Inbound Marketing: An Introduction to Future Marketing

Inbound marketing turns classic marketing on its head: Instead of creating the first contact of potential customers with advertising , it is about drawing attention to yourself through high-quality content on the web. Classic advertising is only used in a later step. That sounds unusual, but it is viewed by many experts as the future of marketing.

Advertising has been the focus of all
marketing activities for as long as there was marketing. However, the acceptance and thus attention of advertising has
decreased in the past decades due to its mass, which affects
us every day . Nowadays one speaks of
an “advertising blindness”: Everything that smells like advertising in the first contact
automatically activates an advertising filter for many people. That is why it will become more and more important to emotionally charge brands and products in advance via content , before promoting a
further strengthening of the brand or the conclusion. Only then can advertising regain acceptance and
attention. The focus is on the emotional content
and initiates the first customer contact, not the advertising . This is exactly what inbound marketing is all about. After thought leaders such as Seth Godin and others / see source reference 3) laid the foundation, the term was first used in Germany in 2012 by SEOmoz founder Rand Fishkin at the SMX in Munich .

What is inbound marketing?

If you consider the term inbound marketing as a counterpart to outbound marketing, you would have to include all non-classic advertising measures (“below-the-line marketing”) both online and offline. However, Hubspot’s definition of inbound marketing (see source reference 5), which only takes online instruments into account, seems to be gaining ground. Inbound marketing, based on the Hubspot definition, includes the following (online) marketing instruments:

  • Content creation
  • Blogging
  • Public Relations (PR)
  • Social media or word-of-mouth marketing
  • Search engine marketing (SEO and SEA if necessary)
  • Landing page optimization or conversion optimization
  • Email Marketing
  • Web analysis
  • Customer Relationship Management

Inbound marketing: this is how it works

The individual phases of the inbound marketing process are divided into the following phases:

1. Inspire

In this phase it is important to create helpful and / or emotional content for the respective target group. These should be search engine-optimized and appropriately prepared for the target group, and they should be easily shared via social networks. The spreading of the content (“seeding”) can also be accelerated by targeting selected opinion leaders and distributing them via your own social media channels.

2. Interaction

In this phase, interaction should be encouraged that enables direct or indirect dialogue. At the latest when this phase is over, the online marketing specialist Karl Kratz says: “Welcome to the system” .

3. Graduation

The aim here is to turn interested parties into customers through dialogue or advice.

4. Loyalty / upselling

In the course of the fourth phase, the process basically starts all over again: The customer is inspired again by additional content and, of course, high-quality products or services and is convinced that he has made the right choice.

Define intermediate goals

Measurable intermediate goals should be defined for the individual phases. A long stay, low bounce rate, subscription to the feed, a tweet, like or share as well as a link through another website speak for a certain enthusiasm. This would have achieved the goal for phase one.

An entry in the newsletter, a new Facebook fan or even a request via a contact form by email or telephone complete the second phase of the interaction. From now on – if possible – more or less personalized communication can take place, for example via a CRM system.

Content creation

Everything starts with quality content. Sufficient time should flow into the planning before the actual content creation begins. The focus here is on target group identification and analysis.

The following questions need to be answered:

  • Which intermediate and main goals should be achieved?
  • Which target group (s) should be addressed?
  • What is interested in and what information is the respective target group looking for or what is linked?
  • How and in which process phase should the respective target group be addressed?

The question of the goals is important, since it can be used to record the success of the action and the achievement of the respective process stage of the interested party.

Which target group you want to address is determined, for example, on the basis of the group’s motivation to share content and / or the degree of networking. If backlinks are the main goal, the target group must be selected very precisely: The focus is on people who, through their familiarity, cause many new links (“linkerati”). If it is primarily about the social buzz that is to be generated, one can spread a lot “broader” when selecting and addressing target groups, since a lot of people are members of Facebook, Twitter and Co. In addition, it should be considered which process phase the potential customer is currently in. What is his level of knowledge? Is he doing research or does he already know what he wants? Was there already contact with the interested party? If so, in what way?

Seeding

So-called seeding is used to distribute the content adapted to the respective target group. This can be done via passive seeding, such as publishing the content on your own blog, providing social media buttons and RSS feeds, on-page SEO such as WDF * IDF-oriented texts and internal links, your own social media Media channels and newsletters. The focus here is solely on the attractiveness of the content in order to create a word-of-mouth effect (mouth-to-mouth propaganda).

Another option is active seeding. PR attempts to address opinion leaders directly and, if necessary, to use paid advertising such as search engine advertising (SEA) to place the content on non-company platforms. If it concerns target groups whose contact details are already available, they can be addressed directly for active seeding. This also applies to prospects and customers who are already in the downstream process phases.

Turn prospects into customers

Especially when the interaction phase has been concluded with a lead in the form of a specific request, there seems to be an interest and basic trust in the offer. The task now is to build on this trust. In addition, the advertising filter has been removed from the potential customer so that he is more receptive to advertising.

The final phase is the only stage in the inbound marketing process in which you should actively approach the potential customer, as he is already emotionalized in relation to the brand. This can be done through sales or advice by email or phone. This also applies to the use of classic push advertising such as display advertising, TV spots or print ads.

Turn customers into promoters

If you have been able to win the prospect as a customer, the obligation is fulfilled. But that does not mean lying on your lazy skin now. The customer has placed their trust in you. Now it is time to prove that he made the right choice. The customer has to be delighted again. However, this is a little easier than in the first process stage because the trust has already been won. The customer is open to the information and may respond by promoting the content or recommending it. In addition, in the best case scenario, the customer is now registered in their own information system via newsletters, the Facebook fan page, RSS feed, Twitter, etc. and can thus be reached for the upselling process – regardless of paid measures or channels to which there is no direct administrative access .

The all-purpose marketing weapon?

The content and inbound marketing hype is in full swing, but inbound marketing is not applicable across the board for every company and business model. Above all, the inbound marketing principle must be firmly integrated across departments in the company and lived daily. In many companies, this requires long-term rethinking and radical restructuring. In addition, over the years a large number of new marketing channels and sometimes very complex new marketing disciplines have been added that require a high degree of specialization (including SEO, SEA, web analysis or related areas such as conversion optimization). The trick is to identify the methods that are relevant for the respective project and to use competencies in the areas of creation,

A major task will be to relate the individual marketing measures to each other and to record the contribution of each individual measure to the overall project. Getting to grips with these amounts of data and interpreting them will give the job description of the marketing analyst new weight (keyword: big data), as every marketing discipline has so far cooked its own soup.

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