What is Inbound Marketing?

According to Wikipedia (which we all know is the most trusted source for college students everywhere), inbound marketing is defined as “…a marketing strategy that focuses on getting found by customers.” Instead of outbound marketing that incorporates traditional forms of marketing like newspaper or television advertising where a company is reaching out to the consumer, inbound marketing is all about getting the customer to come to you. The term “inbound marketing” is relatively new jargon and was coined by the company HubSpot.

Inbound marketing centers on three main marketing tactics: content marketing, SEO and social media marketing. In a sense, inbound marketing is really integrated marketing; connecting various marketing methods and channels together to develop a stronger online presence and more powerful brand.

The idea of inbound marketing was developed as a response to the recent changes in consumer behavior. Consumers are no longer passive recipients, willingly ingesting countless marketing messages a day. In fact, many consumers (especially the younger generations) have learned to tune out traditional marketing efforts. The Internet is the great equalizer, where everyone can become a publisher of information. Social networking allows people unprecedented opportunities for expressing their opinions on everything—from who their NFL team should draft, the best places to stay in Las Vegas, and whether or not your products are any good. Blogging allows anyone to become an expert in what they are passionate about. Vegan moms who love to cook; there is a blogging community for them. Vintage car owners in Chicago; there are leading bloggers for them too. Each societal niche has an outlet online.

Outbound marketing was more about interrupting people in their daily lives, trying to capture their attention. A commercial between TV shows, ads in the newspaper, billboards on the highway—these are all example of outbound marketing. Inbound marketing focuses on incorporating your brand into the daily lives of your target audience, not interrupting it.

One of the great benefits of inbound marketing is that it works to reach a highly targeted audience. It goes after someone who is already interested in your product/services. Outbound marketing involves sending out mass messages to a broad audience. Inbound marketing hones in on your best opportunities.

Brian Halligan, HubSpot CEO and Founder, had this to say in one of the company’s blog posts,

I advocate doing “inbound marketing” where you help yourself “get found” by people already learning about and shopping in your industry. In order to do this, you need to set your website up like a “hub” for your industry that attracts visitors naturally through the search engines, through the blogosphere, and through the social media sites.

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