What is Inbound Marketing?

This is an excellent question. If you don’t know what inbound marketing is, there’s no need to worry. This term has only been around since 2005. Inbound marketing is an abstract concept that has several philosophic definitions. The principles of inbound marketing are associated with all types of web content. Inbound marketing is not an entirely new concept, but it has acquired an official name and a new meaning in the 21st century. To understand inbound marketing, we must also understand the principles behind outbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is a subtle, passive sales strategy that involves valuable web content and features that increase website visibility.

Outbound marketing uses aggressive go-get-it tactics, such as direct mail, cold calls and in-your-face advertisements. From a personal perspective, I believe that we all prefer inbound marketing. Let’s not fool ourselves. Nobody likes junk mail or telemarketers. From a business standpoint, outbound marketing is expensive, and the results may not be worth the effort or the cost.

In the past, inbound marketing has been an ever-present strategy, but it was done in a different way. If a business was marketing their products or services 20 years ago, there were several logical places for them to advertise. If a construction company was working in your neighborhood, there were several ways you could find out more about them without the Internet!

  1. Signs on the property or on the lawn
  2. Signs on their trucks
  3. Sweatshirt logos
  4. Larger signs on a building or on a billboard (whether these advertisements are inbound or outbound is debatable)
  5. Phone book entries
  6. Word-of-mouth recommendations

Today, this same construction company would use a wider variety of inbound marketing techniques.

  1. Local business entries, such as Google
  2. Informational blog posts
  3. YouTube videos
  4. Social media buzz
  5. Geo-targeted web content
  6. Promotional offers (coupons, press releases etc.)

The benefits of inbound marketing are clear. The upfront cost is lower, and the marketing materials are more appealing to the customer. I compare inbound marketing to a spider web. The spider builds the web and adds a few new strings once in a while. Then, the spider kicks back and waits.

Outbound marketing is like a pack of wolves or a lone predator that uses a resource-intensive approach to capture those much-needed customers.

In some ways, inbound marketing is non-traditional, but many established businesses still rely on word-of-mouth recommendations and traditional inbound leads. Business owners often prefer inbound leads because customers pre-qualify themselves.

The following paragraph will give you a bit more insight into how the concept of inbound marketing came to be.

The term inbound marketing was coined by a guy called Brian Halligan, who is the founder and CEO of a marketing site and software company called HubSpot. Halligan and a dude called Seth Godin are luminaries in this rapidly evolving field. Godin is responsible for creating a little publishing site called Squidoo. He has also penned several best-selling books that were marketed using his concepts. Anyway, he wrote a book called “Permission Marketing.” Permission marketing is very similar to inbound marketing because it requires potential customers to express interest before they become a lead.

It’s important to note that businesses will still have to nurture those inbound leads. Designating yourself or someone in your organization to follow up on leads and to track referrals is essential. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for marketers.

If there’s one thing to remember, it’s that the Internet is a place to be seen. Increasing the visibility of your business information and web properties through passive inbound marketing is a surefire and cost-effective way to market your products or services.

Up next, we’ll be talking about the strategies behind creating successful inbound web content.

If you have any thoughts or questions about inbound marketing, share your comments here.