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What Inbound Marketing is and how it’s going to generate many leads to your business

Learn what inbound marketing is and what it can do for your business.

inbound marketing - laptop with a magnet above the screen with email symbols, internet signal, video player, and an internet page surrounding it

Many people who are starting out as entrepreneurs on the internet trip dream of bringing quality traffic to their website and converting visitors into leads. And all without spending a lot of money.

But how can you attract people who have never heard of your business? What makes someone choose your site over so many others on the internet?

Inbound marketing is the answer to all of these questions!

Also known as “entry marketing”, or “attraction marketing”, inbound marketing makes old techniques irrelevant. 

No need for invasive techniques, spam, or trying to force your product down consumers’ throats. Now, the idea is that leads find your business, while you understand your demographic’s needs and delight customers.

Keep reading this post if you want an in-depth lesson about inbound marketing and how to put it into action in your business.

You’ll learn:

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What inbound marketing is How inbound marketing works The difference between inbound and outbound marketing The reason to invest in inbound marketing The steps of inbound marketing How to measure the results of inbound marketing 
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What inbound marketing is

Inbound marketing is a business strategy that attracts consumers by creating relevant content and personalized experiences. In other words, customers find your business and not vice versa.

While with outbound marketing, potential customers are interrupted with content that might not even interest them, the inbound methodology looks to create connections and deliver solutions for the problems these people face.

A series of steps are taken to attract leads to your blog, site, or social networks. Next, through personalized content, your relationship with these visitors is strengthened.

This content helps delight, engage, and educate visitors and potential customers about your segment. In addition, it also helps establish your business as a reference in a particular subject.

Your brand becomes more and more trustworthy, and you positively influence the decision-making process of your demographic.

How inbound marketing arose

Inbound marketing is fairly recent and arose around 2009, when Brian Hallingan and Dharmesh Shah, the founders of HubSpot, released the book “Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs”.

At the time, a lot was changing in the digital world, especially with the rising popularity of search engines and social networks. As a result, consumer behavior was also deeply transformed.  

Before the internet, consumers were passive agents in the consumption of content. The type of information they received was mainly in the hands of companies. 

But the web and digital transformation help balance that out. Now, people have greater choosing power when it comes to buying and the type of content they want to receive (or not).

The internet allows users to find any type of information instantly, including details about a product or service they need, like specifications, price, and customer reviews.

So, it’s only natural to expect marketing strategies to adapt to this new scenario, in which consumers are empowered.

How inbound marketing works

According to Hubspot, one of the biggest businesses in the segment, inbound marketing involves: 

  • Content production that is directed and shareable; 
  • Delivering content in steps, such that with every new piece of content, customers take a planned action; 
  • Personalized content. The more time customers interact with your brand, the more they’ll demand unique content;
  • Integrated communication. To reach customers, you must plan the right content, delivered in the right medium, at the right time.

The difference between inbound and outbound marketing

As you’ve probably noticed, inbound marketing is an evolution of traditional marketing, or outbound marketing. 

With outbound marketing, brands go after their target demographic. To do so, they use techniques that we’re all already familiar with, like telephone and email communication, sales stands, and TV ads. 

These techniques cost more, and it’s almost impossible to measure their results precisely. 

But with inbound marketing, as we’ve seen, the creation of relevant content is the driving force behind attracting people. It uses channels like blogs, social networks, and email to delight and convert customers. 

Inbound marketing also has the benefit of being cheaper and allowing the results of each action to be precisely measured. 

Check out the main differences between inbound marketing and outbound marketing: 

 

Inbound marketing vs. outbound marketing

Inbound marketing, or “new marketing”

  • Closer communication between businesses and their demographics;
  • Cheaper to implement;
  • Allows actions to be precisely monitored and measured; 
  • Strengthens the relationship, making the brand more trustworthy and increasing its engagement. 

Outbound marketing, or “old marketing”?

  • Communication between businesses and their demographics is unilateral. Consumers are passive in the process;
  • The transmission of messages is based on interruption;
  • More expensive to implement;
  • Harder to monitor and measure results; 
  • Less engagement and public engagement.

 

Why you need to use inbound marketing

The internet is part of our lives, and it’s practically impossible to imagine any tasks that don’t involve the web. That’s reason enough to bet on inbound marketing. 

But even so, some businesses are reluctant to use inbound marketing in their strategies, maybe because of the fear of wasting time and money without meeting the desired results.

But in fact, the market has already accepted inbound marketing as the best path to take. According to a Hubspot report, inbound marketing is the preferred strategy of 75% of businesses.

If you’re still unsure if you need to start using inbound marketing right now, take a look at some of the benefits for your brand:

Cost savings

There are many benefits of adopting inbound marketing in your promotional strategy. The first is that inbound marketing can be significantly cheaper for your business than investing in traditional media, like TV and radio. 

According to Mashable study, inbound marketing can be up to 62% cheaper than conventional marketing, with an average customer acquisition cost of $135 for inbound marketing, and $346 for traditional marketing.

Easy to measure

With outbound marketing, it’s impossible to know if your investments are being converted into profits. A two-page ad in a national magazine will certainly have a visual impact, but how will you know for sure how many people are brought in? 

You can estimate the magazine’s print run, but this data does not consider that not all copies were sold. Of this total, some people buy the magazine for a specific story and ignore the rest. And digging a little deeper into our analysis, of the people who saw the ad, it’s impossible to know how many of them bought the product.

Meanwhile, with inbound marketing, all your actions can be measured. For example, you can use a Google Analytics tracking code on your site, blog, or landing page and see how many visitors you received, how many signed up, and so on. 

You can identify which topics resonate more with your visitors and then optimize your marketing initiatives with this information. This helps you guarantee a positive return on your investment, be it in terms of money or visibility. 

Greater reach

Inbound content is more likely to be shared with others to solve a particular user problem. With this, your text or video reaches a much larger audience, who might never have discovered your blog by other means.

Transforms customers into unconditional fans of the brand

Inbound marketing allows you to keep in touch with your customers, even after a sale is made. It’ll be up to you to continue creating relevant content for these people and helping them get the most out of your product or service.

If your customers see the amount of value you deliver, they will spread the word about your product to others and even defend your brand when someone is badmouthing your service on social media.

Allows you to reach the right people

Inbound marketing is the ideal strategy to attract the right audience since its main objective is to offer helpful content to people looking for topics related to the solution your business provides.

The idea is to create relevant material on a topic related to your business so that you can start the audience segmentation process.

This way, attracted leads will already be inclined to convert into customers when they’re ready to buy. With inbound marketing, there is a greater probability of attracting the attention of your target audience.

Your business gains the power of persuasion

When using inbound marketing, businesses build the right kind of relationship with their audience.This means that by the time they’ve reached the moment of purchase, people will have already received a flow of intentional content to build trust in your brand.

This trust will make all the difference when they decide to purchase, making it easier to persuade them. 

In addition, the chance that your customers are satisfied is also greater. With a well-developed relationship with your brand, they’ll know what they can expect from your business. Furthermore, customers are already familiar with your brand since they’ve received so much content and information.

So, when your salesperson gets in touch with that potential customer, they’ll have more significant influence to persuade them to buy.

Reduced sales cycles

The sales cycle is the journey a consumer takes from the first contact with your business to completing a purchase. 

In many cases, this time can be reduced with an inbound marketing strategy in place, since consumers are accompanied as of their first contact with your brand. In other words, there’ll always be active engagement on the company’s part.

This allows your business to always be present. You show that you have a solution for leads’ pain, whether through content in the early stages or even offering your service or product in more advanced stages of communication.

Increased average ticket

As mentioned before, a great advantage of using this marketing strategy is that it allows a trusting relationship to be built between businesses and customers.

This means your audience will be familiar with your brand, even before your products or services are offered. Then, once they’ve reached the time of purchase, they’ll already have received enough information to make their decision.

This prior information favors the increase of your sales precisely because the lead trusts the tips and guidelines you provide.

In addition, this journey of nurturing and following your audience within the sales funnel helps you offer your solution at the right time, which will also reflect in the greater probability of making a sale.

The steps of inbound marketing

Attracting visitors to your website and turning them into buyers through inbound marketing is not a simple process. It takes effort and dedication to build interesting content for the profile you’ve mapped.

Inbound marketing is currently divided into 4 main steps: 

  • Attract visitors to the brand’s channels;
  • Convert visitors into leads;
  • Close leads with sales; 
  • Delight customers to make them promoters of the brand.  

We’ll discuss each step and present some tools that you can use moving forward.

Attract

Attracting people to your communication channels is the first step of inbound marketing, and it is also the phase that requires the most dedication.

Proof of this is that most marketing experts recommend producing 80% of your content for this stage, also known as the top of the funnel, and 20% distributed between the middle and bottom.

This is because the number of people who arrive on your site because of a specific search is much greater than the number of people who will actually engage with your product, which, in turn, is greater than the number of people who will purchase.

At this stage, you’ll never talk about your product or solution directly.

The main tools for attracting your potential customer are those that involve content creation, such as blogs and social networks.

Keyword

Keywords are the terms and expressions by which you want users to find you through search engines. They can be broad, like makeup, or specific, like makeup not tested on animals.

A good marketing strategy involves choosing the right keywords. In this case, the more specific your topic, the less competition and the easier it is to rank for that term.

There are many tools that can help you find the most relevant keywords for your business. We recommend Google Keyword Planner as it is associated with other Google services and can be used for free.

Blog

If you think you can’t make money with a blog, think again!

A blog is one of the best tools for anyone who wants to build authority in a particular topic and develop a relationship with their readers through valuable and segmented content. 

In addition, a good content management platform, like WordPress, can support multiple formats (text, video, GIF), giving you more ways to generate value for your followers.

SEO

SEO (search engine optimization) is a set of techniques to optimize your web page, seeking to rank well in the main search engines. 

This is essential to attract more visitors to your blog since, today, 28.5% of Google users click on the first search results, while the second and third results receive 15.7% and 11% of clicks, respectively.

SEO is easier to apply than you might think, but you need to have a well-defined methodology to measure if your optimization efforts bring in results, in other words, more hits.

Social networks 

More than 223 million people use social media in the US, which is why you need to include social media in your inbound marketing strategy. 

But of course, it only makes sense to be present (and create content) on social networks if your persona is too. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting your time and money and won’t reach anyone. 

Social networks are generally not official company channels, so our tip is that you don’t use your profiles to support your users. For that, use a contact email.

Opt for more informal communication on these channels, but always remember to deliver content that is useful to your followers.

Videos

Research conducted by Cisco, a global leader in IT and networks, showed that videos are responsible for up 80% of online traffic until 2022. As the leading video streaming platform, YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world, after only Google. 

The data above show that if you still don’t count on video marketing and produce video content, you are missing an excellent opportunity to attract and educate your audience.

Convert

After being attracted by content on a specific subject, the path that leads should follow is the convert phase, when they identify a problem and start looking for content that can help them solve it.

In this context, several positive actions can be considered a conversion, such as downloading an ebook, requesting a quote, and signing up for a newsletter.

Landing page

A landing page is a page focused on a specific product or action. Unlike your web page, it needs to have a summarized menu and navigation geared towards the action you expect from the visitor.

These pages are widely used to provide rich material, run seasonal campaigns, or launch products. To access the content, the visitor usually needs to share personal data, such as name, email, and phone number.

Copy/Design

The copy (text) and design of a page are the first contacts that visitors have with your brand, so it’s crucial to ensure that both are aimed at the same goal and are attractive to the audience you want to reach.

In the case of text, if a visitor reads your title and does not find it interesting, there is little chance that they’ll continue scrolling on your page, even if the content available there is relevant.

The same goes for design: if the reader engages with the content, but the page scannability and the layout of the elements are poor, reading becomes more tiring, and they may leave the page before performing the action you expect of them.

A/B testing

Even if you take the time to study and get to know your persona, you’ll only discover most of their user preferences in practice, and that’s where A/B testing comes in.

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A great ally of inbound marketing, A/B testing consists of creating two versions of the same page element. For example, it could be the featured phrase, the call to action (CTA), or the button color to see which one converts the most.

Only to change one element at a time so that your analysis is more assertive. If you change the page completely, you’ll not be able to know which change was responsible for improving or worsening performance.

It’s worth mentioning that several free online tools allow you to conduct these tests, even without having much programming knowledge.

Lead nurturing

Not all customers who have signed up to receive content from you are prepared to make a purchase. Most of them can take months to bring a financial return to your business, or none at all.

You’re faced with a challenge at this stage: to prove to these leads that the product or service you offer is reliable and has high added value.

For this, you’ll need to deliver content regularly to them, but not random content, content that helps them solve a problem at that moment. This is what we call lead nurturing.

To get to that level of assertiveness, you’ll need to segment recipients according to where they are in their journey. This stage can be identified by the type of content the user is looking for and the actions they take on your web page, both identifiable by web analytics tools.

After performing this analysis, it’s time to think about what content can be useful for these people at any given moment and plan a triggering calendar that is neither impertinent to the person receiving the message, nor too spaced out for these leads to lose interest.

We know it’s a lot to think about, but don’t worry, as you automate the process, you’ll be able to obtain and cross-reference this information more quickly and efficiently.

When the user receives really valuable content in their inbox, they trust your brand more and more, until they feel confident enough to click to buy.

Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the most cost-effective digital marketing tools. Today, with the evolution of triggering tools and audience studies, it’s possible to segment your campaigns well, and ensure that the content delivered to leads is timely and relevant.

Using this channel is also much cheaper than the amount spent on ads on major social networks. A good triggering tool will also help you measure the impact of your campaigns and carry out more tests in a shorter time frame.

Decision

The work of generating leads is never done in vain! Eventually, users who have engaged with your content and built a relationship with your brand are likely to make a purchase.

But even at this stage, when leads are close to the purchase decision, you need to keep showing them that they made the right choice.

How can you do that?

By creating an objective and intuitive purchase process, offering more flexible payment methods, discount coupons for future purchases, and employing cross-sell techniques to further increase the value delivered in a purchase.

We won’t delve too deep into these sales techniques just yet, but don’t worry, this process can be constantly optimized.

It’s worth mentioning that the more complex your product is, the more arguments you’ll need to resolve customer objections and sell your product. But, on the other hand, the average ticket will also be higher, as consumers have built a relationship of trust with your brand. 

Delight

The last step of inbound marketing – which many entrepreneurs forget – is to delight.

We’re not talking about magic or fancy tricks, but offering such a complete experience to your customers, so that they start to admire the company and its employees.

Think of Apple. How many people wait in line for hours for the latest iPhone?

This is not just because of the high quality of Apple products, but also because they have dedicated themselves to building a relationship with their consumers. Buying a device from them also means being part of a community.

But does your newly opened business have to do with Apple?

Everything!

Having a loyal customer base is not associated with the size of your company. Of course, it helps, as these companies have more money to invest in marketing teams and improving products and processes. However, know that it is also possible to offer a good shopping experience with simple attitudes by showing that you care about the buyer.

Never consider your work finished after you make a sale. This view excludes the gains that these customers can bring in the future by purchasing new products or contributing positively to your online reputation.

Always be available to answer questions and complaints. It may seem boring, especially if you work alone. However, from these questions and a deep understanding of what your audience needs, you’ll be able to offer a product or service that stands out from others on the market.

How to measure the results of inbound marketing

ROI  — return on investment

ROI (return on investment) is a metric that measures the financial health of a product or service, making a relationship between the amount invested and the return obtained.

With this metric, you can identify whether a product or service is profitable or not. In other words, if the investment you made is paying off financially.

The ROI calculation considers the amount invested and the amount of profit. With this information, you can make a series of decisions related to production aspects and marketing campaigns.

Conversion rate

The conversion rate is an indicator used to measure the number of people who have moved from the lead stage to the customer stage. It shows the percentage of people who had contact with your brand and, in fact, made a purchase as a result of that contact.

This is a fundamental metric because it can raise several hypotheses about the effectiveness of: marketing campaigns, ads, organic advertising, landing pages, websites, etc.

It measures the amount, or percentage, of leads that have advanced through the buying process. 

CLV and CAC

CLV (customer lifetime value) is a type of indicator that measures the “lifetime” of a customer, i.e., the amount spent by a consumer on your business since their first purchase.

Meanwhile, the CAC (customer acquisition cost) is how much your company invested in attracting a customer. This indicator also provides information related to financial values, which will help understand how much is invested in each potential customer to effectively become a customer.

In this case, calculating CAC considers both marketing costs (campaigns, advertisements, publicity actions) and sales costs (staff, software, etc.).

It’s worth making a relationship between these two values, as it is also a way to see the average value invested in each lead and how much and for how long that customer keeps consuming your products or services.

Funnel conversion

In addition to conversion rates, generally speaking, it’s essential to look at the percentages or amounts of conversions at each stage of the marketing funnel.

You already know that, initially, people are interested in your content through organic traffic, for example, and from the moment they give you their contact details, they become a lead. After that, it’s vital to track how that lead moves through and evolves in your funnel throughout the nurturing process.

This way, you’ll know where the most significant hiccups occur or where your strategy needs to improve in a targeted manner.

NPS

NPS (net promoter score) is a widely used satisfaction survey that aims to measure your customer’s loyalty index.

To determine your NPS,  you need to create a question to be answered with a score from 0 to 10. For example: “Now that you have used this product, rate how likely you are to recommend it to a friend on a scale from 0 to 10”.

The answers are then classified as a thermometer of satisfaction, in which:

  • 9 or 10: customers considered brand promoters;
  • 8 or 7: customers considered neutral;
  • 6 or less: customers considered detractors.

According to your NPS, it’s possible to identify your customer satisfaction levels, and, consequently, you’ll have a reference to help you always deliver what is best for your audience.

A work in progress

If you’ve read this far, you now know that inbound marketing is a set of techniques and tools that permeate the entire relationship with your customers. That’s why it’s a job that never ends (unless you’re satisfied with the customers you already have!).

We know that implementing the process that we’ve presented is no easy task, and it may take a while before you see results. But, if you dedicate yourself and keep learning, you’ll see that inbound marketing is an excellent solution for anyone who wants to improve the performance of their business consistently and sustainably.

Now that you know all about inbound marketing, why not check out our post about 15 killer marketing strategies to attract customers?


This article was originally posted in January 2014 and has since been updated with more accurate and complete information.