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If you hang around marketers long enough, you’ll notice they have their own lingo. One phrase inbound marketers bring up a lot is the “inbound marketing methodology.” But what exactly is it?

The inbound methodology is at the core of inbound marketing. Everything we do as marketers comes back to its essential principles for engaging consumers. This post dives into the elements of the methodology and what they look like in practice.

Inbound Marketing Defined

First, let’s take a closer look at inbound marketing itself and why it’s different from traditional marketing.

Traditional marketing focuses on finding customers through techniques that are largely interruptive, such as cold calling, print advertisements, and direct (junk) mail.

These traditional tactics have become both less effective and more expensive in the new age of digital commerce. Customers are also increasingly turned off by these pushy, interruptive marketing messages.

Traditional marketing was all about the marketer. It focused on getting the message out to as many people as possible, regardless of whether or not they were interested in hearing it.

This was a convenient model for the person behind the messages, but it was not a good experience for the consumer.

Inbound marketers flipped this model around. Instead of focusing on the seller, they concentrated on what the customer wanted, and this shift completely revolutionized the world of marketing.

Inbound marketing describes a new way of marketing and selling. Instead of interrupting people to impose unwanted messages on them, it seeks to empower consumers through useful information and advice.

Here’s the key difference:

Inbound marketing is all about drawing people to your business by creating marketing that they love.

You don’t go out to find your customers - they come to you. And these results are measurable, unlike those of traditional marketing.

So what does this kind of marketing look like in practice?

The Inbound Marketing Methodology

There are four essential stages within the inbound marketing and sales process. Together, they form what we refer to as the inbound methodology.

This infographic from HubSpot shows you the four stages, how they relate to the buyer’s journey, and the tools that help you achieve these actions.

inbound-marketing-methodology.png

Stage One: Attract

This stage is about drawing people to your website. You do this by thinking about what keywords your target market is putting into search engines and then optimizing your website content to match.

Content such as blogging and social media activity help you get both seen and found by potential customers.

Learn more about blogging in our post "Four Winning Practices for Business Blogging."

Stage Two: Convert

Once you have a visitor at your website, you want to turn that person into a lead by gathering contact information - especially his or her email address.

To get this information, you need to offer something of value in return. These offers come in the form of white papers, tip sheets, product demos, and other downloads. Through contact forms and landing pages, you request a person’s contact information in exchange for the offer, and a lead is born.

In this post, we dive more into the types of offers you can use to generate leads.

Stage Three: Close

Now that you have your lead, you want to nurture that lead into a customer. You use tools such as emails and workflows to help you send the right messages to your prospect at the right time, eventually leading to a decision to purchase.

Read more in "How to Use Content Marketing to Close More Deals."

Stage Four: Delight

After the sale is over, you continue to engage your customer with useful and timely information. Your goal is make your customer so happy and delighted with your business and products that she turns around and promotes you.

Here is an article about the delight stage.

Is this where the methodology ends?

Nope. The methodology is cyclical. As your promoters help you attract new people to your website, the process starts all over again.

A Methodology for the Digital Age

Over the last ten years, inbound marketing has proven to be the most effective marketing style for the digital age. Understanding and applying the principles of the inbound methodology can help you execute a successful inbound campaign and see solid returns for your business.

Stay tuned for our upcoming series of posts that dig deeper into the four stages of the methodology: attract, convert, close, and delight. 

inbound marketing resource pack

Image by Brian Jeffery Beggerly via Flickr, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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