To define inbound marketing, you really need to think about what conventional, outbound marketing – the thing most enterprises do today – actually is, and what it aims to achieve.

Outbound marketing covers areas such as cold-calling, direct mail, radio and TV advertisements, sales flyers, telemarketing and traditional hard copy advertising. These channels gain your attention by shouting to drown out competitive voices and beg, steal or borrow your attention.

In other words you are calling out ill-defined messages, or reaching out indiscriminately to an indeterminate audience.

The opposite attracts

A weasel riding on the back of woodpecker ©Martin LeMayWith inbound marketing it is critically important to identify and build a detailed profile of your target customers. To do this you need to carry out research and build behavioural data to create an accurate profile of the target, or buyer persona, and learn what they want from you, and what will attract them to you.

When you have this information, you can create and share online content with them. The type of content you share is built specifically on the buyer profiles or buyer personas you have developed, and is created to engage with and attract these target customers.

Empathetic content marketing

This content needs to focus on the target customer or prospects’ buying queries and concentrate on their needs. This way you gain not only greater understanding of who they are through their interactivity but you also – again through interactivity – turn them to known, qualified prospects.

Conversely, these qualified prospects are learning more about your enterprise and its products and services, and through this understanding the relationship will grow, developing trust which turns to a sale and ultimately long-term and loyal customer relationships.

Inbound analytics system development

While content marketing is a key to inbound marketing, content in itself will not drive an inbound marketing programme forward or deliver prospects, customers or even programme visibility.

There has to be a well constructed tracking and analytics system behind the programme designed to track individual prospects and customers so that you know how they interact with you and your marketing content which will guide you to understand their opinions and their needs.

Personalisation and buyer persona creation

In combination, content marketing and an accurately calibrated tracking and analytics system will allow you to further develop each individual buyer persona, and therefore target marketing content much more closely.

This is personalisation. Personalisation means you can start to communicate with prospects and customers in a way that places them at the very centre of the conversation. Apart from purely developing sales volumes, this process also helps turn new arrivals into advocates.

Multi-channel communication

Taking a multi-channel approach to inbound marketing allows you to deliver content to your prospects and customers where they want it, when they want it and it means – because it’s everywhere – it will always be on the right channel at the right time.

So wherever these prospects or customers are, and whatever they’re doing they always have an opportunity to interact with you. This helps you to get ever-more up close and personalised, and helps you in satisfying their needs, because you will know exactly what they want from you.

This post was originally published on the Novacom blog.