right now.
From there, consider ways in which you can connect your different types of online marketing into a sales funnel. Through each step of the sales funnel, you are helpfully offering more and more valuable resources to your online prospects in order to bring them closer to converting into a customer or client.
Another example of a sales funnel could look like this:
- You publish a new blog post.
- At the end of the post, there’s a call-to-action (CTA) button advertising a free guide.
- The reader clicks on the CTA and is taken to a unique landing page for the free guide.
- The user enters their email information and is sent the free content.
- At the end of the free content, you offer an exclusive discount code for your new e-course.
- The user, having seen the quality and expertise you offer in your free guide, returns to your website and signs up for the e-course using the discount code offered in the guide.
Content marketing plays a key role in the process explained above because inbound marketing needs content to exist. Without content, there is nothing to draw users in to learn more about your product, service or offerings. When sitting down to create content, consider which topics appeal to your target audience, and how you can maximize the reach of that piece of content through a sales funnel similar to the examples we covered above. Elements to consider for your sales funnels include, but are not limited to:
- blog posts
- white papers
- email marketing
- unique landing pages
- social media marketing
- call-to-action (CTA) buttons
- URLs in social media posts
By using online marketing elements like the ones listed above, and placing them together to create your own unique sales funnels, you will become more intentional with your overall online marketing strategy. You will find, through the process of testing out different types of content marketing and inbound strategies, that perhaps your email list responds better to shorter content, while your social media leads prefer longer content. Or your website visitors gravitate towards certain topics, while your regular blog visitors prefer other topics. All of this will become clearer once you start combining your inbound and content marketing efforts. Results will always differ from one business to the next because every audience for every business is unique. What works for one organization might not work for another.
If you’re interested in becoming more proficient in inbound marketing and understand all of the key elements involved, consider taking HubSpot’s FREE Inbound Marketing Certification Course. HubSpot has been a leader in inbound marketing since the concept first started taking over the internet, and its certification course outlines everything you will need to know as you head into the world of inbound.
Which piece of the inbound marketing package do you find more challenging or confusing? Let me know in the comment section below.