What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing, which is synonymous with permission marketing, focuses on enticing potential customers by providing them with helpful content. That content can be presented via different mediums, including: social media, search engines, content marketing sources, and more. Within inbound marketing there are four stages: attract, convert, close, and delight.
The Four Stages of Inbound Marketing
‘Attract’ refers to getting the right audience to look at your content. To attract the ideal audience, it’s important to create a buyer persona first. By knowing the characteristics of the individual, you will discover what kind of content will be relevant to them. It’s also crucial to present that content when the potential customer is likely to encounter it. This is where a customer journey map will be invaluable. Your goal here is to turn a stranger into a visitor.
In the ‘convert’ phase, you want to get your potential customer’s contact details. However, the likelihood of them just giving those contact details over to you because you have a call-to-action requesting them is not high. What you want to do is exchange those contact details for something that the individual values. It could be webinar access, a whitepaper, etc. It could also involve making contact with the individual. You could have an online chat with them, providing answers to some of their questions. If you are successful in getting the individual’s contact information, you will have turned your visitor into a lead.
Now, you’ve reached the stage when your lead can become a customer. Your sales tools and processes need to work well, so that you can close each lead quickly, easily, and at the appropriate time.
The ‘delight’ phase is your opportunity to transform the individual into more than a customer. To make this transformation possible, you need to continue to nurture the relationship between your business and the client. They should continue to receive valuable content and support from you. This demonstrates that you care about their success and appreciate their loyalty. Customers who value your care and attention will continue to buy from you, and renew any services you may provide. Then, the transformation can take place and they can become a promoter of your business (i.e. they become a valuable source of referrals, positive reviews, etc.).
Where does SEO fit in?
SEO is an integral part of your inbound marketing strategy in that all your content marketing pieces can benefit from optimization. For example, a blog post needs to integrate keywords, contain external and internal links, have images with alt-tags that include the primary keyword, etc. If done well, an optimized blog post will rank higher on SERPs and ideally attract more readers. Essentially, this example demonstrates that the primary objective of inbound marketing and SEO is one in the same: get visitors to check out your site. However, once they reach your site, quality content has to be there.
Why? You want people to return to your site time and time again because you consistently deliver something of value. Also, you are more likely to get desirable backlinks with quality content. ‘Backlinks’ are when one site hyperlinks to another. According to Moz, getting backlinks is key because “backlinks to your website are a signal to search engines that others vouch for your content. If many sites link to the same webpage or website, search engines can infer that content is worth linking to, and therefore also worth surfacing on a SERP. So, earning these backlinks can have a positive effect on a site’s ranking position or search visibility.” However, not all backlinks are created equal. By creating excellent content as part of your inbound marketing strategy, you are more likely to attract sites with high-authority and lots of traffic.