Definition: Inbound marketing refers to the process of naturally attracting visitors to a website or storefront, as opposed to seeking out customers with advertisement campaigns and similar methods. Inbound marketing is based on the notion that informative, creative and all around exceptional content can unlock the door to creating a lasting impression and attracting customers.
Though inbound marketing strategies are said to have existed well before the 1900s, Brian Halligan, co-founder and CEO at Hubspot, is credited with officially coining the term in 2005. Since then, the marketing website - and many other entities - have provided countless discussions about the buzzworthy topic.
Though this marketing process encompasses a number of different strategies, some of the most popular include:
Whereas inbound marketing revolves around the idea that an audience can be earned organically, outbound marketing centers around putting its message in front of the public through paid marketing campaigns. Such promotions might include billboards, press releases or print, television and radio advertisements.
These are other key differences between the two methods:
Though inbound marketing can prove successful for most companies, there are a few precursors to achieving desired results.
Promoters interested in implementing this type of marketing should be willing to take risks and encourage creative thinking from their team. Doing so will lead to content that better stands out in a cluttered marketplace.
One such example exists in the form of Kate Spade's "The Waiting Game" promotional videos, which featured a bored but fashionable Anna Kendrick locked outside of her apartment. The lifestyle brand released the first part of the ad miniseries in late 2014 with subsequent videos following in 2015. Digital marketers praised the company for its engaging, episodic content and ability to bring a direct shopping experience to an otherwise one-dimensional video.
It's worth noting, however, that large video crews aren't necessarily needed for an effective promotion. Inbound marketing is an especially great option for newer enterprises and smaller businesses with little to no budget.
Like any promotional strategy, successful inbound marketing is a result of carefully considered planning. Whether that means formulating an editorial calendar or recording podcasts months in advance, companies that have a clear strategy and vision are more likely to achieve results - and boost revenue - with inbound marketing.