What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have.

What Is the Inbound Methodology?

The inbound methodology is the method of growing your organization by building meaningful, lasting relationships with consumers, prospects, and customers. It’s about valuing and empowering these people to reach their goals at any stage in their journey with you.

Why? Because when your customers succeed, you succeed.

The inbound methodology can be applied in three ways:

  1. Attract: drawing in the right people with valuable content and conversations that establish you as a trusted advisor with whom they want to engage.
  2. Engage: presenting insights and solutions that align with their pain points and goals so they are more likely to buy from you. 
  3. Delight: providing help and support to empower your customers to find success with their purchase. 

hubspot inbound methodology

When customers find success and share that success with others, it attracts new prospects to your organization, creating a self-sustaining loop. This is how your organization builds momentum, and this is why the inbound methodology serves as a strong foundation for your flywheel.

What Is the Flywheel?

The flywheel is a business model adopted by HubSpot to illustrate the momentum your organization can gain by prioritizing and delivering exceptional customer experience.

hubspot flywheel

You can spin and build momentum in your flywheel by investing in strategies that acquire and retain customers — forces for your flywheel.

On the other hand, anything that slows your flywheel is friction. Often the biggest sources of friction for your customers come in the handoffs between teams, so alignment and communication between teams are key to keeping your flywheel spinning.

hubspot flywheel friction

When your flywheel is based on the inbound methodology, your marketing, sales, and service functions can add force and eliminate friction throughout the attract, engage, and delight phases. All organizational functions are also responsible for removing friction from your flywheel.

For example, in the attract phase, marketing will likely play the biggest role by doing things like blogging, event marketing, and running paid ads, but your sales team can also add force by engaging in social selling, and your customer service team can add force by making it easier for current customers to make referrals.

Once you attain enough customers and engage and delight them, they can keep your flywheel spinning by promoting your organization and bringing new customers to you. Over time, your flywheel allows you to grow without continually investing in customer acquisition.

Let’s unpack some more inbound marketing strategies.

Inbound Marketing Strategies

These strategies will help you effectively market to your target audience the inbound way. Below, you’ll see there are specific strategies for each inbound method of attracting, engaging, and delighting consumers to keep your flywheel spinning and help your business grow better.

Attracting Strategies

Inbound marketing strategies that attract your target audience and buyer personas are tied to content creation and development.

To reach your audience, start by creating and publishing content — such as blog articles, content offers, and social media — that provide value. Examples include guides on how to use your products, information about how your solution can solve their challenges, customer testimonials, and details about promotions or discounts.

To attract your audience members on a deeper level through inbound marketing, optimize all of this content with an SEO strategy. An SEO strategy will require you to target specific keywords and phrases related to your products or services, the challenges you solve for customers, and the ways you help target audience members.

This will allow your content and information to organically appear on the search engine results page (SERP) for the people who are searching for this information — also known as your target audience or the right customers for your business.

Engaging Strategies

When using inbound strategies to engage your audience, ensure you’re communicating and dealing with leads and customers in a way that makes them want to build long-term relationships with you. When using these engagement strategies, inject information about the value your business will provide them with.

Specific engagement strategies may include how you handle and manage your inbound sales calls. Focus on how customer service representatives handle calls from interested people and prospects. Additionally, be sure you’re always solution selling rather than product selling. This will ensure all deals end in mutually beneficial agreements for customers and your business — meaning, you provide value for your right-fit customers.

Delighting Strategies

Delighting inbound strategies ensure customers are happy, satisfied, and supported long after they make a purchase. These strategies involve your team members becoming advisors and experts who assist customers at any point in time.

Incorporating thoughtful, well-timed chatbots and surveys to assist, support, and request feedback from customers is a great way to delight these people. Bots and surveys should be shared at specific points in time throughout the customer’s journey to ensure they make sense and are of value.

For example, chatbots may help current customers set up a new technique or tactic you've started offering that they’d like to take advantage of. Additionally, a satisfaction survey may be sent out six months after customers have purchased your product or service to get their feedback and review ideas for improvement.

Social media listening is another important strategy when it comes to delighting customers. Social media followers may use one of your profiles to provide feedback, ask questions, or share their experience with your products or services. Respond to these interactions with information that helps, supports, and encourages followers — this shows you hear and care about them.

Lastly, the mark of an inbound strategy focused on delighting customers is one that assists and supports customers in any situation, whether or not your business gets any value out of it. Remember, a delighted customer becomes a brand advocate and promoter, so handle all interactions, both big and small, with care.

Using the Inbound Methodology in Marketing

As an inbound marketer, your goal is to attract new prospects to your company, engage with them at scale, and delight them individually.

You also partner with your sales and services teams to keep the flywheel spinning effectively and help the business grow. It's a big job, but the inbound methodology and Marketing Hub have you covered.

inbound marketing inbound methodology tools

Attract

You don’t want just anyone coming to your website. You want people who are most likely to become leads and, ultimately, happy customers. How do you get them there? You attract more of the right customers with relevant content at the right time.

Use the content strategy tool to build your authority in search and rank for the topics that matter the most to your prospects. Publish your blog post or video content across social networks using social media tools. Create ads to increase awareness of your brand with your target audience. Throughout each stage, you’ll be reporting on and analyzing these efforts to stay informed on what’s working and where you need to improve.

Engage

Use HubSpot Conversations to create lasting relationships with prospects on the channels they prefer — through email, bots, live chat, or messaging apps. Use the conversion tools — CTAs, forms, and lead flows — to capture the information of prospects visiting your site. 

Use all the prospect and customer information in the CRM to personalize the website experience using smart content, and the entire buyer’s journey using email and workflows. Create brand loyalty by targeting specific audiences with your social content or ads. Choose from hundreds of HubSpot Connect integrations to add additional tools and features to fit your business’ unique needs.

Delight

Use email and marketing automation in conjunction with HubSpot Conversations to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time, every time. Use the Conversations inbox to align with your sales and service team members to create contextual conversations with the people you do business with. Create memorable content your prospects can share with their friends and family by using a variety of content formats — like video — that your prospects prefer.  

Use Inbound Marketing to Grow Better

Supporting the inbound methodology is a full platform of software for marketing, sales, service, and customer relationship management. These tools are powerful alone, but they’re even better when used together, helping you grow and market with the inbound methodology.

By combining the inbound methodology with the HubSpot software, you’ll grow your business and get customers to buy more, stay with you longer, refer their friends, and tell the world they love you.

Learn Inbound Marketing

Sign up for HubSpot Academy for free to learn about the inbound approach to marketing, access free tools to try inbound yourself, and get certified. Grow your business and your career with the inbound methodology.

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