9inboundInbound marketing is based on the concept of earning the attention of prospects, making yourself easy to be found and drawing customers to your website by producing content customers value. Blogs, podcasts, video, e-Books, e-newsletters, whitepapers, SEO, social media marketing, and other forms of content marketing are considered inbound marketing.

In contrast, buying attention, cold-calling, direct paper mail, radio, TV advertisements, sales flyers, spam, telemarketing and traditional advertising are considered “outbound marketing.”

The most important part of a successful inbound marketing strategy is creating great content that will bring people into your sales process. Another important element is ensuring that you have a site that is optimized to close leads into deals and engages visitors once they "land" on your website. By creating great content, you'll rise in organic search results, create linkable content, and educate your audience. All of these outcomes will help you bring in warm leads that have been pre-qualified through a Google search for relevant terms or by reading similar content that links to you.

There are many forms of creating great content that will bring interested visitors, such as blogging, hosting webinars, offering e-books for download, and developing microsites that all attract leads that are interested in your offerings and are eager to engage in a conversation with you about your organization.

The inbound marketing term was coined by HubSpot’s Brian Halligan, in 2005. According to HubSpot, inbound marketing is especially effective for small businesses that deal with high dollar values, long research cycles and knowledge-based products. In these areas prospects are more likely to get informed and hire someone who demonstrates expertise.

In one case inbound marketing was defined by three phases: Get found, convert and analyze. A newer model illustrates the concept in five stages:

  • Attract traffic;
  • Convert visitors to leads;
  • Convert leads to sales;
  • Turn customers into repeat higher margin customers;
  • Analyze for continuous improvement.

David Meerman Scott recommends that marketers "earn their way in" (via publishing helpful information on a blog etc.) in contrast to outbound marketing where they "buy, beg, or bug their way in" (via paid advertisements, issuing press releases, or paying commissioned sales people, respectively).

Inbound marketing was founded on the basis that traditional marketing and advertising like billboards and TV spots have become less effective. One infographic showed that 86% of viewers skip commercials and 44% of recipients never open direct mail. In contrast companies that blog have 50% more website visitors than those that don’t and inbound marketing leads cost 60% less on average.

By sticking with inbound marketing strategies, you'll continually bring in new leads and grow in authority, however, it won't happen overnight. While inbound marketing will save you money, it does take an ample commitment and patience. You won't be the top Google result for desired terms overnight and your first webinar may only have a few people register, but by making a long-term commitment to inbound marketing you will see results.

This commitment requires that you create quality content through a Content Management System (CMS), engage with people through social media, and try new ideas to bring traffic to your site.